Ulster Cycling News

A wet day at Colebrooke for the Ulster XC MTB Championships

On Sunday 23 August 2015 we woke up to heavy rain which had started in the middle of the night and had not let up. Riders still came from near and far to Colebrooke Estate in County Fermanagh for the Ulster Cross-county mountain bike championships. Host club Lakeland CC had spent a lot of time preparing the course in advance of race day and were busy on the morning checking and re-routing sections which had turned from dry, fast sections to wet, muddy bogs. A stream, which was only an inch or two deep on the Saturday was over knee deep on Sunday.

The estate is owned by Lord Brookeborough and has great facilities for off-road driving, hunting, fishing, as well as a spa and accommodation. Sign on took place inside a large shed which had toilet facilities and room to set up the bike skills area as well as catering, all out of the rain.

The youth races were all held up in the forest with the Under 6s getting off first. Their one lap race was muddy but even the strider bike riders got around it. Aoife Craig (VC Glendale) crossed the line first with Jack Nelson (Apollo CT) second and Max Boyd (Apollo CT) third. All Under 6s receive a medal in this 'fun' event.

Next up were the Under 8s who had a longer course than the Under 6s and had to complete 2 laps. Harry Hobbs (VC Glendale) took the win in the boys race with Calum Hepburn (Island Wheelers) second and Conor Murphy (Zero Gravity MTN Bike) third. Aliyah Rafferty (Island Wheelers) was first girl with Aisling Smith (Apollo CT) second and both Harriet Abraham (Trail Demons) and Caitlin Hanna (Apollo CT) third.

The Under 10s had to complete 3 laps of the same course as the Under 8s. Oisin Ferrity (Island Wheelers) took the win ahead of Travis Harkness (Carn Wheelers) with Adam Rafferty (Island Wheelers) third. In the girls race Eimer Skelly (Carn Wheelers) took the win ahead of Clodagh Doherty (VC Glendale) and Keela Smyth (Apollo CT).

The course was extending for the Under 12s with a tricky section added in. Darren Rafferty (Island Wheelers) crossed the line well ahead of club mate Scott Roberts, with Ryan Skelly (Carn Wheelers) third. Katie Neill, also from Carn Wheelers, was first across the line in the girls race with club mate Eva Gordon second and Lauren Hanna (Apollo CT) third.

Racing then moved back down in front of the sign on shed. The riders were lined up along the road for the noon races which saw the Under 16s heading off first ahead of the Under 14s who were followed by the non-championship categories (Senior 4 men and Senior 3 women). Riders took the sweeping left hand turn before heading past the finish line gazebo and off around the course. The course length was longer than usual with the fastest Under 16 rider, John Buller (Banbridge CC) completing his lap in just over 28 minutes and continuing on to take the win. Twins Thomas and Ethan Creighton (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) completed the podium in second and third respectively. Carn Wheelers riders Niamh Skelly and Emma Elder finished first and second respectively.

In the Under 14s race Drew Armstrong (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) finished over 5 minutes clear of Jack Connor (North West MTB) with Andrew Gordon (Carn Wheelers) third and Mark Buller (Banbridge CC) fourth. In the girls race Ellie Kelso (East Tyrone CC) took the win with Sarah Elder (Carn Wheelers) second and Summer McGibbon (Trail Demons) third.

Michael Runciman (Banbridge CC) was first in the Senior 4 race, Andy McGibbon (Trail Demons) was second and Robert Smyth (Apollo CT) third. Janice Hepburn (Island Wheelers) was the only entry in the Senior 3 women's race.

At 2 pm, at the Elite men, Elite women, Under 23 men, Junior males, Junior females and Masters men lined up. First away were the Elite men who had 3 laps to complete with all other categories completing 2 laps. The Masters men were sub-divided into M30, M40 and a combined M50/M60 race (based on 10 year age bands).

Gareth McKee (Banbridge CC) stormed around the course and was never under threat to finish first in the Elite Men's race. Graham Boyd (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) finished second ahead of Barry Kellett (Dromara CC) with Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn CC) the only other finisher in this category.

In the Elite women's race, Claire Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) finished ahead of Lisa Millar (Dromara CC). Shannon Buller (Banbridge CC) was the only female junior entry but she had to pull out of the race. For the Espoir (Under 23) men's race, Chris Oakley (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) crossed the line just over one minute ahead of Nathan Sturrock (Banbridge CC). In the Junior men's race, James Curry (Banbridge CC) finished well clear of Sean Bradley (Carn Wheelers) with Peter Davison (Dromara CC) third.

In the M30 Master's race, Damien Duggan (ChainReaction Cycles) lead from start to finish with Conor Campbell (Newry Wheelers) second and David Vaughan (non Ulster rider) third leaving Thomas Hepburn (Island Wheelers) to take third Ulster rider (fourth overall).

Brian Steele (Shimna Wheelers) took the win in the M40 category as he finished ahead of Clive Caldwell (Caldwell Cycles) with Raymond Kerr (Lakeland CC) third. The M50/M60 category was won by non-Ulster rider Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn CC) with Paul McMenamin (Calwell Cycles) taking the top step, William Mulligan (Banbridge CC) on step 2 and Robert Davison (Dromara CC) on step 3.

Many thanks to Lakeland CC for hosting the event. They had a tray loads of sandwiches afterwards with tea and coffee. Well done to all the riders for taking on the course in the challenging conditions. The next Ulster race will be on Sunday 6 September 2015 at Craigavon lakes for the final round of the Ulster Cross-country MTB Series.


Paul Carron (website) here and (Facebook) here

Report by Martin Grimley

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