23 May 2006

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Over the past two seasons North Down Cycling Club's youth riders have been consistently in the medals at provincial and national championships and the trend continued last weekend at the Northern Ireland Open time trial championships, hosted by the NICF at a windy Dunsilly course.  Top honours went to Rachel Mitchell who won the Under 14 title with a time of 30.50. Having come 6th overall and first female the previous week in the Ulster Youth road race championship, Rachel has confirmed her position as one of the top youth riders in the country.

In the Under 16 category Stuart Henry , following a strong ride in last week's round of the British Youth Short Circuit road race series, came a creditable third place with a time of 25.17.  Winner was Sean Downey of Banbridge in a time of 24.00. The senior title was won by Aaron Deane ( Total Cycling ) in a fast 21.09.  North Down's only competitor in the senior event was veteran Paul Swenarton who came 20th overall in 23.27.
Last Wednesday evening's club time trial was called off, a victim of wet and windy weather.  Riders in this week's event, a two – up Back to Basics 10 mile time trial, scheduled for last night, will have been hoping for an improvement. The back to basics format means that riders must ride a basic road bike with no aerodynamic equipment such as aero bars, deep section or disc wheels. In the corresponding event last year , several riders surprised themselves by going faster, or as fast, as they had done with all the aero equipment available to them. Winner on that occasion was Declan McMackin in a time of 23.34, a time many riders would be delighted to post with all their aero equipment put to full use.
This weekend's programme offers a choice of races for road riders with the Mayfair Grand Prix, hosted by King's Moss CC, being staged on Saturday and the Emyvale GP taking place on Sunday at 1pm. The touring and cyclosportive riders of North Down make their annual trip to Ballyhaunis on Saturday evening in readinesss for the 125 mile Tour of Mayo on Sunday. The club bus will leave from GP Marshall's cycle shop on Saturday evening at 5.30pm.  Recent touring runs have been blighted by rain so the large group heading west will be hoping for a bit of decent weather.  Spectacular as the scenery is in Mayo, long rides such as this depend heavily on dry weather to make them a success. A century ride in warm, dry weather becomes a triumph but the same ride in the wet is a grim trial.
Reports on this weekend's events and news of John Hicks's  Land's End to John O'Groats ride will be in this column next week.

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