Ulster Cycling News

Muddy conditions at Tollymore for Round 2 of the Ulster XC MTB Series

The second round of the Ulster Cross-Country Mountain Bike Series 2011 took place at Tollymore Forest Park on Sunday 15 May 2011 hosted by Banbridge Cycling Club. This event was also the fourth of seven rounds of the Irish National Point Series (NPS) which meant a larger attendance of riders from across Ireland with over 200 pre-registered to compete across all categories from the Under 8s to the seniors. The park offers great facilities for day visitors and campers with the event field close to toilet and shower facilities and a tap which allowed for a bike wash, much in use today.

Towards the end of the week the weather conditions had deteriorated with heavy rain and wind affecting the course on the Saturday day and especially during the night. There was still some light drizzle around on the morning of the event and the wet weather may have been the reason for some of the riders not coming along. The day itself was dry for the most part and there was a good atmosphere around the sign on area. A huge amount of work had been done by the course builders lead by William Mulligan. There were a lot of improvements to the course used last September for the Ulster Championships. These included a long start area in the main field to help spread out the riders before they disappeared into the trees. The course still used both sides of the Ivy Bridge with challenging loops on both sides, three climbs and the very popular bomb hole. Among the trees the course was very muddy making for a real challenge for the riders to keep their balance and find the best line through the mud.

At 11 am the racing started with a good showing of 26 young riders (including 5 girls) in the Under 8s category. They had to complete two laps of their short course which involved a slight climb up to the timekeepers then into some slippery single track through the trees. The dips that were causing some issues last year had been filled up with gravel and the young riders now seemed to cope well with these, it was the mud everywhere else that held them up. Course designer William Mulligan was manning the crucial junction on the course to point the riders back towards the main field rather than around the rest of the 3 mile course! The return to the field had another slippery climb where the order of the day was to get off and push but these hardy riders coped well and were glad to get back into the field so they could enjoy the fast, twisting, grass downhill back to where their start line was before the final push up the hill to the finish line. Crossing the line first, in fact lapping a couple of riders, was Christopher Curry (Banbridge) who continues to dominate his age category. Just behind Christopher was Donnacha Desmond (MBCC) with David McGarr in third with Shea O'Kane (Phoenix) having a great sprint with Fionn Desmond (MBCC) to take 4th by only half a wheel. Adam McCaughtry and Fraser Harrower, both from Dromara CC and Ryan Stewart (Phoenix) had their own close battle to the line with Adam taking 6th spot, Fraser 7th and Ryan 8th. Scott Roberts was 9th just ahead of the first girl Aishling Dalton. Second girl was Charley Dunlop (Banbridge CC) with Eva Gordon (Carlow RCC)

At 11:15 the next line up of riders were gridded by Maurice Mayne and put under starters orders. The 19 Under 10s had 3 laps of the short course to complete. There was a bit of bunching going on before the whistle was blown and within just a few feet there was a pile up on the grass with Cathal Doyle (Carn Wheelers) and Kelly Wilson (Dromara CC) coming out the worse. When the bikes were untangled the first aiders gave them a quick examination. Cathal was determined to do his race and he charged off well behind the others to complete his race. Poor Kelly was just too battered and bruised to feel like getting back on her bike. Coming first out of the trees was Mark Buller (Banbridge CC) who had opened up a gap on Drew Armstrong (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) with Adam McGarr in third and Andrew Gordon (Carn Wheelers) in fourth. These positions did not change for the remainder of the race. Finishing 5th was Ross Ennis (Epic MTB) with Callum Stewart (Phoenix) in 6th. First girl was Niamh McKiverigan (Banbridge) who was 10th on the day with Sarah Elder (Carn Wheelers) second girl and Emma Dalton third.

There were 12 riders in the Under 12s race which got away around 11:40. They had the same course as the Under 8s and 10s but had 4 laps to complete. Jamie Grifferty (Boyne MTB) repeated his success from the Davagh forest race by finishing well clear of John Buller from the host club. Craig McCarthy (Xmtb McConvey cycles) was third, ahead of Stuart Dunlop (host club), Max Melville (Dromara CC) was 5th with Max Anderson (Shelbourne Motors / Orchard Wheelers) finishing 6th, the final rider to complete all 4 laps. First girl was Kathryn Doyle (Carn Wheelers) who was followed by Rebekah Ogilby (Xmtb McConvey cycles) and Emma Elder (Carn Wheelers).

At noon the Under 16s, Senior 4 men, Senior 3 women and Under 14s gathered up along the fence in the main field. The Under 16s had 7 lined up with some notable absentees as the Northern Ireland Road Championships were being held on the same day. The 7, including one female Marlena Drozdriok, had to complete 2 laps of the main course. They were set off first ahead of the first big group of riders on the day, the Senior 4 men. There were 35 in this group with the first 2 rows gridded. They also had to complete 2 laps of the 3 mile course. Behind the Senior 4 men was a line of 5 for the Senior 3 women's race, also 2 laps. Behind the women was the line up for the Under 14s race. This group of 13 riders had to complete 2 laps of the reduced course which incorporated most of the main course with just one junction where the marshal directed them in a different direction to all the other riders.

In the Under 14s race Conor Lavelle (MAD Mtb) lead from the start finishing 30 seconds ahead of another Conor, Conor Kavanagh (Boyne MTB). Joseph Baird was third ahead of James Curry both from the host club. James and Alistair Baron had exhanged positions after lap one with Alistair having to settle for 5th. There were only two girls in the race, both from the host club and it was Shannon Buller who finished two places ahead of Sheena McKiverigan.

