It is not difficult to understand why Cyclo Cross is becoming a very loved sport in Ireland and start getting support of the public in large. What’s not to like comes to my mind, free entry for spectators, families coming together each week to support their loved ones, free food and beverages for all, medals for the under aged competitors, venues who reflect the beauty of the country, very pro run of this events, the smiles and tears of the young, the encouragements of their families, the camaraderie before and after each race. Events where mum, dad and their kids all can have a go in a safe environment, small and not so small companies begin to see the benefits and exposure of such off road events, local tourism get a boosted with hundreds extra visitors to their towns and very welcomed in the winter when not many tourists about. An example was the Shimna CX at Donard Park Newcastle yesterday, situated between the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea in County Down. A sleepy seaside town during the winter months but livened up by their local club Shimna Wheelers yesterday (Sunday 4th November) with their annual held cross (3th Edition). Close to 300 entries divided in 6 races and a fun race for the under 6 kids. A compact cycling village at the finish line, caravan and team park opposite the village and big car park in close walking distance. In the morning we had the underage races (U8-U10-U12) and this attracts the big crowds each Sunday with fierce battles between friends done on a different course to accommodate their age. More and more clubs begin to bring their youth to our cyclo cross and this need to be encouraged to sustain the growth of the sport. Here a photo we took of Antrim’s Dunloy CC youth team to promote such efforts.
The afternoon belonged to older ones, and first main race was the combined U/16 & U/14 & Women’s Elite and Juniors, and Women’s MTB Support race. (Full results of all races on bottom of the report courtesy of Ulster Cyclo Cross) The Elite women’s and Junior race was a Polish affair with a Munster Junior held between them. From the start of the race the Scott-Eurocycles Klaudia Bajolek and Asia Bula took control at the front and soon joined by Kanturk Stone’s Junior Lucy O’Donnell. They never got challenged anymore as they made ground to the first chasers with Rachel Irvine (The Bike House Bangor) the only danger but the front girls kept their lead safe enough to start thinking about winning the race. A very talented and fast Klaudia got the better of young Lucy with leader of the league Asia Bula and team mate of Klaudia in 3th. Asia can not be caught anymore points wise and will be crowned the Ulster league Champ end year. On that result we had an interview with Asia after the race and we will broadcast the chat later on this week, and talking about love of the sport this interview will make it very clear..It’s a Diamond my polish friend Asia said..the venue, the people of N-Ireland, the welcome and the course..what a compliment for the organisers Shimna Wheelers. I loved the interview as it was so natural and became a chat about the passion we both love and cherish, looking forward to see the end result when top photographer and camera man David Mc Veigh has edited his work. Some of his work already can be seen including most photos including feature photos in this report on https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebelgianproject/albums/72157673097915617/Next was the Elite Men & Junior race with some big guns present such as Niall Davis and Adam McGarr from the Biking.ie stable as visitors from the South of Ireland and our local talent such as Thomas Creighton and Graham Boyd from Mc Convey Cycles Team and routinier Glenn Kinning who leads the table. Not forgetting Lewis Ferguson from The Bike House Bangor always lurking for a podium place. It became very soon visible that Thomas had his sights on the top of the rooster with the only danger close by Niall who made it not easy for the eventually winner Thomas but had to give in at the last lap. Graham had the better of Lewis for 3th place and very impressive junior Adam MC Garr 5th. Glenn was 6th and still leads the table with an 9 points advantage to Graham Boyd and this could go to the wire next week in Ormeau Park X-MTB CX (Rd 8 and final round)The last race was the so called B-Race but always attracts the biggest field each week..its a race to reach the 100 points and be promoted to the A-Race (Elite men & Juniors) It gives an upwards effect as the leading table change every week due to the points system. Yesterday’s winner Martin Harney (Phoenix CC) impressed us all with a very dominating win, Andy Layhe (Trail Demons & Bike Pure Founder) the only close enough one to be a danger but had to let Martin go in the end and finished second. Mark Gordon (Newry Wheelers) a very respectable 3th who had the better of Darren MC Cann (Dromara CC) in fourth. A long day came to a finish, the music faded away and people made they home journey..some as far as Waterford with photographer John Hammer who regularly visit our events in the North and this for no commercial gain and just proves that the love of the sport is deeply embedded in our hearts..The feel of belonging very much visible to all sundry.. A part of our beloved sport where you can not hide and only your legs and determination will bring you to the finish..Thanks so much Shimna Wheelers and his volunteers for presenting us with such memorable event..and who ever made the pea soup and stew..it made the wind blow a bit stronger but never less delicious. A thank you to the promoters Shimna Wheelers CC for the donation toward the Belgian Project for doing the commentary and will be added to the fuel money of the project ( one of our biggest expenditure each year) Many thanks to the promoters and their volunteers for creating an atmosphere worthy repeating next year and happy to see your hard work being paid off in full. Results and lap times courtesy of Chief Comm Martin Grimley and Comm Lisa Millar, not forgetting Comm Jim Adams in the pit. http://www.ulstercyclocross.com/Results/Ulster_Cyclo_cross_2018_Round_7_Donard_Results.htm