Cyclo Cross, Round 4, Moira

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Colm McLarnon – Live and Unleashed:

 Sunday 6th November saw our ‘cross team make the journey up to Moira for Round 4 of the Ulster Cyclo Cross series. The good weather meant another good turnout with Michael McMullan, Michael Hamilton, Garth Beattie, Johnny Webb, Ross Blayney and Colm McLarnon.

This was to be Colm’s first foray into cycling’s craziest discipline so today was going to be a big day for him one way or another……

Ross showed his intent straight from the gun though and found himself battling for third place once the chaos of the first lap died down. Ross, a very classy rider with some exceptional wins to his name, was up where he belongs, battling with the top boys for overall. Unfortunately Lady Luck can play a large part in ‘cross and it looked like today she was not smiling on Ross. On a nasty off camber corner Ross dropped the bike and the handlebars slammed round and hit his knee. Ross, undeterred, climbed back on and doggedly fought his way back up through the bunch. Gradually though the adrenaline wore off and the pain finally overcame Ross who had to climb off on lap 2.  It shows Ross is hitting a rich vein of form however so it would be a foolish man to bet against him putting in a big performance at Rostrevor on the 27th.

The weather on the day had turned out to be dry but since the ground had been waterlogged for weeks beforehand it had the effect of turning the mud into a sticky gloop that bound up wheels, gears and filled the space between the bike frame and the wheels. This proved to be Michael McMullan’s undoing as it forced him to stop not far from the finish line and “ungloop” his bike. This allowed Michael No.1 to catch up with Michael No.2 meaning that the finish line that was only one lap away was going to be closely contested. The two Michaels battled “mano a mano” right up to the line and it was Michael No.2 who took the North Down honours lapping Garth in the process. It was good to see Michael No.2 take the result particularly after his fall a few weeks previously though there were some who observed that Michael No.1, winner of Tour of Ulster stages amongst other notable results, was getting soft in his old age.        Did the killer instinct desert him when it came to the sprint for the line?

Meanwhile Johnny went about quietly learning his trade tackling the course in a workmanlike manner.  With a handful of rounds still to go and a dedicated approach to his training he could well begin to do some damage in his category.

It’s a well-known fact that a rider with a bit of form tends to keep the fact to himself and simply let his results do his talking for him. Garth Beattie proved this adage is no Old Wives Tale. Showing staggering consistency in his finishing position his loud outbursts pre-race were to haunt him like Freddie Kreuger in a bad dream.

Where did the sailors dig Colm McLarnon out from though and why have they been hiding him? Unleashed straight out of the box he was showing the sailors how to ride ‘cross and you could be forgiven for thinking he’d been riding the discipline for years. With a couple more rounds left to hone his skills he could be up there with the more experienced ‘cross men by the time the Rostrevor come up. Showing this amount of natural talent and good form after his first round should mean he goes into the rest of the championship with sky high confidence!

At the sharp end of the field Roger Aiken was storming to overall victory ahead of international junior rider Jack Wilson with Tim O’Regan in third. Aiken’s win was his fourth straight victory in the series, having now won all of the rounds so far this season.

Sunday 27th will see the final round of the series held in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor. Another fabulous course with a little bit of everything.  Grassy fields, steep banks and some fast singletrack through the woods it’s a course sure to please both rider and spectator alike!

So even if you don’t fancy joining our hardy team of cross riders it’s a great day out with plenty of action for spectators to watch. Rumour has it that Duane McCreadie will be flying in from England to contest the final round albeit in the Mountain Bike Class. So with North Down riders competing in all the major categories it should be a big day out.

Michael McMullan