23 November 2009

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With the successful 2009 road season safely confined to the club archives, North Down Cycling Club’s ever expanding membership are now in maintenance mode with the majority of riders content to make do with the weekend club runs. However, those riders wanting to do more have signed up to a midweek programme that will add variety as well as a bit of top end training to their winter routine.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night the clubrooms are heaving as riders are put through their paces on the club’s recently acquired power trainers. These specially designed machines, unlike the spinning machines found in most gyms, allow the riders to use their own road bikes. Sessions enable the cyclists to monitor their heart rate, speed and power output over a one- hour routine, providing performance data that can be used to plan improvements in fitness.


The value of off-the-bike training is a matter of dispute, many holding the view that to become a better cyclist you need to train on the bike. However, there is increasing support for the importance of developing ‘core stability’ among cyclists. On a bike the rider’s upper body is relatively inactive compared to the lower body and there is a tendency to think that the upper body is not important. This view is now changing with more fitness experts pointing out that the whole body from neck and shoulders, through to the lower back, as well as the abdominal area, forms a ‘kinetic chain’ through the pelvic area to the lower limbs. Therefore, exercises to improve strength in the back and abdominal muscles will help to eliminate weak areas in the chain, thereby reducing the risk of fatigue.

One of the best known ways of developing core stability is through Pilates and when Noel Boyce organised a programme of classes he could not have foreseen how popular the idea would be so he was delighted when the class was fully subscribed quite quickly. Classes will run through to the new year so it will be interesting to see what the feedback will be from the riders.


The local cycling scene is quiet at the moment for road riders but one of North Down’s most successful riders in 2009, Junior international Stuart Henry, has plunged headlong into the fast and furious world of track racing. Now in his first year as an undergraduate in Chester, Stuart has taken advantage of his closeness to Manchester to sign up for the evening track league at the velodrome. He certainly made an impact, winning two races and coming second in two others.


It seems that not even North Down’s rich and varied cycling activities are enough to satisfy the appetite of some members. Perhaps fearful that the oxygen starvation often associated with intensive training was doing irreparable damage to brain cells, North Down’s Philip Downie has announced the formation of a club Cultural Society, with the aim of stimulating the minds of some of the more matures athletes. The society’s first outing recently took the group to the refurbished Ulster Museum at Stranmillis. In order to confirm their environmental credentials the riders rode there and back via the Comber Greenway. The museum visit itself largely centred around the famous Egyptian mummy, Takabuti, recently the subject of a documentary on local television. Using modern computer technology the experts have produced an image and model of what she looked like. Apart from a striking resemblance to former Dutch football star, Ruud Gullit, it was suggested that, despite being in her third millennium she still managed to look fresher than Harry Adams did at the end of this year’s Dromara Hilly. As Christmas approaches there is talk of the next outing being a train journey to visit the Continental Market in Belfast.


At Christmas last year club President Harry Adams announced an ambitious target of a 2009 membership of one hundred. This target was easily achieved and by this stage, as 2009 draws to a close, membership is closer to 130, making North Down one of the biggest clubs in Ireland. Two nights have been allocated for riders to renew their membership to the club and Cycling Ireland for 2010, Tuesday Dec.8th and Thursday 10th at 7.30pm. Cycling Ireland, as an inducement to new members, are continuing to offer basic, non-competition cycling membership for £9 to anyone who has not been a member in the past. This is ideal for prospective new members in that it includes third party insurance cover for the year. Details of other licence fees are on the Cycling Ulster website.


The annual Hot Port runs to the Saltwater Brig, via Comber and the Strangford ferry, have been fixed for Dec.12th and 19th. These runs leave the clubrooms at the normal time on Saturday mornings. The club hopes to arrange a light snack at the Brig in addition to the normal seasonal tinctures.

The veterans’ Xmas lunch will once again take place in the Esplanade, Ballyholme. on Monday 14th Dec. at 2.30pm. This event has become increasingly popular over the last few years and there are likely to be around thirty participants this year. The four course meal costs £13.95 and is excellent value for money. Anyone wishing to attend should contact Harry Adams by the end of November. A deposit of one crisp tenner will secure a place.

After Christmas the club holds its customary annual mince pie run. No date has been arranged yet but details will follow in this column and on the club website.

Finally, Alastair Irvine has acquired a supply of energy bars and tubs of energy powder. The products are from the excellent ZipVit range. Details and prices can be obtained from Alastair.

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