27 November 2007

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Anthony – The Hub of Ulster Cycling

At last week’s Northern Ireland Cycling Federation’s AGM local man Anthony Mitchell was again elected to the very influential position of Honorary General Secretary.  It is common knowledge that the most important person in any organisation is not the chairperson, but the secretary who pulls all the strings.

In this regard there is no one better placed or more experienced in Northern Irish cycling than the Newtownards man.  Anthony has the best part of 30 years’ experience, coming into the sport as a top schoolboy and winning Northern Irish and All-Ireland medals.  Indeed he can still easily empathise with the racing man as he competes regularly in the veterans, category and is still one of the power-houses on the numerous sportif cycles.

However, in recent years he has been drawn increasingly to the administrative and coaching elements of the sport.  Only last month he was in Cardiff coaching a group of under-age riders from the province in the art of track racing.  Indeed, he can be found week-in-week-out at the Orangefield track in Belfast.

On the administrative side, Anthony has perhaps more responsibilities than it is fair to ask one individual to carry.  Such is the nature of amateur sport that if some one is good at something and willing to do it, he will be asked to take on more and more work.  In Cycling Ulster, for example, he has not only an executive position, but the very time consuming responsibility of administering grants.

In addition to all this, Anthony is the race director for the biggest race in Northern Ireland, The Tour of the North.  This in itself is an all-year responsibility which involves a huge work-load.  

The question must be asked, therefore, how does one man carry such a burden of responsibility?  I dare say Anthony would be the first to admit that without a supportive family it would be quite impossible.  Not only does Anthony call upon the labours of his wife Gillian, but in addition his two teenage children, Mike and Rachael.  Especially at times such as the Tour of the North they, along with Hugh and Rosemary, Anthony’s parents, can be found burning the mid-night oil, marshalling at corners and generally responding to the needs of the moment.  

North Down Cycling Club, therefore, are very proud of the honour and responsibility which has been placed on Anthony.  He is indeed a credit to the club and an example to others who might consider returning something to the sport from which they received so much.

Majorca Trip
The spring Majorca training trip is filling up fast.  There has been a tradition, in recent years that North Down members jet off to warmer climates to tone-up for the upcoming season.  Two thousand and eight will be no exception and already Harry Adams informs me that there are approximately fourteen booked.  He also says that deposits are now due.

Saturday Morning Cycles
The Saturday morning cycles are proving as popular as ever, in spite of the change in weather.  The run was again split into three bunches the past number of Saturdays, with the 9am run going to Portaferry and the 9.05 going to Ballyhalbert, whilst the 9.10 run goes to Ballywalter.  Once again it was commented by local driving instructor and keen cyclist, Wilf Renshaw, that the courtesy of the riders in all three groups was exemplary and a great example for cycling.  Well done to everyone concerned.

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