23 October 2007

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Bokhara Celebrations
The Bokhara Restaurant, King  Street was quite literally bursting at the seams last Monday night when North Down Cycling Club celebrated what has been a remarkably successful year.  In his opening address, club chairman welcomed all those who were attending from neighbouring clubs and, in addition, club sponsors such as Sam Craig, from Aquatech.

After a splendid meal, the awards were handed over by another of the club sponsors, Joy of the Bokhara. Thanks to the efforts of club race secretary, Paul Ferguson, Eric Blayney and Harry Adams, a very comprehensive and diverse racing programme had been delivered in 2007, which produced a multiplicity of award winners.

Amongst those who picked up silverware were Paul and Craig Swenarton, who picked up the premier veteran and youth time trialling awards, respectively.  Gareth Boyle was another young rider who made an impact this year and he carried off the season-long road race league.  Noel Boyce and Alan Lavery were two relative newcomers to the sport who achieved much success in  club road races this season and they gained their rewards on Monday night with the club road race championship and the Ardill and Patterson Trophy respectively.

In the open race category, Neil McKenna’s achievements were recognised, as was super vet. Sam Craig, who made such an impression in the Ards Stage Race and more latterly in Cyclo Crosses.  Rachel Mitchell retained the Oneida Rose Bowl she won last year for her performances in under-14 races and Stuart Henry retained the Irvine Trophy for the most wins in open events.

However, it would be wrong to assume that such award nights should simply be about the racing men.  Without an energetic backroom staff, none of the events would ever take place.  Each year the most prestigious trophy awarded at the North Down Cycling Club Awards Night is the Clubman of the Year Trophy.  This year the trophy was awarded posthumously to Brian Marshall.  Brian had always been a tireless worker for the club and this year he spent many long hours working on the Coastal Challenge, to make it the huge success that it undoubtedly was.  It was fitting, therefore, that his wife Vera, another tireless worker for the club, was on hand to receive this most coveted of trophies.

Hicks on Tour
Veteran club member John Hicks (63) is back home after his latest exploit on two wheels – a spectacular 1,500 mile ride down the stunning United States west coast.
He joined 24 other riders for the trip – organised and fully supported by the long-distance US cycle company America By Bicycle.
The group met for the start at Portland, Oregon, where John took delivery of a new road bike – a custom built Titanium Roark – a little known factory at Brownsburg, Indiana.  “It was a big gamble…riding a new bike for a long trip, but luckily it paid off. It went like a dream.  I had it set up with a 50/34 compact chainring and 13/29 cassette, which proved a Godsend for me on the many big climbs,” said John.

The route basically followed Highway I0l all the way down the coast to Los Angeles, California, with loops to get the riders off busy roads.  From Day One the riders were thrown in the deep end with an 85 mile slog over the mountains to the Pacific coast in temperatures ranging from 11 C to 36 C.

Then they cycled down 300 miles of the Oregon coast – with  Pacific rollers crashing on beaches just yards away, to the surf pounding 2,000 ft below.  John joined up with two riders with roughly the same pace, a former Ironman competitor from Germany aged 48 and a rider from Florida 55, who was new to hills.

They had to don arm and leg warmers when banks of cold fog moved in from the Pacific. But as they headed south through Lincoln City, Florence, Bandon and Gold Beach to the California State Line, the temperatures warmed up.  ABB carry all the bags and supply a mechanic and three other staff headed by tour leader Mike Munk who challenged John to a ‘hammerfest’ at one stage. “I got butchered,” said John.

Through northern California the riders were dwarfed by majestic Redwood forests along the Avenue of the Giants – some trees are over 1000 years old and 300 plus feet tall.  The route south passed through scores of wineries with rows of vines as far as the eye could see against a golden brown mountain backdrop.

A big highlight was cycling across the iconic one-and-a-half-mile-wide Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco for the ride’s second day off.  Day 18 was the hardest, with the route heading 111 miles inland from Carmel Valley over three mountain ranges to Paso Robles.  “Climbing 7,600 ft in road temperatures hitting 38 C was some test. A few of the riders were forced to get a lift in the ABB vans,” added John.

The most awesome and technical descent – after riding over the Santa Inez Mountains – was down into the up market town of Santa Barbara. Some hairpins were so sharp car drivers were advised to cut their speed down to 5 mph.  After gawking at the mega-wealth of Malibu and Santa Monica the riders enjoyed their first hill-free days on the run into Los Angeles and the final destination at Newport Beach City – the end of a 23 day ride.

Added John, “I’ve done a number of long rides but this one ranks near the top. It has everything a cyclist would want: challenging climbs, stunning scenery, good food and comfortable motels!”

Club AGM
All club members should put Monday 12th November  their diary and make a point of attending the club’s AGM.  It’s been encouraging that some have already volunteered  to fill committee positions.  Such an attitude is so important in any club and if everyone does just a little the burden is minimal for everyone.  Anyone who wishes to change any club rule should forward their proposal to club secretary, Anthony Mitchell immediately.

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