Round 2 of the Ulster Cyclo-cross Series was originally scheduled to be held at Florida Manor in Killinchy and hosted by Killinchy Cycling Club. Upon a course inspection it was found that the land that was going to be used had been deeply rutted by tractor tyres during the wet summer. As the ruts criss-crossed the field there was nowhere safe to design a course. A call was made to the cycling community to see if any club could step in to save the round. James Wilson had offered his purpose build site at CyclocrossNI in Portadown. Thankfully Velo Cafe Magasin put their hand up to say they would support the series and host the event. A great save. Adding to this positive karma was a spell of dry, warm weather over the weekend. The race was held on Sunday 8 October 2023 and the temperature felt more like a nice summer’s day. The sky was overcast but the temperature was over 20 degrees with very light winds. The course was in great condition. Thanks to all the work James has been doing to the site. The entry numbers were just over 150 with the Lakelander Gravel Grinder event on the Saturday the potential cause of the lower than usual turn out. There were, however, several competitors who had completed the Grinder and still turned up on Sunday to race cyclo-cross. Hardcore riders!!

The first race of the day was for the Under 6s who had two laps of a mini course near the start/finish. The 11 young riders were cheered on by the spectators and got a goodie bag at the end for their efforts.

The Under 8s course took them up towards the hill to the sandpit, which they went through, took a sharp left turn and then came back down the hill. They had 3 laps to complete. Daithi Hughes (Square Wheels) was the first boy across the line. The first girl was Ríonach Campbell (Square Wheels) who was just behind Daithi. Completing the boys’ podium was James Kavanagh (Lakeland) and Séan McGahan (Square Wheels) who finished second and third respectively. Completing the girls’ podidum was Katie Rose Taylor (Carn Wheelers) and Sally Mowbray (Belfast City BMX Club) who took silver and bronze medals respectively.

The Under 10s course took them up to the sand hill at the top of the course but they avoided the hill obstacle and went to the dual slalom downhill section back to the finish. They had 3 laps to complete. Lewis Bell (Lisburn BMX Club) put on a powerful performance, staying out of the saddle for the whole race to take the win!! Leo Gallagher (Shelbourne/Orchard CC) finished second with Conor McGahan (Square Wheels) third. Ruby Millar (Square Wheels) was the first of the girls. Eabha Connolly (Square Wheels) finished second with Sophia Campbell (Phoenix CC) picking up third place.

The Under 12s had a similar course to the Under 10s but they had to conquer the sand hill. They had 4 laps to complete. Despite starting behind the boys, Aoife Campbell (Square Wheels) managed to pass all of the boys and finish over a minute ahead of the first boy, William Sunderland (Lisburn BMX Club). William was joined on the podium by Ewan Ewart (Belfast City BMX Club) and Jack McGahan (Square Wheels), who finished second and third respectively, with Billy Lord (Breffni Wheelers) just missing out on the podium to finish fourth. Joining Aoife on the podium was Amelia Finnegan (Square Wheels) who finished second and Erin Corey (Apollo Cycling Team) who finished third.

After a break for podium presentations and course practice it was the turn of the Under 14s, Under 16s and Women to race. All were using the full course.

In the Under 14 boys’ race Eunan Campbell (Square Wheels) lead from start to finish. Corran McCourt (VC Glendale) finished second with Kealan Doherty (Foyle CC) moving up to third place when Olly Millar (Square Wheels) dropped out after 3 laps. There were only two entries in the Under 14 girls’ race with Ava Baker (Breffni Wheelers) finishing ahead of Skye Spence (Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club).

With Curtis McKee over in the mainland racing Caleb McGreevy (VC Glendale) had a comfortable win in the Under 16 boys’ race. Riley Smith (Banbridge CC) finished second with Elliott McKeegan (Team Madigan C.C.) picking up third place. Emer Heverin (Kinning Cycles Cycling Club) put in another strong performance in the Under 16 girls’ race to take the win. Aisha Gannon (Breffni Wheelers) finished second with Maeve McCool (Square Wheels) third.

There were only four entries in the Women’s race this round. Darcey Harkness (VC Glendale) finished well clear of Elena Wallace (Harps CC) over the 5 laps. This second place for Elena has moved her to the top of the series table. Trudy Brown (VC Glendale) finished third with Carly Connolly (Square Wheels) fourth and picking up the first unplaced Master’s prize.

Next up was the A race and they had 8 laps to complete. Jamie Meehan (Spellman-Dublin Port) made his first appearance of the season at a cyclo-cross race and lead from start to finish. Travis Harkness (Scott Bright Motor Group) finished second which puts him at the top of the series table. Darnell Moore (Team Caldwell Cycles) was third with Oisin Ferrity (Team Caldwell Cycles) fourth. Cameron Henry (Inspired Cycling) finished fifth and picked up the first unplaced Junior prize. Curtis Neill (Team Caldwell Cycles) was sixth. Darnell, Oisin and Curtis picked up the team prize. Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) picked up the first unplaced M40 prize, Declan McEntee (Emyvale CC) the first unplaced M50 prize and Fred Macsorley (Apollo Cycling Team) the first M60 prize. (Photo below)

The final race of the day was for the Cyclo-cross B race and mountain bike support race. The lead had been changing between Mark McGrady and Christopher Donald (Spellman-Dublin Port) during the 5 lap race and it all came down to a sprint finish between the riders with Mark crossing the line ahead of Christopher. Darren McCann (Dromara Cycling Club) picked up third place. All three and now obliged to race in the A race for the remainder of the season. Aidan Reihill (Lakeland) was fourth with Niall James Murphy (Lakeland) picking up fifth which moved him to the top of the series table.

In the mountain bike support race Gavin Thompson (Un-Attached Ulster) was on a mission to catch as many cyclo-cross riders as he could. He did manage to finish as fourth rider overall, first mountain bike rider. Campbell Armstrong (Apollo Cycling Team) was second with Calum McMonagle (Foyle CC) third and Enda McDaid (Apollo Cycling Team) fourth.

Thanks to Joe Henry and all the volunteers from Velo Cafe Magasin for hosting this round. Thanks to James Wilson (photo below) for the use of the site and to the event sponsors.

Round 3 will be held on Sunday 5 November in County Cavan by Breffni Wheelers. In the meantime, the UCI C2 race will be held in Clonmel over the weekend of 14/15 October (entries close on Sunday 8 October at 11 pm). This will double up as Round 2 of the National Cyclo-cross Series. On 22 October we have Round 3 of the National Cyclo-cross series which is being held in Westport by Westport Covey Wheelers.
Commissaires: Jim Adams and Martin Grimley

Race results here:

Overall series results here: Results and very detailed report courtesy of Martin Grimley, with thanks!
Photos Dany B, and podium photos Jerome Mc Namara (Belgian Project Media Team)
More photos can be found on Here below a few selected to describe the family atmosphere of such local events!!