Report and results courtesy of Martin Grimley (Commissaire and Off-road commission CI) Photos BP Media (David & Jerome & Dany) Over 300 photos of David on https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebelgianproject/albums/72157720079259422
The last time Ballymena Road Club ran a cyclo-cross race was in 2004. It was great to have the club back in the fold as they hosted Round 2 of the Ulster series on Sunday 24 October 2021. The club was able to get access to a new venue – Ballee Playing Fields. The site used to belong to the Ballee Community High School but has been largely abandoned since the school closed in 2014. The venue boasts a gravel football pitch, grass football pitch, tennis courts as well as changing rooms and toilets on site. It is a wide-open, flat site that allowed spectators to see the riders across the whole course. Race start was on the gravel pitches and went up onto the grass for a long, wide, straight section of the course before the first turn. The course designers had made great use of the site including arranging for an overgrown section at the edge of the park to be cut to allow the riders to pass through. There was a double pit on-site on the gravel with a sand obstacle on the corner on the exit from the pits. There was also a “spiral of doom” on the grass pitch, the first one of these to be used this season. The weather on Saturday was blustery with heavy rain but race day was mostly dry and sunny with just one shower during the day.
Starting off the day’s racing was the small group of Under 6s who started on their own section of the course and completed two laps. Next up were the Under 8s. They had two laps of their course which took in the spiral. Two laps proved to be quite a challenge for this age group. As per all youth categories, the boys started on the first whistle and the girls started on the second whistle a few seconds later. Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) managed to pass all the boys to be the first to take the chequered flag. Sophia Campbell (Phoenix CC) was the second girl with Eabha Connolly (Square Wheels) third. The first of the boys was Logan McAreavey Quilton (Cuchulainn CC) who finished just behind Ruby. The second boy was Noah Mitchell (Square Wheels) with Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) taking third.
The Under 10s also had their own course which was longer than the Under 8s course. Leading from start to finish in this 3 lap race was Daragh Quigley (Foyle CC) who has had a tremendous season winning all the races he has entered. The second was Jack McGahan (Square Wheels) with the third going to Ewan Ewart (Belfast City BMX Club). This is the same podium we have had all season for this race category. In the girls’ race Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) again put on a superb performance to finish first girl, third overall rider across the line. Emily McClintock (Lisburn BMX Club) was second with Eva Woodburn (Ballymena Road Club) third.
The Under 12s had their own course which continued from the Under 10s course, around the back of the tennis courts, and then into the spiral. The Under 12s had 3 laps to complete. Josh McClune (Team Madigan C.C.) crossed the line first at the end of lap one and continued this over the next two laps. Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) finished second with Corran McCourt (VC Glendale) third. Clodagh Quigley (Foyle CC) won the Under 12 girls’ race when she finished ahead of Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club) with Yvaine Parsons (Un-Attached Ulster) taking third place.
After a short break for podium presentations and for course practice, the next set of riders lined up at the start line. On the first whistle went the Under 16 boys, then the Under 14 boys, the Women, Under 16 girls then Under 14 girls. In the Under 14 boys race Curtis McKee (VC Glendale) took another, this after finishing 4th out of 49 at Falkirk race in Scotland the day before. Caleb McGreevy (Apollo Cycling Team) was second in the Under 14 boys with James Armstrong (Dromara Cycling Club) third. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) took another win in the Under 14 girls when she finished ahead of Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) and Cara Suckling (VC Glendale). The Under 16 boys’ podium was dominated by one club, Shelbourne/Orchard CC, with Seth Dunwoody on the top step, Samuel Coleman second, and Daniel Scott third. There were only two entries in the Under 16 girls’ race with Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) taking a comfortable win over Lucy Brown (Phoenix CC). In the women’s race Judith Russell (Phoenix CC) made this two out of two race wins in the series. Sasha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) finished second with Caroline Martinez (Chain Reaction Cycles) third. The crank on Helen McParland’s bike (Phoenix CC) fell off as she crossed the line on the third lap and she had to run to the pits to change her bike. Helen finished in fourth place with Ellie McArdle (Square Wheels) taking fifth.
At 1 pm the Men’s Cyclo-cross A’ race took place. Before the race began there was a moment’s silence in respect of Carole Blair, wife of Alan Blair, a long-time club member whose business, Blair International Transport, sponsors the host club. After respects were made it was back to the racing. The riders faced 7 laps in total. From the first lap, there were three riders in a group on their own. Alan Bingham (Newry Wheelers CC), Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles), and Darragh McCarter (Spellman-Dublin Port). In the end these three had stretched out a 5-minute gap to the chasing riders. All eyes were on these three with Darnell Moore taking the win, Alan Bingham second and Darragh McCarter third. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) finished fourth and took the first unplaced M40 prize. Jason Henry (Inspired Cycling) was fifth and took the unplaced M50 prize. Jamie Moss (Ballymoney CC) took the unplaced Junior prize. There were enough teams at this round to have a team prize. This went to Newry Wheelers when Alan Bingham, Barry Convery, and Des Woods crossed the line.
The final race of the day was the Men’s B’s race. This was held over 6 laps. There was a great battle at the front of this race between Barry Russell (Carn Wheelers), who was on a cyclocross bike vs Dean Burnside (Island Wheelers) who was on a mountain bike. Barry was leading over the first 5 laps but Dean took the win. David McKee (VC Glendale) finished third with Jonathan Dooey (Dunloy CC) fourth and Edward Kearney (Phoenix CC) fifth.
Many thanks to all the volunteers from Ballymena Road Club for hosting this event. Many thanks to the sponsors for supporting the event. There was a big turnout of club members to help manage the race, a coffee outlet on-site for refreshments with race commentary supplied by Dany Blondeel of the Belgium Project. We can now look forward to Round 3 which will be hosted by Apollo Cycling Team at the James Wilson site in Portadown – Cyclo-cross NI. See www.ulstercyclocross.com for details. Results here https://ulstercyclocross.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Ulster_Cyclo_cross_2021_Round_2_Ballymena_Results.htm
Commissaires: Jim Adams and Martin Grimley, Report by Martin Grimley with thanks