20 June 2006

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Last Saturday's Coastal Challenge charity ride around the Ards peninsula, which attracted around 800 riders, was a fitting finale to a week in which cyclists young and old found something to suit them. The Wednesday evening leisure run for recreational cyclists attracted 25 riders who were able to enjoy a welcome touch of summer weather on the 22 mile circuit .

Thursday night's activity was a bike skills event for primary school and for the second year in succession the local children responded in a big way. The attendance this year was even greater than last year, with about 80 children turning up to try their hand at a range of challenges. After having had their bikes checked by North Down CC members, the youngsters embarked on a series of challenges such as bicycle limbo and roller racing.  Certificates were awarded to all participants and prizes to the winners. In a slight departure from the theme of healthy living, all the children were treated to free soft drinks, burgers and hot dogs. The event organiser Tom Henry was delighted with the interest shown by parents and he also expressed his appreciation to North Down Borough Council who provided resources and personnel to support the event.
The fifth running of the 100km charity ride enjoyed the best weather for several years and, correspondingly, the biggest turn out of riders yet.  Cyclists from all over Ireland and Britain left the Ballykillaire Sports Complex to complete one of the most picturesque charity rides on the calendar. The event is now firmly established as the biggest charity cycle ride in Northern Ireland, each year raising thousands of pounds for the Diabetes, Cardiology and Stroke units at the Ulster Hospital. Mickey Forbes, event coordinator, expressed his gratitude to all the participants and to the PSNI for their help and support on the road.
It 's been a few centuries since a Stuart laid claim to a Scottish throne but  one came very close to achieving that honour last Saturday. North Down CC's Stuart Henry travelled to Scotland to ride the Scottish Youth road race championship at Kirkcaldy. He put on a display of strong, aggressive riding and actually won the race. However, despite his victory, Stuart was denied the title, having been declared, as an Irish rider, ineligible to wear the champion's jersey. Nevertheless, Stuart can be well pleased with his form and can look forward to the remainder of the domestic season with confidence.
This weekend sees two championship taking place. The big event is Sunday's Irish National championships, being staged this year in Mayo. Also on Sunday and nearer to home is the Northern Ireland 25 mile time trial championship at Woodgreen. North Down's top veteran riders Declan McMackin and Paul Swenarton are the two clubmen most likely to fancy their chances. McMackin has found some good form recently, having posted a 21.12 for ten miles on the same course last week. On the same night David McCann recorded a new Irish record of 18.24.
North Down's club event next Wednesday, June 28th, is a 10 mile time trial, starting at 7pm from Dixon Road. Results from this week's kilometre time trial will be posted in next week's Spectator.

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