In the Under 16s race Rob Deegan (Epic MTB) had a great start and was over 30 seconds clear of David Montgomery from the host club and Chris Oakley (Xmtb McConvey cycles) at the end of the first lap. Rob's race came to an early end when he suffered a mechanical and had to retire. David and Chris were only one second apart after the first lap but David managed to stretch this to 20 seconds by race end to take the win. Aaron McCann (Cuchulainn) was third with Daniel Runciman from the host club in fourth.

The Senior 4 mens race was lead from the start by Ryan Walsh from Carn Wheelers. Just behind Ryan was Stephen Kelly (Dromara CC) who finished second in only his second mountain bike race. Stephen Law and Patrick Kelly, both from Carn Wheelers, took 3rd and 4th respectively after a close race between them with only 10 seconds separating them at the end. Fifth was Gavin Treanor with Ronan Hopkins in sixth.

In the Senior 3 women's race Dianne Keys really enjoyed the slippery conditions to finish over 2½ minutes ahead of closest rival Kerryann Hughes (Harps CC) with the winner at the last round in Davagh, Caroline Murphy (Epic MTB) finishing third. Claire Breslin (MAD Mtb) was second at Davagh and fourth at Tollymore with Roisin Hughes enjoying her second mountain bike race.

At 1:20 pm the riders were called to line up for the remaining races. The first group had 13 riders in the Senior 1 men race who had 5 laps to complete and they were starting on the same whistle as the 3 junior riders who had 4 laps to complete and who were in a line at the back of the S1 men. Behind the juniors were the two Senior 1 women who started a minute behind for their 4 laps but a minute ahead of the Senior 2 men who also had 4 laps to complete. The Senior 3 men was the biggest group on the day with 50 riders gathered from across Ireland. They had to complete 3 laps as had the Senior 2 women who were in a line behind the men.

At 1:30 the Senior 1 men and juniors were started. Matthew Adair (Junior) saw a gap along the side of the Senior 1 men and nipped up past the bulk of the riders to be in second place going into the trees. An outstanding move that left the other junior competitors well behind. Matthew powered through his first lap appearing first back out of the trees at the end of lap 1, just over 50 seconds ahead of the first S1 rider Peter Buggle (Rocky Mountain). Peter dominated the S1 race leading from start to finish but positions 2nd to 6th changed over throughout the race. Gareth McKee from the local club fought over second place with Joe McCall (Focus MTB) through laps 1 to 3 but held second to the finish line. Aiden McDonald (Cuchulainn) made his way up from sixth to third, Joe dropped to fourth with Oisin Boydell (Thinkbike.ie) moving up from seventh to fifth. Matt Slattery (Killarney CC) was lying 8th in laps 1 to 3 before making his way up to sixth.

In the Senior 1 women race Ciara MacManus led Cait Elliott (WXC) at the end of lap 1 but Cait put in a sub-20 minute second lap to close up on Ciara and had taken the lead by lap 3. Cait continued to stretch away from Ciara and finished 1½ ahead at the end of the four laps.

Simon Curry from the host club was first at the end of lap one in the Senior 2 mens race but had John Pennefather (Focus MTB) closing in and by the end of lap 2 John was in the lead and he stretched away from Simon over lap 3 and 4 to finish almost 3 minutes ahead. Third was Michael Dardis (Epic MTB) finishing just 3 seconds ahead of Stephen Scrivener who had come up from 9th place. Fifth was Johnny McCabe (Cuchulainn) with Paul Coyne (Team WORC) sixth just 2 seconds ahead of Gene Ryan (MAD Mtb). Brendan Doherty (VC Glendale) was 8th just 5 seconds ahead of Lance McCarthy (Xmtb McConvey cycles). Behind them was another close battle between fellow EPIC club mates Colm McGarvey and Oscar MacAnaney with Colm just 2 seconds ahead of Oscar on the line.

Ronan Corrigan (Xmtb McConvey cycles) and Terry McDonagh (Epic MTB) were having a close battle in the Senior 3 men's race with Terry leading after lap 1 and Ronan after lap 2 but unfortunately for Ronan he ripped a tyre and had to quit the race. Terry had to push on for the win as Bob Talbot (Harps CC) was just seconds behind him. David Neill (Shelbourne Motors / Orchard Wheelers) was third just 2 seconds ahead of Greg Cahill who made his way up from 10th place to 4th. Daire McCaughley (Cuchulainn) was 5th with Cathal Doyle (Carn Wheelers) 6th, Phil McDonagh (MAD Mtb) 7th, with Barry Kellett (Dromara CC) improving from 13th to 8th just ahead of Nigel Glynn (Thinkbike.ie) who was in turn just ahead of David Blevins (Harps CC).

In the Senior 2 women's race Rose Griffen (IMBRC) had a lead of over one minute ahead of Gill Smith after lap 1 but Rose had to retire from the race leaving Gill as leader after lap 2 but Orla McClean (Epic MTB) came through on lap 3 to take the win away from Gill. Agata Tamulewicz (MAD Mtb) was third ahead of Julie Rea (ChainReaction Cycles).

A big thank you to the hard working team at Banbridge CC who did a superb job of designing and running an excellent race. The next round will be held on Sunday 29 May 2011 at Lady Dixon Park in Belfast hosted by Xmtb McConvey cycles. Pre-registration is now open. For more details see

Commissaire: Martin Grimley

Full results here

Report and photographs: Martin Grimley
More photographs here

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