Date: Sunday 12 September 2010
Event: Ulster Series Round 7 / Ulster MTB Championships
Location: Tollymore Forest Park
Host club: Banbridge CC
The 2010 Ulster Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships were held on Sunday 12 September at the excellent Tollymore Forest Park, County Down. The event was hosted by Banbridge Cycling Club, who have had a long history of organising off-road racing events, and attracted over 140 riders from age 5 to 50+. The club were very pleased to have received sponsorship to run the event from the Ulster Bank.
This event also marked the seventh and final round of the UlsterXC series which has seen a huge increase in the number of youth riders competing in their respective age categories. The category for the Under 8s has seen the biggest increase with an average of 24 young competitors across the series. The adult introductory level called “Sports” is also increasing its numbers with 35 taking part on Sunday. Course designer William Mulligan and his team have spent the last 4 weeks preparing the course which proved to be one of the most challenging for the series. The day of the event was bright with sunny spells but the recent rain made the course muddy and added to the already challenging set up. The club had worked closely with the Forestry Service in the set up of the race and were able to have exclusive use of one of the camping fields for car parking, sign on and the start of the race circuit.
First race of the day was for the Under 8s with 27 lined up for 2 laps of the mini course. The course proved difficult for a lot of the riders with roots and dips to negotiate but they didn't prove to be a problem for race winner Cathir Doyle (Carn Wheelers) who finished strongly 50 seconds ahead of his nearest rival Jack Baird from the host club. Carn Wheelers' riders Andrew Gordon and Kathryn Doyle, took the next two positions with Niamh McGivern finishing just behind Kathryn to take 5th with Ben Wilson (Dromara CC) finishing sixth.
Next up were the Under 10s who had 3 laps of the same course to complete. The 13 who were gathered behind the start tape included some highly experienced riders despite their young age. As expected the win went to Mark Buller (Banbridge CC), who has won all the Under 10s races this year with his closest rival Drew Armstrong (Dromara CC) just 16 seconds behind him. Third went to Fergal McConvey (Newry Wheelers), who had only competed in one of the previous rounds of this year's XC series. Fourth went to Ross Ennis, who finished well over a minute ahead of Ben Hanna (Dromara CC) and Callum Stewart (Phoenix CC).
The Under 12s were sitting waiting patiently for the course to clear so they could get away on their race. The 9 riders had 5 laps of the mini course to complete and it was another Buller from Banbridge, John Buller who took the win ahead of fellow club mate Richard Baird. Cian McConvey (Newry Wheelers) was third with Shannon Buller just finishing ahead of Stuart Dunlop (both from Banbridge CC).
Next up were the start of the races using the main course which was approximately 2.5 miles long and incorporated two loops, one on each side of the river with two way traffic on the Ivy Bridge. The club had lots of marshals out across the course to ensure the riders were going the right way and to inform the public who were also out enjoying the forest.
First away were the nine Under 16s who had to complete 3 laps of the senior course and they were followed one minute later by the large field of Sports riders, 35 men and 5 women who also had 3 laps to complete. Setting off a minute behind the Sports riders were the ten Under 14s who had two laps to complete.
In the Under 14s race it was another Banbrider rider James Curry who took the win comfortably. Behind James there was a close battle between Marlena Drozdziok and Ryan Orr (Orchard Wheelers) with Marlena taking second place. Joseph Baird (Banbridge CC) was fourth with Luc Hanna (Newry Wheelers) taking fifth.
There was an upset in the Under 16s when downhiller Christopher McGlinchey (ChainReaction Cycles) took the win ahead of race favourite Stuart Ballantine (XMTB McConvey cycles). Christopher had only ridden in the first round of the UlsterXC series at Lady Dixon Park where he finished fourth. Chris Oakley, also from XMTB McConvey cycles finished third with Jack Shannon fourth and Zak Hanna (Dromara CC) fifth.
In the Sports men race it was league leader Cathal Doyle (Carn Wheelers) who took the win but he was chased all the way to the finish line by Bob Talbot (Harps CC). Gary Sheils (Cuchulainn CC) was third ahead of Gary Jeffers (East Tyrone CC), Jonathan McGlinchey (ChainReaction Cycles) and David Blevins (Harps CC).
In the Sports women's race Dromara CC rider Julie McCrory made it two wins in a row finishing strongly ahead of Ann Duffy (Newry Wheelers) with Dianne Keys in third.
Once the course was clear it was time for the main competitive races to start. Maurice Mayne from the host club had been busy gridding the riders based on the UlsterXC league positions. In the front group were the 8 Elite men. They were followed one minute later by a combined group of two Juniors (aged 17-18) and one Elite Female rider Melanie Spath (MAD mtb). The strong field of 12 veteran racers went next (those aged 40+) and they were followed by 7 Masters (aged 30-40) and finally the 5 Experts (aged 20-30) started. The key to winning this race was to get to the front as soon as possible and try to get a clear run through the many muddy, challenging sections of the course.
The Elite mens race was saw a close battle across the 6 laps between BikePure riders Aiden McDonald and Ray O'Shaughessy and Ryan Sherlock (MAD mtb). In the end it was Ryan who showed his class taking the win ahead of Aiden and Ray. In the Junior race Matthew Adair (Banbridge CC) took the expected win from William Boyd (XMTB McConvey cycles).
In the Veterans race there was a close contest between course designer William Mulligan (Banbridge CC) and John Bogues (Phoenix) which remained close right to the end of the 4 lap race with William finishing just 34 seconds ahead of John. Peter McConville (Newry Wheelers) was third, Simon Curry (Banbridge CC) fourth with Michael Dardis (Epic MTB) fifth and Andrew Burns (Orchard Wheelers) sixth.
In the 5 lap Masters race, Conor Campbell (Revolution) finished almost 5 minutes ahead of Brian Steele (Dromara CC) with Liam McKiverigan (Banbridge CC) third and Clive Caldwell (Omagh Wheelers) in fouth.
Matthew Casey (XMTB McConvey cycles) took his third win in a row in the 5 lap Experts race ahead of Luke Ireland, who had led the race over the first two laps. Jonny Beers (East Antrim) was third with Peter Jones (Lakeland) in fourth.
The day finished off with the prize giving with medals for the Ulster Championships and special plaques made from bicycle chain for the winners of the race presented by Johanne Madeley from the Ulster Bank. Many thanks to all the members of Banbridge Cycling Club who put on a great Mountain Bike Championships.
The off-road racers are now going to switch their attention to the Cyclo-cross season which starts on Sunday 3 October 2010 at Lurgan Park. For more details see www.ulstercyclocross.com
Full results here
Commissaire(s): Martin Grimley, Ciara MacManus
Report by Martin Grimley
Photos by Martin and Vanessa Grimley, Michael Armstrong
For more photos and video click here