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Ulster Cyclo-Cross - 2014/2015 Season

Date: Sunday 5 October 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 1
Location: Lurgan Park
Host club: Apollo CT

It was a return to Lurgan Park for the first round of the Ulster Cyclo-cross season 2014 hosted by Apollo Cycling Team on Sunday 5 October.  Only the Friday before race day had seen any significant rain on the park after 6 weeks of dry weather.  The park was in super condition with vibrant autumn colours which saw the venue full of walkers, children playing and, of course, cyclists.  A special thanks to Craigavon Borough Council for allowing the use of the park and to the park staff for their support.

For the 2014 season the overall series has been sponsored by the ChainReaction Cycles Belfast Store who has also provided an event package at the race which included joint branded podium backdrop and banners, cow bells, sweets, vouchers and a raffle prize.  The first raffle prize of a new helmet was won by Barry Kellett.  Also available were 3 demo Vitus cyclo-cross bikes which were trialled today by some of the riders.

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Date: Sunday 12 October 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 2
Location: Lady Dixon Park 
Host club: Phoenix CC

The sun shone again at Lady Dixon Park bathing the beautiful gardens in warm autumn sunshine.  Bare legs and short sleeved jerseys were the order of the day for the riders who came along to take part in Round 2 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series 2014.  Host club Phoenix CC had been on site from first light setting out the course, setting up gazebos and getting ready for the tidal wave of entries, breaking all previous records.  The club wish to thanks Belfast City Council for their support of the race and to the on site park wardens for their help.  There were a few changes to the course set up with the youth races (for the Under 6s up to the Under 12s) now located in a section of the park close to the house.  This grass area had been marked out so that it increased in length as the race categories moved up.  For the senior race, the course had been modified in parts to run in reverse of last year as well as taking in new sections of the park.  The plank jumps were located on a bank behind the finish line, the steps (with sand) were located close to where 'carnage corner' was last year.  The course made great use of the grass areas of the park switching back and forward to take in the slope of the hill.   

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Date: Sunday 19 October 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 3
Location: Windmill Park 
Host club: Island Wheelers

The Ulster Cyclo-cross series made its third return to Windmill Park where Island Wheelers were once again hosts.  With strong winds and heavy rain the night before the participants all expected another wet event in Dungannon.  However, the sun came out for the youth races and the day got off to a great start.  The course designers had upped their game with a super set up for the youth races which were created in the middle of the grass area, right in the heart of the event, but in such as way that the adult course was independent and wrapped around the youth courses allowing lots of time for main course practice.  The adult course had also been developed from previous years providing a great mixture of muddy sections and tarmac paths.  

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Date: Sunday 26 October 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 4
Location: Castle Park. Bangor
Host club: North Down Cycling Club

In 2013 North Down Cycling Club revived off-road racing at Castle Park in Bangor, a location that has seen many races over generations of cyclists.  On Sunday 26 October 2014 the club then hosted Round 4 of the 2014 Ulster Cyclo-cross series building on their experience from 2013.  The race timing had been moved up onto the hill above the Aurora Leisure Centre close to the trees.  The course was mostly set within the trees but with finish area out on the exposed grass where a spiral had been put in to test the riders and make them a little dizzy!  As per 2013 the weather had remained mostly dry all day but there was a strong south-westerly which was playing havoc with the course marking tape.  Sign on took place in a room within the Aurora leisure centre where the catering and prize giving also took place.  The centre naturally had great changing facilities as well.

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Date: Sunday 2 November 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 5
Location: Moira Demesne
Host club: Dromara Cycling Club

It was the turn of Dromara Cycling Club to host a round of the 2014 Ulster Cyclo-cross series and it was back to Moira Demesne which was the club's fourth time at this venue.  Course set up began on Saturday morning in dry conditions but by 4 pm on Saturday afternoon there was heavy rain which lasted until dawn on Sunday morning.  Riders and organisers knew there'd be plenty of mud at Moira!  Race morning was bright with clear blue skies and warm autumn sunshine.  The team was on hand from 7 am completing the set up of the course which had a long 300 metre starting 'straight' before heading along a grass bank onto a wood chip avenue which runs up the centre of the park.  On the Lurgan side of the park there was a series of grass spaces which were fully utilised with lots of 180o turns, before the course headed along the front of the old wall towards the sign on area where the spectators were able to watch the dismounting skills at the plank obstacles.  The final section of the course took the riders up beside the changing rooms where there was a fast sweeping curve before the finishing straight.  

