6 January 2009

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Aquatech Supports North Down Cyclists

In 2006 Sam Craig, the owner of local firm Aquatech (which specialises in cleaning driveways, patios, decking, forecourts etc.) first offered to support the North Down Cycling Club in its many community initiatives and its racing programme. Since that date this philanthropic local businessman has continued to support the vibrant North Down club in a whole myriad of different ways.

Cycling can be expensive, especially for those trying to break into the sport. Bikes and equipment, for example, can now cost several thousand pounds. Travel can also cause problems for the younger riders who rely on parents, friends and other club members to take them to events which are happening all over the country.

Sam, with a young family himself, recognises the fact that there is much talent in the community and would like to support and encourage it in any way he can. He stated last week that he was delighted to be able to ease the burden which young riders might face and to assist in any way he can. North Down Cycling Club are really appreciative of his help, support and encouragement and are confident that the link between the this firm of hard surface cleaning experts, in the form of Aquatech, will motivate our young members to wash away the opposition this year.

North Down Racing Team

For many years in the 1980’s and 1990’s North Down Cycling Club was synonymous with success in racing circles. The North Down minibus rarely returned from a race without at least one rider having taken the premier prize in schoolboy, junior, ladies or senior categories. Often, in fact, a clean sweep was the order of the day. Yet, whilst there have been notable exceptions, the early dominance has been absent in recent years.

As was pointed out recently, club president Harry Adams has a vision that those halcyon days should return to the North Down club. He recognised the fact that there has always been extensive talent in every area of the club but he has acknowledged that this pool of talent has not always been nurtured effectively.

Harry has outlined his belief that with the correct structure there is no reason why the existing talent within the club could not replicate the success of the club’s early history. Out of that hot bed of success, notable international riders were nurtured in every category. Riders with tremendous ability, such as Gavin Barnes, Geordie Pickford, the Orr brothers, Anthony Mitchell and of course the Irvine brothers became feared throughout Ireland and beyond. Gerald Irvine is recognised as one of the most talented riders Ireland has ever produced, having not only had a successful continental career but also having represented his country on many occasions.

Harry’s desire is to establish a continental-styled racing team, which offers more than simply bringing together a group of established riders to ride as a trade team. As Harry stated earlier this week; ‘Semi-professional teams tend to come and go as they are only as good as the results they produce. In addition, they do not nurture talent. We want to put in place a structure with a directeur sportif to manage the team, a soigneur to prepare the riders, a sports scientist to direct training and a mechanic to assist the riders in important events.’ Harry went on to point out: ‘As one of the biggest clubs in the country we are blessed with having the personnel to cover each of these positions from within the club. Further, the club committee have set aside a budget to assist with costs and of course North Down Cycling Club has the benefit of having its own transport.’

With regards to the important role of directeur sportif, Harry is fortunate to have at his disposal one of the most experienced cyclists in the country, Alistair Irvine, who has agreed to take on this position. This cyclist has the distinction of representing his country at every level, from under-age through to senior level. As the current Commonwealth Games cycling team manager and with an envious palmare, which includes Northern Irish and Irish championships, two Commonwealth Games medals and an experience of racing all over the world, Alistair has the knowledge to organise the team into an effective racing unit. When Alistair is unavailable Tom Henry has volunteered to carry out the duties of directeur sportif.

To support Alistair, sports scientist Darren McWilliams has agreed to prepare the riders’ training programmes. As a cyclist himself, Darren has an in-depth knowledge of what is required to enable the North Down riders to optimise their potential. In the scientific age in which we live, the role of science in sport has become more and more important. Already Darren has organised a series of training sessions in the clubrooms and special computer linked turbo trainers are being ordered to enable him to carry out tests in the clubrooms.

When it came to the post of soigneur one name sprang to everyone’s mind, that of Harry himself. With a vast experience of sport in general and cycling in particular, being a qualified masseur and having the ability to recognise riders’ needs and the knowledge to offer pertinent advice, Harry would be an obvious choice for any professional outfit and the North Down riders will be fortunate to have him. Before the major designated events, Harry will give all the North Down riders pre-race massages two days before the race as well as pre and post event massages.

The position of team mechanic has also been filled from within the club’s ranks in the form of Declan McMackin. Declan is himself a multi-champion with years of experience not only as a cyclist but also as a cycling mechanic. Earlier this winter he ran a course which focused on basic bike maintenance and it was obvious to all the depth of Decci’s knowledge.

A meeting of the racing section has already been held and key races identified for the incoming season. These events cover the full spectrum of racing from under-age to veterans in off-road, time-trials and road races. With such expertise at the helm, the future looks bright for the racing cyclists within North Down. Let’s hope that future champions can be nurtured and those within the club can be given the facilities to achieve their full potential.

Mince Pie Run

The annual mince Pie Run was once again a great success with over 50 completing the various distances. With beautiful mild weather many were encouraged to come out and try to shed some of the weight which they had put on over the Christmas period. Afterwards everyone was grateful, however, for the warm mince pies and coffee. Most importantly this was an excellent opportunity to enjoy some craic and North Down hospitality. We are very much indebted to Noel Boyce for all the hard work he put into making the event the success it undoubtedly was.

Club Quiz

l Boyce is also the brains behind a sporting quiz which is aimed at raising revenue to purchase vital training equipment for the club. There are a range of attractive prizes and Noel assures us that the sheets will provide hours of entertainment. It costs £2 to enter the competition and entry forms can be obtained from any committee member.

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