SUCH is the strength of cycling in the Dundalk area that Cuchulainn Cycling Club is now hosting three separate summer cycling leagues.
The FPM Accountants Summer Cycling league is the main event for the road cyclists, while the Mountain Bike League is in its second season. Also launched on Wednesday night for the second year was the Ladies and Beginners league, which kicked off with a five mile time trial.
Ladies and Beginners League
This league is open to women and all newcomers to the sport. Quickest on the night was Eve McCrystal, the only rider to break 12 minutes. Just over 15 seconds back was Celine McPhilips and rounding out the podium was Gerard Smyth. Times from this will be used to calculate groups and handicaps for the upcoming road races as the league continues on Wednesday nights.
Mountain Bike League
In the Mountain Bike league Sandra O’Hagan was yet again first home, with a full 14 seconds to spare over a fast charging John Sharkey and Chris Rodgers.
The recent bad weather made the course very difficult as the accumulation of mud made conditions slippy and slow. Also this was a new route for the league with which the riders were not quite as familiar with.
FPM Accountants League
Finally the FPM Accountants League was run in atrocious conditions on Thursday night, however over 51 riders still signed on.
12 minutes separated the different groups on what is one of the more difficult circuits in the league as the finish is a top the difficult climb at Flagstaff. As the riders headed towards the climb of Flagstaff via Carlingford and Omeath they were greeted with rain and hailstones - all in June!
Group Two had caught up with Group One before the turn for Carlingford and as the riders turned at Davy’s Pub for the long climb to the finish the first four groups were very close, meanwhile behind scratch and super scratch had come together.
The first four groups all came together on the climb but the steepness of the hill meant that riders were scattered all over the road.
First home was Padraic Murphy, followed by under-age rider Aaron McCann and in 3rd place Barry Douglas. Jim McConnon lead home the scratch group riding away from the others on the climb. Alan Bingham and Peter Tomany also picked up points in the scratch competition. All in with the weather and climb it was a tough night’s racing that really tested the riders.
Tour of Louth
Similar bad weather effected last Sunday’s Tour of Louth, however a record crowd attended the event with almost 250 riders signing on.
Four groups took to the rode as riders chased a platinum, gold, silver or bronze time on the 100km route. Only four riders (three from Cuchulainn) made the platinum time of sub three hours for the course. This was a considerable feat given the wind and rain.
A large number made the gold standard including Cuchulainn ladies Breda and Annette Dawe along with Orla McAdam and Ann McConville. The 50km route also went well with a 3rd Dawe lady, Maria, having a great outing, riding along side her daughter Niamh Greene, while husband Ronan rode to a gold time in the main event.
However the biggest smiles of the day were reserved for the kids competing in the 10km event, smiles from ear to ear where the order of the day as the kids proudly displayed their medals afterwards. A 3rd generation of the Dolan family, eight-year-old Faolan Campbell was very excited with his 40 minute time to complete the course.
National Bike Week
Commencing on June 19 is National Bike Week and there is a number of events organised in the town.
The highlight is a 100 mile ride on June 21, the summer solstice. Riders will leave the Crowne Plaza Hotel at night (complete with lights), cycle to the Spire on O’Connell Street and back to the Crowne Plaza for a well earned breakfast.
As well as a number of leisure events the kids racing day will return to St Helena’s Park on Sunday June 26. This is a follow up to the very successful event last year. All children need to enter is a helmet and a bike.