After many weeks of training and expectation the 2008 season is eventually upon us. Traditionally the first road race of the season is the event at Annaclone, just outside Banbridge and this year is no exception.
The Annaclone circuit is undulating and demanding. The roads are narrow and good bike handling is required, especially in the run-in to the up-hill finish. It is a course on which North Down has had their fair share of success over the years. In fact it was on this very circuit that a young Alistair Irvine had his first ever win as a schoolboy all those years ago.
As in previous years North Down Cycling club will have a strong representation at the event. Riders such as Neil McKenna and Alan Lavery will be anxious to see if their hard work during the winter will pay dividends. These strong seniors will be joined this year by first year juniors, Craig Swennerton, Gareth Boyle and Stuart Henry.
It is planned that the mini-bus will travel to this event. Anyone wanting to book a place should contact Tom Henry by Friday.
Phoenix Reliability Trial
Over 100 riders signed on at the House of Sport last Sunday for the Phoenix CC promoted Reliability Trial, the last one before the start of theUlster road racing season. With the weather looking favourable the scene was set for a good day.
The route took the riders through Lisburn and Maralin heading for Dromore with some loosing contact on the hilly section. Through Dromore and on to the John Beggs hill which proved to be difficult for some riders, saved only by the "pit" stop. At Ballynahinch a few used the escape route for home with the main bunch heading on for Annacloy and then on to the main Downpatrick/ Belfast road.
With a few punctures but no major mishaps, the event was successful, allowing the big hitters like Harry Adams, Keith Millar, Peter Hawkins (Usher IRC), Adam Armstrong and Martyn Irvine (Pezula) to show how it should be done. Most were content, however, to tour at a more leisurely speed.
National Youth Camp
North Down’s first year under sixteen, Nathan McLeer was the club’s only representative at the National Youth Camp, held in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, last weekend. Nathan’s ability at the regional camp a few weeks ago had been recognised by the coaches and although only in his first year as an under-sixteen rider, he was placed in the top group. Nathan didn’t disappoint and was always in contention on the two days of hard training, which included an ascent of the ‘Windy Gap’. This all augers well for the young Bangor cyclist who will be attempting to bring his ‘bunch-craft’ up to scratch in the early season races.
National Junior Development Squad
North Down’s Staurt Henry got an invitation this week to be part of the National Junior Development Squad in the Dublin-Gorey Three Day race at Easter. The ‘Gorey’ is one of the biggest early season races, with fields approaching two hundred. In addition it boasts some very famous past winners, including Stephen Roach.