Ulster Cycling News

Dry trails at Garvagh Forest MTB race

Garvagh Forest, located in the centre of the town of Garvagh, was the location for Round 5 of the Irish Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Point Series (NPS), hosted by Carn Wheelers. This round also doubled up as Round 4 of the regional Ulster Cross-country (XC) series. The club had ran the Irish National Championships at this venue in 2013 and had put on the same set up for this round with car parking in the old school grounds and start/finish on the main fire road. The course itself was largely the same with some new sections added that the course designers had been working on since the championships. Complemented as well by the recent good weather, this made for a great riding circuit for riders of all ages.

Racing got underway at 10:30 with the Under 6s fun race. Their short circuit was kept close to the forest entrance with plenty of spectators watching the 9 riders. The three winners got up on the podium but all of these riders got a medal for taking part. At 10:45 the start of the more serious races began with the Under 8s. A much reduced field of riders for this round with just 4 boys and 4 girls taking part. They had 3 laps to complete and it was Reuban Maitland who took the win for the boys, making for a clean sweep of wins in all 4 rounds of the Ulster XC series. Aine Doherty (VC Glendale) continued her dominance of this age category this time even managing to pass all the boys to finish first overall. At 11:00 the Under 10s lined up for their 5 laps of the same circuit as the Under 8s used. There were 13 boys and 2 girls at the start line, with the girls starting just a few seconds behind the boys. Brendan Conroy (Epic MTB) has won all of the NPS rounds so far and Round 5 was no different. A strong performance by Brendan. Eva Gordon from the host club took the win for the girls from Sarah Wilson (Island Wheelers). The Under 12s had their own circuit which took them away from the start/finish area towards the main adult course. They had 2 laps to complete with Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) finishing 6 seconds ahead of Ben Wilson (Dromara CC). Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone) made it 4 wins out of 4 Ulster rounds.

At noon the Under 14s, 16s, Senior 4 men and Senior 3 women lined up. The Under 16s went off first with the 10 boys and 2 girls completing two laps of the main course. David Conroy (Donnybrook Landscapes) and Cameron McIntyre (Banbridge CC) were neck and neck for this race with David just keeping ahead of Cameron on the sprint finish even when David pulled a cheeky wheelie as he crossed the line. Shannon Buller (Banbridge) finished ahead of Niamh Skelly (Carn Wheelers).

The Senior 4 men had 27 riders in rows of 4 abreast as they set off 2 minutes behind the Under 16s for the same number of laps. There were two Senior 3 women in the race. Aaron Parks (Shelbourne Motors) took the win with Kieran Gilligan (Island Wheelers) second and Paul Taylor from the host club completing the podium. In the Senior 3 women's race, Janice Hepburn (Island Wheelers) finished ahead of Ciara Dunne (Racing 795).

The Under 14s set off two minutes behind the Senior 3 women. They had to complete 2 laps of a shortened version of the main adult course. Xmtb McConvey Cycle riders took the top 5 places with Craig McCarthy taking the win ahead of Ethan Creighton who finished just ahead of his twin brother Thomas. Emma Elder from the host club took the win in the girls race.

At 2pm the remaining races got underway. First up were the Senior 1 men. These 13 riders had to complete 5 laps of the main course. Behind them were the 6 juniors who had to complete 4 laps, as had the Senior 1 women and the Senior 2 men (21 riders). The Senior 3 men's race had the biggest field of riders (35) and they had to complete 3 laps of the circuit.

In the Senior 1 race Matthew Adair, in his usual style, attacked from the whistle setting off at a blistering pace. The other riders would normally not try to keep up with Matthew prefering to ride steadier and catch Matthew as he started to fade later on in the race. However, at Garvagh Matthew was on top form with no interest in being caught and remained in the lead for all 5 laps. Gareth McKee was Matthew's main chaser until the final lap when Sean Prendiville got ahead of Gareth to take second spot. In the Senior 1 women's race Ciara MacManus was in great form after the European Marathon Championships last weekend and kept well ahead of nearest rival Claire Oakley to finish 10 minutes ahead of Claire. Claire had bettered Ciara in the previous round at Lady Dixon Park.

In the Juniors race James Curry (Banbridge CC) dominated the 4 lap race keeping well ahead of second place Daniel Brickenden (Epic MTB). Patrick Michel (Team WORC) would have normally been up among the leaders but suffered mechanical problems thoughout the race.

Colm McGarvey (Epic MTB) lead from start to finish in the Senior 2 race with a great battle for second place happening behind him. Clive Caldwell (Caldwell Cycles) made his way up from 6th to almost catch Colm on the final sprint to the line. Cuchulainn CC riders Gary Shiels and Johnny McCabe finished 3rd and 4th respectively.

In the 3 lap Senior 3 mens race, Chris Campbell (Epic MTB) took to the front by lap 2 and stayed there. The top 3 were well spread out with Raymond Kerr (Lakeland) finished almost a minute behind Chris and Sean Scullion (Island Wheelers) finishing third around a minute behind Raymond.

After the races the riders were able to tuck into a great spread of sandwiches and buns. Many thanks to Carn Wheelers for the hospitality and the event organisation. The club wish to thank the Northern Ireland Forestry Service for the use of the forest. Round 6 of the NPS will take place on 6 July at Bellurgan Park hosted by Cuchulainn CC.

Results here

J Wilson and D Creighton (FlickR) here
Richard Cowan (FlickR) here

Report by Martin Grimley
Posted by Martin Grimley (martin@ulsterxc.com)

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