7 July 2009

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 Gordons Have the Chemistry

North Down Cycling Club announced this week that they have linked up with Gordons, the High Street chain of pharmacists. When one hears of a cycling club linking up with a pharmacist, there may naturally be a number of questioning glances.

However, in a sport which is as physical as cycling and where crashes are common-place, there is a real need for first aid equipment in the form of plasters, dressings, bandages, sprays and creams. Mr Neil Gordon stated that he was very pleased to assist the club in this way and wished all its members every success in the future. Certainly, the North Down club is appreciative of the support of Gordons, but hopes that this is one item of support that it will rarely use.

Nathan McLeer

Young Saint Columbanus schoolboy, Nathan McLeer returned this week from an exceptionally successful venture into continental racing. Along with fellow 16 year old Jack Wilson (East Antrim) they headed off two weeks ago for a celebration of the end of their GCSE’s and to take the opportunity to develop their cycling experience in Belgium. In all the boys rode 6 events in very hot, fast conditions. However, what was even more unnerving for the boys was the size of the fields with upwards of a hundred being compacted into narrow, twisting roads, with even some cobbled sections thrown in for good measure. To finish such races is an accomplishment but to finish in the top half is a real achievement. Nathan was therefore, delighted to record really high finishes such as 23rd, 16th, 15th and14th.

All-in-all this proved to be a very beneficial trip for the talented teenager and has really whetted his appetite for the continental scene. In the short term it will mean he will be entering the Irish Youth Championships in Arklow this weekend brimming with confidence.

European Championships

Meanwhile Nathan’s team mate, Stuart Henry was also competing in Belgium last weekend. He was riding as part of the four man Irish team in the European Road Race Championships. The course chosen for the 200 strong field included a long cobbled section which incorporated two climbs. This part of the course had to be covered 8 times.

Henry’s experience of riding the cobbles meant that he knew he had to always be near the front. However, this is easier said than done with 200 vying for the same position. As they hit the cobbles the first time Henry was impeded by one of the British riders, who came off in front of him. He remounted and chased, catching the main group as the ascended the climb.

Unfortunately on one of the descents, near the finish, there was another major pile-up and although Henry didn’t fall, the road was blocked with broken machines and fallen competitors. After the malaise was sorted he again gave chase but the group that had avoided the crash were never going to be caught. Henry’s only consolation for an event which he described as ‘brutal’ was that he was the highest placed Irish rider to finish.

Bobby Crilly Classic

Nearer home, the pink and black was very evident at the front of the Bobby Crilly Classic. The event, which took in three laps of the Nutts Corner, Longrig Road, Seven Mile Straight circuit finished with a real sting in the tail, at the top of Divis mountain.
The race was split into three groups, separated by a two minute gap. However, the scratch bunch, which included Neil McKenna and Paul Ferguson, rode strongly and caught the limit before the end of lap three.

Omagh’s Ondrei Slobodnik proved his strength by taking third with Kieran McKenna (East Antrim Audi), Conor McAllister(Ballymena Scott) and our own Neil McKenna completing the top six, just ahead of Paul Ferguson and William Barclay.

For Neil and Paul this performance is confirmation that last week’s superb performance in the National championships was not a ‘one-off’, but the fore-runner of things to come. For William, this was a performance of real merit and one which should give him confidence for events such as the Ards Three Day.

Results Bobby Crilly
1, Conor Murphy (Usher IRC)
2. Ryan Sherlock (MTB Assoc of Dublin)
3. Ondrei Slobodnik (Omagh Wheelers)
4 Kieran McKenna (East Antrim Audi)
5. Conor McAllister(Ballymena Scott)
6. Neil McKenna (North Down)

Ulster 50 Championships

John Hunter is once again on the trail of PB’s as he recorded a fine time of 2 hours and three minutes in the Ulster 50 mile Time Trial Championships. The event was won by John Madden Bann Wheelers 1.47.23 who set a new National record in the process.


The club road races at Kirkiston are proving to be a big hit with bigger and bigger fields enjoying the closed circuit. Last Wednesday night’s club race was no exception with the main dilemma for race organiser Eric Blayney being sorting out the final sprint for the line.


  1. Neil McKenna

  2. Matty Blayney

  3. Michael Hamilton

  4. Alastair Irvine

  5. Noel Boyce

  6. Gary Davidson

July Ramble

This year’s July club ramble will be taking the traditional route through the scenic countryside of North and South Down taking in Newtownards, Comber, Annacloy, Loughinisland and Clough, arriving at the foot of the Mournes in Newcastle for refreshments. The return journey will include Tyrella and Strangford with the short ferry crossing to Portaferry and onward through the Peninsula to Bangor.

This is a popular ride which mainly uses quiet country roads and which progresses at a reasonable touring pace. It can be excellent preparation for upcoming touring and sportive events. The ramble will set off from the clubrooms in Park Drive at 9am sharp on Tuesday 14th July.

Youth Hostelling

Those interested in a weekend’s Youth Hostelling in the Sperrins in September should contact Julie Stevenson asap, in order that the necessary arrangements can be made. This is an excellent opportunity to share cycling experiences in unfamiliar territory.

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