3 April 2007

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Tour of the North Cycle Race visits North Down

On Sunday next, 8th April, one of the biggest cycle races in the country will be visiting North Down.  Following the traditional prologue time trial at Stormont on Friday night and the first road stage on Saturday in Co. Antrim, the race will make its way to Bangor for the vitally important time trial on Sunday.  Venue for this stage will be the Bangor to Donaghadee road with the first rider off from the Groomsport roundabout at 10 am.  For those of a sadistic disposition, the best vantage point might be on the drag up Orlock as the riders make their way back to Bangor to complete the seven-mile circuit.

However, there will also be plenty of excitement in the afternoon as the 130 riders tackle the fast round-the-peninsula circuit.  This is traditionally an exceptionally fast stage with breaks continually escaping and being realed in again before the finish back in Bangor at approximately 4.15pm  The race will leave Bangor at 2.15 pm and make its way to Newtownards (2.24pm), before proceeding towards Kirkcubbin (2.45pm), Portaferry (3pm) and then returning via Ballyhalbert (3.30pm) and Donaghadee (4pm)

The final stage of the race will take place on Monday, starting at Carryduff at 10am and heading straight for the Mournes.  This is always a tough stage, especially with four hard stages having been already completed.  With King of the Mountains points up for grabs at the Boiling Wells, Rathfriland and Finnis, everyone will know they’ve been in a race by the time they return to Carryduff at approximately 12.55pm.

As always, this event has attracted a ‘Who’s Who’ of cycling with past winners, international riders and competitors from all the home nations competing.  A full list of riders and routes can be found at: www.tourofthenorth.com/

Saturday Morning Cycles
As has been noted in this column in the past, we have become the victims of our own success with regards to the numbers wishing to take part in the Saturday morning recreational cycles.  For many years a manageable group of 10 or 15 riders met at the clubrooms, Park Drive at 9am before making their way to Portaferry via Ballywalter and Ballyhalbert.  Unfortunately, in recent times the numbers wanting to take a leisurely cycle on a Saturday morning has grown amazingly.  On occasions over 40 cyclists have turned up and this has caused a considerable headache for many, not least local motorists.

It must be recognised that many, if not the majority of those taking part, are not members of the North Down Cycling Club. Nevertheless the club has actively been involved in trying to monitor and remediate the situation.  For example, the touring secretary, Terry Nicoletti, has compiled rules of etiquette which have been adopted by the club.  These have been distributed to those turning up on Saturday mornings and can also be found on the club’s website.  In addition, the group has been divided up, where possible, to limit the numbers in any one bunch.  It has become evident, however, that the co-operation of all will have to be sought to sub-divide the groups more effectively for the safety of all.  It has, therefore, been decided that from Saturday 14th April the group hoping to go the whole way around the Peninsula (the fast group) will depart from the clubrooms at 9am sharp.  There will then be a gap of 15 minutes before any subsequent group leaves.  In this way the risk of groups amalgamating should be avoided.

New kit
With the influx of new members, the demand for North Down kit has outstripped supplies.  Mark Coyle is planning to place an order with our suppliers before next weekend.  Anyone requiring North Down Cycling Club clothing should, therefore, contact either Mark or Harry Adams immediately.  A full list of clothing sizes and prices can be found on the website at www.northdowncc.com

Our thanks and appreciation must go to the North Down Cycling Club’s webmaster Keith Millar.  Keith recently revamped the site and as usual has done an excellent job.  The range of up to date information accumulated on the site is second to none and the professionalism involved in its presentation makes this one of the best sites in the cycling fraternity.

The North Down Cycling Club would like to send its congratulations to North Down Sports Development Officer, Jill Constable, who recently gave birth to a little boy last Friday.  Good timing Jill, plenty of time to get into shape for the Coastal Challenge!

Club Races
Club races have now commenced and will take place each Wednesday night.  Race secretary, Paul Ferguson, has compiled an exciting programme of events – all of which can be found on the club’s website.

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