26 January 2010

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A bicycle is a simple machine in many ways, the basic design of a diamond shaped frame and chain driven transmission not having changed much since the introduction of the safety bicycle in the 19th century. Frame materials have progressed from steel, still dominant in the Eighties, to aluminium, titanium and, more recently, carbon fibre. Lightweight wheels and components can bring a modern road bike’s weight down to a svelte 15 or 16 pounds. Unfortunately the old adage “you pay more for less” proves true today with a top class road bike costing up to five thousand pounds. However, regardless of price and quality they all need to be properly maintained. Modern cars require much less maintenance than they did thirty or forty years ago but the bicycle, by virtue of its major components being continually exposed to the elements, and in Northern Ireland that means wet, muddy, salty roads in winter, needs cleaning and lubrication after almost every ride. .

Most of the key components on a bicycle are visible and accessible but without dedicated tools and expertise even fairly simple tasks can cause headaches. With this in mind North Down Cycling Club is planning two workshop sessions on bike maintenance, the first one scheduled for Friday 29th January, at 7.30pm in the clubrooms. North Down’s own Declan McMackin, a man with many years’ experience in the cycle trade and as a mechanic at international level, will supervise the sessions. The first night’s topics will concentrate on basic maintenance procedures such as cleaning the bike, weekly inspection and adjustments to brake and gear components. This may seem elementary stuff but old hands will testify to the importance of this kind of work in keeping the bike running smoothly and preventing minor niggles developing into more serious and expensive problems. Also, these important tasks can be done without having to buy sophisticated, specialised tools. For less than £20 a set of Allen keys, tyre levers and a chain splitter go a long way to keeping the bike well adjusted. .

The evening will end with a Q and A session on any other topics of concern. Coffee and biscuits will be available and there is a small cover charge of £2 per person. .


Last Monday’s signing on opportunity drew another large group and with one more signing on night scheduled for Friday, February 12th, again at 7.30pm, membership for 2010 is already close to one hundred. Existing members are reminded that they can re-register their membership with Cycling Ireland online. New members intending to take advantage of Cycling Ireland’s basic cycling licence for a mere £9 per annum need to provide a photocopy of a driving licence or other document that gives proof of date of birth. .


Normally, the coming weekend would bring large numbers of riders from all over Ulster to Newtownards for the annual Dave Kane/Northern organised lap of the Ards peninsula. Unfortunately, Dave is still recovering from a nasty fall and the event has been cancelled. There are two more similar rides planned for February, giving racing cyclists their final opportunity to test their pre-race form and assess the strength of their rivals before the first race of the season, due to roll out at Annaclone on Saturday, February 27th. .


North Down’s decision last year to offer a team support structure for road riders paid dividends with the club having its most successful racing season for many years. The same set-up has been approved for the coming season and already a meeting has taken place to select a race programme. The racing squad is well balanced with a combination of first category riders such as Paul Ferguson and Neil McKenna, leading veteran Noel Boyce and novices such as Mark Irvine and Warren Polly. Second year racer Richard McCullough and the talented Matty Blayney and Duane McCreadie will add important elements of ambition and experience to the squad. .

North Down’s club race secretary Eric Blayney is putting the finishing touches to the 2010 club race calendar. He is hoping to extend last year’s successful use of Kirkistown race track and club Chairman Ian Blayney has announced a decision by Ards Borough Council to support the venture. The club recognises the enormous potential in using a traffic free Kirkistown to promote closed circuit racing especially for younger riders who might be wary of riding on open roads.

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