Ulster Cyclo-Cross

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All Ireland CX 2017

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History 2016-2017

Date: Friday 23 September 2016
Event: Kinning GP Round 1 2016
Location: Orangefield Park, Belfast
Host club: Kinning Cycles

As a pre-season warm up, Glenn Kinning took on the task of organising his club's first cyclo-cross race at his local venue of Orangefield Park in Belfast.  The park hosts a number of football pitches as well as walking areas but, for the cycling fraternity, Orangefield is about the outdoor race track.  Glenn has always had the idea of incorporating the track into a wider race which would bring new people to the venue to have a go at racing on the tarmac surface with the high banks at either end.  To get the event fitted into the busy calendar, a Friday evening was chosen which included laying on a bouncy castle for the small ones and catering vans supplying tea & coffee as well as burgers and chips in a cone.  True Belgium style including our own Dany Blondeel on the microphone.

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Date: Sunday 25 September 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 1
Location: Lurgan Park
Host club: Apollo CT

It was back to Lurgan Park for the start of another season of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series.  The morning started with bright, warm, autumn sunshine but the grass areas were wet after the heavy rain on Saturday.  This year the sign on returned to the bowling pavilion with the youth races (Under 6s ,8s, 10s and 12s) all starting and finishing around the pavilion and tennis courts.  The afternoon races were put back one hour to accommodate a 10k running race which was also happening in the park.

The cyclo-cross race categories are dependent upon the age that the rider will be on the 1st January 2017.  This meant that, for example, the second year Under 10s were now competing in the Under 12s race.  This "upgrade" affected all catgories of youth as well as the age categories of the senior A race.

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Date: Sunday 2 October 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 2
Location: Falls Park, Belfast 
Host club: VC Glendale

The second round of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place at Falls Park in Belfast.  The is the third year that VC Glendale has hosted an event at this venue but the first time that it has been run in October.  A big thank you to Belfast City Council for permission to use the park and to the park wardens for their assistance on the day and in the lead up to the event.  All race categories used the main tarmac path as their start and finish area.  The youth races (Under 6s up to Under 12s) used their own section of the park which allowed the other riders to practice on the main circuit.

As in previous years the park was full of banners from sponsors and, of course, Belgian flags with Dany Blondell and his Belgium project in attendance.  Sign on was in the pavilion which also has shower facilities and a great kitchen and dining area.  The day was bright and sunny with just a nip of cold when standing out of the sunlight but hardly a breath of wind.

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Date: Sunday 16 October 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 3
Location: Lady Dixon Park, Belfast 
Host club: Phoenix CC

Round 3 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross Series 2016 took place on Sunday 16 October at Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast.  Hosted by Phoenix Cycling Club this is the sixth year that the club has run a CX race at this venue.  Many thanks to Belfast City Council for supporting the event.  With a big pre-enter for this round the car parks were expected to get full very quickly.  There had been heavy rain on the Saturday night which eased off by early morning allowing the volunteers to get the course set up.  Just before the sign on opened the heavy rain returned and was prolonged enough to create puddles and mud everywhere.  The sign on tent was under pressure with those inside having to move tables around to avoid the drips.  Before the first rider signed on there were puddles inside the tent!

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Date: Sunday 30 October 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 4
Location: St. Columbs Park, Londonderry 
Host club: Foyle CC

Round 4 of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series saw the return to St. Columb's Park in Londonderry with Foyle CC hosting.  Headquarters for the event was in the Foyle Arena which has to be the best sign on area of the series.  The centre also offers great changing facilities and warm showers.  The course was down in the main park with the start and finish for all events taking place on the gravel running track.  The course has a mix of grass and tarmac path and, with the dry weather in the lead up to the event, the ground conditions lead to fast racing.  Last year seen the arrival of storm Clodagh with rain and strong waves, whereas this year the flags were hanging limp and the conditions were warm.

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Date: Sunday 6 November 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 5
Location: Windmill Park, Dungannon
Host club: Island Wheelers

Round 5 of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place at Windmill Park in Dungannon.  This was the fifth year that the host club, Island Wheelers, have ran races in this park and thanks must be given again to the Mid Ulster District Council for their continued support.  The council even provided several high quality gazebos on the day and works closely with the club in the preparation of the park.  As has come to be expected from Island Wheelers, there was a great set up with regards to the course, sign on and catering.  The club has developed their youth courses to fit inside the main course so that the youth races can take part while the seniors are practicing on the main course.  Despite the rain in the days leading up to the event, ground conditions were dry on arrival.  The day itself started off with bright autumn sunshine and clear blue skies.  There was a light shower during the youth races but it quickly cleared up and left the remainder of the day in bright sunshine again.