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Date: Sunday 9 November 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 6
Location: Seacourt, Larne
Host club: Team Madigan

Seacourt lies on the cliffs overlooking Belfast Lough on the outskirts of Larne.  The Community Centre is situated behind the impressive Catepillar factory and boasts a great 3G football pitch, community hall, kitchen and changing facilities.  The grass areas around the centre have been used by Team Madigan for the last four years.  The course was modified from last year but still made use of the split level grass area set up; the short, steep, muddy climbs; as well as the infamous tight short gravel path at the far end of the course.  The lead up to the event had seen days of heavy rain and it was expected that Round 6 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series would be a mud bath, however, this was not the case.  The course was greasy but largely dry and fast.  There was one section close to the boundary fence which was muddy but this only formed a short section of the overall course.  Race day was dry with hardly a breeze.  The club had set up the short course as before which this year was only used by the Under 6s and Under 8s. The Under 10s and 12s were moved over to the senior course and got to use the upper section of the grass areas.  This was a big step up from last year but the young riders did very well.  

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Date: Sunday 16 November 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 7
Location: Ormeau Park, Belfast
Host club: Xmtb McConvey Cycles

The sun shown on Ormeau Park on Sunday 16 November 2014 after a week of heavy rain which had caused floods across the country.  Course designer Mark Harvey from the host club Xmtb McConvey Cycles had his work cut out for him trying to create a cycle course around the many wet areas of the park.  This event had suffered last year in the same venue with rain on the day turning a fast flowing course into a heavy struggle.  The course that was created this year was fast flowing for large sections with only a few areas getting churned up with the many cyclists that were taking part.  The club is very thankful to Belfast City Council for the use of the changing rooms, bike wash, parking on the gravel pitch and general support with the event.  

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Date: Sunday 23 November 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 8
Location: Falls Park, Belfast
Host club: VC Glendale

The eighth and final round of the 2014 Ulster Cyclo-cross series took place at the new venue of Falls Park in Belfast on Sunday 23 November.  Known as the "Gp of the Falling Leaves CX", local club VC Glendale took the plunge with this being their first open event they have organised.  The park itself has a great pavilion for sign on, with changing rooms and showers as well as a bike wash laid on.  The club wish to thank Belfast City Council for the use of the park and for the park wardens who were on site all day helping with the logistics.  Race day started off cold but with bright blue skies and hardly a cloud to be seen.  There had been a lot of rain in the lead up to the race and the grass areas were still full of water.

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Date: Sunday 14 December 2014
Event: Ulster Cyclo-cross Championships
Location: Drum Manor Forest, Cookstown
Host club: Carn Wheelers

Carn Wheelers played host to the Ulster Cyclo-cross championships for the third year in a row at Drum Manor forest which is located outside of Cookstown in County Tyrone.  There had been a gap of 3 weeks from the last round of the Ulster Cyclo-cross series and riders had been faced with the challenge of maintaining form while the weather turned cold with some snow and ice around.  The race organisers had been on site on Saturday setting up the course which was covered in frost.  Thankfully the night had been mild and overcast with no frost or ice issues.  The club wish to thank the Forestry Service for the use of the venue which boasts ample car parking with a shower block on site as well as bike washing facilities.  The course is a mixture of forest gravel roads, sections through the trees and a large event field which is on a slope to make for a tough finish.  The youth races were all contained within the event field with all categories starting on the main forest road.

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Date: Friday 26 December 2014
Event: Charity Cyclo-cross Race
Location: Lady Dixon Park, Belfast
Host club: Phoenix Cycling Club

Many other sports have their Boxing Day fixtures, so why not cycling thought John Bogues from Phoenix Cycling Club.  John had already ran a cyclo-cross event this season at Lady Dixon Park in Belfast so went back to Belfast City Council to seek permission to run an event on Boxing Day 2014.  The event was open to riders aged 16 or over on cyclo-cross or mountain bikes with all proceeds in aid of some great local causes -  Friends of the Cancer Centre, The Belgian Project & The Davy McCall Foundation.  There was just one race at 12:30 on a new course which was very spectator friendly.  Christmas music was provided by the McConvey family along with cups of steaming hot mulled wine.  This went down well as the temperature was around 3 degrees with light rain falling.  Just over 40 riders attended and lined up in one bunch waiting for the whistle to start 8 laps.  It was no surprise to find David Montgomery (ChainReaction Cycles), Roger Aiken (Banbridge CC) and Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) out in front.  These guys are among the top riders in Ireland in cyclo-cross and they will be looking ahead to the National Championships on Sunday 11 January 2015 down in Swords.  David was the clear winner today with Glenn getting past Roger on the final lap to have all 3 finish just under 50 minutes.  Jason Henry, Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) and Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) finished 4th, 5th and 6th respectively under 52 minutes.  Junior rider Cameron McIntyre (Banbridge CC), Veteran rider Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) and course designer and event director John Bogues (Phoenix CC) finished 7th, 8th and 9th respectively.  The only female finisher was Emma Convey (DTC Orwell Wheelers) of the three who started.

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