23 June 2009

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Despite the inclement weather on Sunday over 700 cyclists took to the roads for the 8th Coastal Challenge charity cycle event. Organisers North Down Cycling Club was delighted with the turnout and the enthusiasm shown by the willing participants. Among the starters at the Sportsplex in Bangor was a Police Bicycle Unit with Constable Rose on board to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings. This was the first time in Northern Ireland that a Police Service cycle unit was deployed on an event such as the Coastal Challenge and it has been hailed as a success by the organisers.

The oldest participant this year was an 83 year old gentleman who completed the ride well ahead of other participants – well done Billy! The route took the riders from Bangor around the Ards Peninsula in a clockwise direction passing through Donaghadee, Millisle, Ballywalter, Ballyhalbert and on to Portaferry via Portavogie and Ardminnan. Lunch was the traditional bowl of stew and some goodies served up in the Barholm Guest House by the catering ladies who did an excellent job. The return journey was via the Shore Road, Kircubbin, Greyabbey through Newtownards and on to the finish at the Sportsplex in Bangor where, after collecting their well earned tee-shirt, there was a post event barbeque by Hampton House Catering and an opportunity for refreshments and the sharing of experiences with other participants. A number of tandems were used to enable visually impaired cyclists to enjoy the experience.

A special mention must go to Dave Jenkins of Bikeworks Cycle Shop in Bangor who provided the mechanical backup for the event. This service was heavily utilised with over 35 punctures repaired and 6 tyres replaced and they are thanked not only by the organisers but by the cyclists they rescued.

North Down Cycle Club’s Event Co-ordinator, Terry Nicoletti, also wishes to thank the following: the seven hundred participants, the Club marshals who graciously gave up their time to stand or motor cycle in the rain, the Police Service for their expertise and help in running the event, the Pro-paramedics and the Co Down motorists for their patience on the day. For the financial support given by: Bike It Cycles, Grand Parade Belfast, North Down Borough Council, Ards Borough Council and Vittel Spring Water – their sponsorship was gratefully received and appreciated.

North Down Cycling Club looks forward to presenting a donation to Northern Ireland Diabetes, Stroke and Cardiology Units at the Ulster Hospital in due course.



On the same weekend that North Down’s Coastal Challenge leisure ride took place there was plenty of action at the sharper end of the sport. The annual Newry 3 Day road race took place from Friday through to Sunday and it provided yet more success for North Down’s racing men. On the opening road stage Stuart Henry roared to victory to take the yellow jersey as race leader. Even better, he picked up points in the King of the Hills competition and the Points competition so that by the start of the second road stage he was entitled to wear all three jerseys. However, on the Saturday stage Henry was constantly attacked by other teams and his North Down team mates, Noel Boyce and Richard McCullough had difficulty keeping their race leader in touch with the breakaways. Timely assistance from Curran Racing helped Henry limit his losses and he went into the time trial stage only 26 seconds behind the leader. The time trial proved to be crucial in deciding the race leadership with Henry’s Junior Ireland team mate, Marcus Christie dominating the rest of the field to take the race leadership going into Sunday’s final road stage. The North Down men were slightly deflated by Saturday’s turn of events but on Sunday confidence and form returned with Henry riding aggressively all day. He won one of the intermediate sprints and was first over the KOH at Castlewellan and by picking up additional points throughout the day he finished the race with a stage win, the Points and King of the Hills titles. The final stage came down to a massive bunch sprint, won by Peter Williams and the race leader, Christie, and the North Down contingent finished safely at the front end of the bunch.


North Down’s Paul Ferguson had been selected as a certain starter for Newry but had to withdraw, a victim of his own success. Paul had been one of Ireland’s top ranking 2nd category riders and his fourth place at Dromara at the weekend before Newry give him enough points to upgrade him to first category status, thus rendering him ineligible. Another one of North Down’s strong riders, Sam Craig, also pulled out at the last minute with a chest infection.

Another young rider starting to get results is 16 year old Nathan McLeer who took second place in a very fast criterium race in Ards town centre last Wednesday night.

Nathan has already impressed with his climbing ability and it’s encouraging to see him getting results in events where there is more emphasis on speed, acceleration and cornering.


Henry now moves to Europe to rejoin the Lotto/Bodysol team in Belgium but he will also be competing for Ireland in the European Junior Road Championships with fellow Ulstermen Marcus Christie, Jonny Cole and Peter Williams. He has also been selected to ride in the National track squad at the Junior European championships in Belarus.


This Thursday evening North Down CC holds its annual bike skills event for primary school children. To make the event more manageable this year, participation will be by pre entry only, through local primary schools. The club is indebted to the management at Bloomfield’s for giving permission to hold the event at the two-storey car park beside M&S. Goody bags and prizes will be available on the night.


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