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Date: Sunday 13 November 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 6
Location: Seacourt, Larne
Host club: Team Madigan

It was a return to Seacourt in Larne for Round 6 of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series.  This is the 7th year that Team Madigan have hosted off-road cycle races at this location which boasts a great community centre with kitchen, showers and changing facilities on site.  The venue offers a wide expanse of grass area to design a course on with the designers making great use of the sloping off-camber sections.  With the elevation of the area there is a great view over the Belfast Lough allowing the spectators to watch the ships coming in and out.  There was also a separate area for the Under 6s and Under 8s to compete on.

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Date: Sunday 20 November 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 7
Location: Ormeau Park, Belfast
Host club: Xmtb McConvey Cycles

Ormeau Park in Belfast was the venue for Round 7 of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series with host club Xmtb McConvey Cycles continuing to work closely with land owners Belfast City Council to build on their history of running events in the park.  The club had made a major shift the previous year in the location of the main centre of the race, moving the action closer to the Ormeau Road side of the park.  After positive feedback last year the event was again centred on that side of the park but further modifications had been on the course and the start/finish line.  Race morning was very cold with frost on the ground but thankfully the temperature lifted just enough to ensure that the riders could use some of the tarmac paths to race on.  The weather remained dry with little wind but was misty with the sun struggling to penetrate the haze.

 

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Date: Sunday 27 November 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 8
Location: The Jungle NI, Moneymore
Host club: Carn Wheelers

Round 8 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series was hosted by Carn Wheelers at a new venue of The Jungle NI, based just outside Moneymore.  This outdoor adventure site boasts activities like paint balling, zorbing, llama treking, clay pigeon shooting, tree top walks etc.  With a car park on the opposite side of the road and a tunnel to the site, there was lots of room for the large gathering of riders.  The event headquarters was inside the main building which has two floors, the bottom floor for used for registrations whereas the top floor had a café, sofas, large screen TV and the podium set up.  The start line for all race categories was beside the zorping run.  Race day was mild with a cool breeze and thankfully it stayed dry.

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Date: Sunday 4 December 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 9
Location: Donard Park, Newcastle
Host club: Shimna Wheelers

Shimna Wheelers expressed an interest in hosting a round of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series this year.  They took on Round 9 of the series and held it in the stunning venue of Donard Park in Newcastle with the looming Mourne Mountains as the backdrop.  The weather was mild and the ground was fast, firm and dry.  Very unusual conditions for a race taking place in the first week of December.  Sign on took place in O'Hare's pub with amble parking in the main public car park outside.  The race itself took place in the main green spaces just beyond the car park, making great use of the rising nature of the grass areas.  The main finish line was beside the gravel path near the football pitch and from this flat area the spectators had a great view of the whole course.  The youth courses were based in the first field which was flat and only had the short climb up into the trees.  The main races incorporated the youth course but also included a set of steps within the trees, great use of the largest field with its long straights and sweeping corners and then out onto the tarmac road to take in the highest placed field which lies close to the entrance of the local YMCA.  The 'top field' had some very twisty sections which involved lots of short sharp sprints.  The exit from the top field was over a round log, back onto the tarmac road and then diving back into the trees.

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Date: Sunday 11 December 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 10
Location: Castle Park, Bangor
Host club: North Down CC

Castle Park in Bangor has been running off-road cycling events since the days of black and white photographs.  Some of the riders who turned up on Sunday to race were probably in those early photos!  The race was the 10th and final round of the 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross series and was hosted by North Down CC.  The course was based around the grass areas near the hockey pitch, went up and over the bank past the football pitches and into the woods.  It was a stretched course with the far end of the track near the town hall.  At the far end was a tricky climb with a short tarmac section before a set of steps.  The weather had remained dry and the course was quite fast.  Sign on took place in the basement area of the Aurora centre which also had showers and changing facilities.  The start/finish was on a wide grass section to the left of the hockey pitch with the pits up on the top of the hill.  A big thank you to North Down and Ards Council for the use of the site and thanks to Chain Reaction Cycles Belfast Flagship Store for providing the vouchers for the youth prizes.

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Date: Sunday 18 December 2016
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Championships
Location: Mallusk Playing Fields, Belfast
Host club: Kinning Cycles

The 2016 Ulster Cyclo-cross Championships was hosted by Kinning Cycles at the new venue of Mallusk Playing Fields on the outskirts of Belfast.  The venue has football and rugby pitches, changing rooms and large car parks.  The course was based towards the back of the venue and went around the edges of the pitches making use of the various embankments and steps as well as a large pile of sand which had been conveniently placed to allow the organisers to incorporate it into the course design.  There was a double pit at the top of the hill on some waste ground with the start line on the tarmac road at the entrance to the car park.  Also in the car park was the team from the BMX stunt crew who were putting on a display of bike skills as well as letting youth riders have a go.

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