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Cyclocross Season In Full Swing

posted 8 Oct 2018, 12:27 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 8 Oct 2018, 12:27 ]
(Shay O'Toole/Peter Rimmer - Sun. 7th October 2018)   
As the road racing and sportive season draws to a close after a very busy year, the members of Lakeside Wheelers are still extremely active.  While some members may be thinking of hanging up the wheels for a rest over the autumn/winter months, others are making the transition from the road to the fields and forests of the cyclocross arenas. The following reports were sent in by club stalwart Peter Rimmer who is just one of the few members who ride the road, MTB and cyclocross.

Cyclocross Part 1:
Sunday 16th September saw the opening round of Ulster Cycling’s cyclocross series in Lurgan Park, hosted by the Apollo Cycling Team. If you read the last cyclocross race report from 1st September, you at least know what cyclocross is. Cyclocross races last about an hour and, like criterium racing on the road, are time based rather than a set distance. However, unlike criteriums, there isn’t a tight bunch of riders going around the circuit. Riders tend to have different strengths and weaknesses, so folks will be faster on one section of the circuit and slower on another. The differences in rider’s abilities leads to a constant ebb and flow in the race which makes the cross racing great for spectators and enjoyable for competitors.
The long straights in the Lurgan Park circuit, combined with the recent dry weather, made this race ideal for strong riders. Flying the flag for Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar were Joanna Bula, Richie Lenehan, and Peter Rimmer. Once all the kid’s races where done and dusted the girls lined up for the first of the races on the main circuit. Joanna had great race, at the beginning of the second lap she was sitting in second place but a few laps later she crashed on a tricky chicane conceding one position, so she finished on the third step of the podium behind Fran Meehan and Rachel Irvine. 

Next up were the boys in the A race. The start was not gridded as it was the first race of these series so it was a 30-man wide by two-man deep field of riders which shot off across the grass field which funnelled into the main circuit. Notable by his absence at the race start was Richie who it appears was chatting to one of the spectators, so as the wave of riders passed him he joined the back of the race! Peter also took his time to get into the race, guess some start practice and review of the warm up strategy might be required. Anyway, as the race unfolded the guys managed to pick off a few riders and improve their standing in the race. That's one of the joys of cyclocross as there are races going on throughout the whole field. Guys are continuously putting in efforts to overtake the guy ahead or running a little bit wide on a corner to prevent being passed. So, you might not be in contention for a podium position but you’re still well and truly in the race. Up at the front end there was a battle between Darnell Moore and Glenn Kinning for first place, Darnell was coming off the back of a very impressive road season which saw him take 3rd place in the National Criterium Championships hosted in Mullingar by Lakeside Wheelers. He recorded several other notable results during the summer and the power which aided these results paid dividends as he took the top spot with Glenn taking second and Angus Fyffee completing the podium. Richie finished 30th however he pointed out to the officials that he’d missed the start, so his position didn’t count. While Peter finished in 50th a respectable finishing position and more importantly great fun.

Richie Lenihan and Peter Rimmer warming up for Necarne Castle cyclocross.
Richie Lenihan and Peter Rimmer warming up for Necarne Castle cyclocross.

Part 2:
The Autumnal Equinox (23rd Sep) was the day for the second round of the Ulster cyclocross hosted by Lakeland Cycling Club.  The race was held at the beautiful Necarne Estate which lies in the County Fermanagh town of Irvinestown. The abandoned 16th century castle created a stunning back drop for the finish line and the rest of the circuit wound its way round the castles grounds. The weather on the day was fine with blue skies and only passing showers however, there had been overnight rain which made for a very slippery surface. The Lakeland cycling club had created a relatively long circuit which took the fastest guys just over eight minutes to complete. That’s around 60 seconds longer than a typical circuit lap time which meant fewer laps, of course, as the normal race time of around 50 minutes still applied. The circuit included some interesting features including a couple of steep drops to test rider’s nerves, a sand pit to ride through which is a real test of the riders ability to power the bike along while letting the sand push the front wheel around, a long climb up an energy sapping boggy surface followed by a descent over muddy ground which made the bike squirm for grip and finally, an off camber descent to a very steep climb back up to the main path that only the most skilled and powerful riders managed to ride. Others were forced to revert to running with the bike on their shoulders.

The CX Women had five laps to complete in the first race of the day on the senior circuit.  Leading after lap 1 was Rachel Irvine (The Bike House CC) but a heavy crash on lap 2 finished her race.  Francine Meehan (Kinning Cycles) took over the lead which she held to the finish.  Niamh Stephens (TC Racing) finished second with Joanna Bula (Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar CC) third. 

This was followed by the men’s A race which was held over six laps.  As per Round 1 in Lurgan Park, Darnell Moore (Caldwell Cycles Omagh), the current national champion, powered away from his nearest rival, Glenn Kinning (Kinning Cycles) to take the win.  Angus Fyffe (Caldwell Cycles Omagh) took another third place with Barry Kellett (Dromara Cycling Club) fourth and Sean Nolan (Navan Road Club) 5th and first unplaced junior. The two Wheelers in the race were Richie Lenahan and Peter Rimmer who finished 14th and 37th respectively. 

Richie was one of the few who could ride the whole lap which helped him get into, and stay in the top 15. Richie wasn’t gridded on the start as he missed the start last week in Lurgan, so his finishing position didn’t count. No hick-ups for the Wheelers this week though. Although Peter did have a puncture 15 minutes before the start while doing his warm up there was a spare wheel in the van ready to go so it was a quick swap and back on the bike ready to go. On the return home the wheelers visited a café in Enniskillen and had soup and sandwiches, all in all it was a great way to celibate the Equinox.

If folks are interested in trying out cyclocross then Outdoor Escape normally have a spin during the week so just ask Steve in there. Plus, there are races coming up that aren’t too far away. Oldcastle CC are running a series of Sunday races on; 21st Oct, 4th Nov, 18th Nov and 9th Dec at Drewstown House, Kells, Co.Meath, which is just 30 minutes from Mullingar. The races start at 11:30 with practice on the circuit from 10am to 10:45am. Folks can race on CX or MTB bikes, all you need is a Club Competition licence, but a day licence is available. The main emphasis is fun, so it’s a great introduction to cyclocross. Navan CC have their “CX in the Park” race at Blackwater Park, Navan on Sun 14th.Oct. This will include underage races from 10am, followed by the lady’s race at 11am and the men’s A-races at 12:15pm and B-race at 1:45pm. If you fancy watching the professionals strut their stuff on a cyclocross circuit there will be a UCI C2 ranked event held in Belfast on the 7th Oct at Mallusk Playing Fields, racing is from 10:15am with the main event at 2:45pm.

Joanna Bula at the Lurgan Park cyclocross in September..
Joanna Bula at the Lurgan Park cyclocross in September.