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Ulster Cyclo-Cross - 2012/2013 Season

 

Date: Sunday 7 October 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 1
Location: Lurgan Park
Host club: Apollo CT

The first round of the 2012 Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place on Sunday 7 October at Lurgan Park.  Organising club Apollo CT were on site from 7 am setting up the course and preparing for sign on to open.  It was a mild, dry and bright day with lots of autumn sunshine bouncing off the yellowing leaves on the trees and on top of the grass.  The ground had dried well since the heavy rain on Thursday with only a few patches of mud for the riders to negotiate.  Sign on opened at 9:30 at the tennis pavilion and there was a steady stream of riders coming along to register with 170 participating.  This was a great turn out for the first of the seven rounds.

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Date: Sunday 14 October 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 2
Location: Ballymacormick Park, Bangor
Host club: North Down CC

Ballymacormick Park in Bangor was the venue for round 2 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series 2012 which was held on Sunday 14 November 2012 by local club North Down CC.  This was the club's first venture into hosting an off-road race in 10 years and, on top of that, this was the first time that this venue had been used for cross-racing.  The club has seen a remarkable uptake in cyclo-cross racing after a great season in 2011 and they should be congratulated for stepping up to host a round of the Ulster series in 2012.  The circuit was laid out on the grassy area around the rugby pitches making good use of the small hills and having plenty of switchbacks to achieve the distance required.  There had been heavy overnight rain which left the circuit muddy but with enough firm soil beneath the grass to allow the riders to maintain a steady pace.  The venue had plenty of parking as well as changing facilities with showers (although there was only cold water in them today!).  Members of the club had been on site from early morning setting up the course and were blessed with dry conditions overhead right up until the start of the main cyclo-cross race at 1 pm.  The number of participants was down from Round 1 partly due to a similar event taking place in Dublin but still around 130 came along to enjoy cycling in the mud.

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Date: Sunday 21 October 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 3
Location: Lady Dixon Park, Belfast
Host club: Phoenix CC

Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park in Belfast played host to Round 3 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series 2012.  Host club Phoenix Cycling Club repeatedly expressed their gratitude to Belfast City Council for the use of the park and to the park staff for their co-operation before and after the races.  This is only the second year that this park has been used for cross racing and, as per last year, the riders and spectators were greeted to a fine autumn day, warm with barely a breeze.  The park was in a beautiful condition and the organisers had laid out a great course, similar to last year but with more added for all races.  The race itself attracted over 200 competitors to a full complement of races for youth and senior riders.

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Date: Sunday 4 November 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 4
Location: Moira Park, Moira
Host club: Dromara CC

Round 4 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series 2012 took place on Sunday 4 November 2012 in Moira Demesne in the centre of the village of Moira in County Down.  This was the second year that the host club, Dromara CC, were able to use this park and the club is grateful for the continued support from Lisburn City Council who were able to provide even more facilities this year for the race including changing and shower facilities, bike wash and pedestrian barriers.  The morning had started out damp but dried up to give a bright if cool morning.  However, around 11 am a heavy shower arrived which soaked the Under 12s who were out racing at the time.  This left the course rather wet which quickly turned into mud for the senior races.  The mud, combined with lots of autumn leaves on the grass played havoc on the bikes causing a few retirements from the race.

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Date: Sunday 18 November 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 5
Location: Ormeau Park, Belfast
Host club: Xmtb McConvey Cycles

It was a return to Ormeau Park in Belfast for Xmtb McConvey Cycles who hosted round 5 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series 2012 with thanks to Belfast City Council.  It was a cool, bright day which greeted the riders to this popular circuit with the first races of the day starting just after 10:30.  The course designers had modified both the youth and adult course taking account of the new paths that the council had recently installed.

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Date: Sunday 02 December 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 6
Location: Seacourt, Larne
Host club: Team Madigan

Seacourt Community Centre sits up on a hill in the port of Larne overlooking Belfast Lough and it is the sorrounding grass area that Team Madigan cycling club make great use of for off-road cycle racing.  This was the penultimate round of the Ulster Cyclo-cross 2012 series and the third time that the host club have used this site.  It certainly felt like the start of December at the exposed site with a cool biting early morning wind but thankfully no rain.  The course was in great condition after a few days of dry weather which pleased everyone. The memory of last year's muddy race was still etched in the minds of those riders who braved the conditions last year.  This year's senior course was fast and suits the road racers more than the mountain bikers.

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Date: Sunday 16 December 2012
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 7, Ulster Cyclo-cross championships
Location: Drum Manor Forest, Cookstown
Host club: Carn Wheelers

Drum Manor Forest outside Cookstown was the venue for Round 7 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series which also doubled up as the Ulster Cyclo-cross championships.  Host club Carn Wheelers were running their first cyclo-cross race and it was the first time that the club had used this forest for off-road racing.  The section of the forest used was well away from the popular public areas of the forest with the main action taking place is an open grass area which was on a slope making cycling difficult.  To add to the difficulty the club had set up a spiral section at the lower end of the field with the centrepiece of a scaffold bridge drawing the biggest number of spectators.  The course then weaved its way out of the field and into the fire road section of the forest.  There were plenty of features to keep the riders alert on each tough lap.

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Date: Sunday 6 January 2013
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross New Year event
Location: Windmill Wood, Dungannon
Host club: Island Wheelers

Island Wheelers brought in 2013 with some style with lots of muddy racing around the new venue at Windmill Park in Dungannon.  This was the club's first time hosting a cyclo-cross race and they had put in a huge amount of work preparing the park for the arrival of riders from as far afield as Dublin.  The park has a great green area for the youth races which was also used by the seniors.  This provided racing action for spectators with a well laid out zig zagging course.  The seniors headed off into the trees with sections broken up by tarmac path.  The course had been bone dry up to Saturday morning but on Saturday night the rain came and turned sections of the course into thick mud.  The mud was sore on some bikes but the riders charged off enthusatically on a course that kept the rider thinking.  This is winter racing and mud is to be expected.  The course was well received and it is hoped that Island Wheelers will make this event a regular feature in the Ulster cyclo-cross series next Winter.

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