2012 – the Year of the Comeback?
Back in 2008 the cycling world was rocked with the revelation that Lance Armstrong was to come out of retirement at the age of 37 to attempt an eight Tour de France title. What Lance hadn’t counted on however was that during his sabbatical the new breed of Tour specialists were coming into form and despite his undoubted talent, Old Father Time catches up with everyone eventually….. Well most people anyway. Obviously our illustrious chairman is the exception as he only gets faster as the years roll on.
As ever at North Down the lives of our racers replicate those of the pros. It seems that 2012 could be the year of the comeback.
Perennial favourite, Paul Ferguson, newly invigorated by the purchase of a new aero bike is rumoured to be plotting a season’s racing. Ray Brownfield will be guaranteed to stage at least one comeback, sell all his bikes, then start again. You don’t earn the nickname “The Comeback King” for nothing! Frustratingly for the rest of us he keeps coming back just as strong each time… A powerful showing at the Tre Giorni di Portaferry in 2011 bore testament to this. “Go on Ray, you legend!” was heard from his fanbase all along the roadside near Portaferry.
Noel “Skipper” Boyce is also rumoured to be dusting off the wheelie bin filled with iced water. Another hard racer with an impressive palmares to his name. Many felt that the Conlig man retired from racing too soon so now is his chance to prove his many fans right.
Michael McMullan has already enjoyed an excellent return to racing during 2012 after a long layoff. He put in a solid winter’s training and reaped the rewards over 2011.
Whilst the above racers having been enjoying their sabbatical however the new breed of road racers have been honing their skills. Matty “The Prince” Blayney is now a feared sprinter but this is by no means the only weapon in his arsenal. A slipped chain due to an inferior make of groupset was all that denied him a result at the very hilly Madigan G.P. It would have been a different result altogether had he chosen Italian gearing. Shane Farren too has risen up through the Irish ranking system and showed very strongly in the “B” Championships at the end of the year to name but one race.
Early season will certainly be interesting as the old school battle for supremacy against the new generation. Whatever way the squad shapes up 2012 should a vintage year for road racing at North Down.
Generation Next? Plus Ray “Comeback King” Brownfield!
Introducing Children to Cycling:
The club has recently taken possession of five small road bikes for the use of children starting out in cycling. They are suitable for both boys and girls aged 10 to 18. The bikes are brand new with Shimano 16 speed groupset. The rationale behind the purchase is to give children the opportunity to try cycling on the road and try out the sport before committing to buying a road bike.
It is advised that in case of over subscription children bring whatever bike that they may already have. For the first run out the children must arrive supervised and parents shall be obliged to sign a parental consent form. The group shall be accompanied by experienced club members and a qualified coach.
Please also note that club membership is free to the under 18s!
Cyclo-Cross – Round One!
Sunday 2nd October marks the beginning of the Ulster ‘cross season. North Down will, as ever, be fielding a strong team with a few new faces joining the hardened campaigners. First round will be held at Lurgan Park.
Lurgan Park is a superb venue for off road riding in pleasant surroundings. The cyclocross course is classified as a fast, flowing and challenging track and yet suitable for even novice riders so no excuses for not turning up and enjoying cyclocross at it’s best!! This is an ideal chance for our new ‘cross riders to experience the venue which has held Irish Cyclocross Championships in the past.
This will be round one of six with National Championships held early in 2012. Full report to follow.