25 November 2008

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North Down Cycling Club has a reputation for operating across the whole spectrum of the sport. The year on year increase in membership is evidence of the growing popularity of cycling, particularly in the leisure and touring ends of the sport. The club’s annual Coastal Challenge charity ride is one of the biggest and best organised events of its kind but against this background it is easy to forget that there are many riders who regularly take part in open competition across several disciplines, including road racing, time trialling, mountain biking, cyclo-cross and track.

For the 2009 season the club has decided to put more resources into supporting the racing side of affairs, an aspect of the club’s activities that some feel has been rather neglected recently. Club President, Harry Adams has offered to provide support services that will see riders transported to a large number of targeted races through the season. As a qualified sports massage therapist he will provide pre-event and post event massage for participating riders and vehicle support will be available throughout the selected races. The club committee has fully endorsed the plan and will provide financial support to subsidise all travel arrangements. Before the end of the year all riders who intend to race will be invited to attend a meeting to select a range of events for which support will be available. Early season events likely to feature are the Wallace Caldwell, the Downpatrick to Armagh St. Patrick’s race and the Tour of the North.

One of the club’s most promising riders, Stuart Henry, will be hoping to build on his successes in 2008. His winter training activities, however, will be curtailed this week when he travels to London for the national final of the Young Athlete of the Year competition. Stuart travels as the Northern Ireland heat winner and we wish him well in the final where he will be up against the best of Under 18 athletes from a wide range of sports.


Like other clubs that put together a programme of weekly time trials and road races, North Down has been conscious of the problems of managing massed start events on open roads where traffic volumes seem to increase each year. In an attempt to create a safer racing environment and one where younger riders can take part without the hazards of normal traffic to contend with, the club has had discussions with a member of the 500 Club who own and maintain Kirkistown racing circuit. An agreement has been reached in principle for North Down to use the circuit for a series of midweek closed circuit races from April to August. No details have been thrashed out yet but it is likely that other clubs will be invited to participate and young riders in particular will be encouraged to come along and compete in separate races.


This weekend sees the first of the end of year occasions that have become a feature of North Down’s winter schedule. The club awards night tales place in Pickie Bowling Club on Saturday night and organiser Eric Blayney is predicting an attendance approaching one hundred. Anyone deciding to attend at the last minute should contact Eric as soon as possible.

Back on two wheels but with a seasonal social touch, the club’s Hot Port runs have been fixed for the two Saturdays before Christmas, 13th and 20th On these days the normal Saturday run is set aside and riders head down the far side of Strangford Lough and take the ferry to Portaferry and then ride to the Saltwater Brig for a light lunch and a hot tincture.

The annual Mince Pie run will take place between Christmas and the New Year, the most likely date being Saturday 27th. This has to be confirmed; details will follow through this column and the club’s website at www.northdowncc.com.

While the end of year celebrations encourage a slightly more relaxed approach to training for many riders, the weekly turbo training sessions in the clubrooms on Wednesday nights are still drawing a large group determined to keep fitness levels high. Sessions begin at 7pm.

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