Freda blows away competition and holds her own with the Masters

Freda Brown takes first place in the ladies Race for Banbridge CC
Freda Brown takes first place in the ladies Race for Banbridge CC

Freda Brown was the big winer for Banbridge cycling Club last week as she stole the show in the women’s race in Fermanagh.

The historic Portora Royal School overlooking Enniskillen town and Lough Erne was the unusual setting of Race HQ for the premier open race event in the county, the Lakeland Grand Prix.

This meeting was promoted by the local Lakeland CC and each of the three races on offer covered a 45 mile scenic loop taking in the Shore Road almost to Belleek, turning inland and upwards past Lough Navar before returning to the Shore Rd near Ely Lodge for the run back to the finish at Silverhill just outside Enniskillen.

Ian Cochrane and Paul McGuckin were joined by club-mate Freida in the combined Masters 50+ and Ladies race.

It was Freida who stole the show in the hotly contested women’s race when she was one of three ladies who managed to stay with the Masters riders over the infamous five-mile climb to Lough Navar. Frieda’s cadence based training regime certainly enabled her to adjust to the pace on the descent and on the long run in along the Shore Road to the finish where she outlasted the other two ladies in the sprint for the line to take a great win, her first in this year’s Ladies’ Series. Unfortunately, Ian and Paul were unable to contain local favourite Kenny Boylan on the upper reaches of the climb and ended up in a five-man chasing group that broke away from the remainder of the race in a futile effort to chase down the lone escapee.

In the sprint for the minor podium places, Paul took second overall with Ian close behind in fourth. However, any slight disappointment soon evaporated with confirmation that Freida, who bagged sixth place overall, was first lady home and a worthy winner of the Ladies’ Race.

Andy Beattie also made the long journey to Enniskillen. He signed on in the A4 race and managed to stay with the peleton until the climb started to fragment the riders into a number of smaller groups.

Andy was then able to ride strongly to the finish, crossing the line a few minutes after the leaders. Andy is certainly gaining strength and confidence with every outing and can be content with his progress in this first season of open racing.

Mid Ulster Grand Prix

Promoted by Harps CC, this event catered for A1,A2 and A3 categories and took place over seven laps of a tough 7.5 mile circuit just east of Cookstown.

Banbridge CC were represented by two A3 racers, Kevin McAlinden and Dan Purdy in an 80 rider field.

Dan and Kevin have ridden almost all of the open races this season so far and this experience showed in a strong bunch finish by both riders while contributing to the action throughout the race.

South of the Border

A couple of Bann riders also ventured south of the border last weekend for a taste of Leinster A4 competition in the Waller Cup promoted by Bohermeen CC on a course close to Navan.

Adrian Finnegan and Ian Cochrane enjoyed the close racing and managed to finish upright in the main bunch despite some crashes amongst the huge field of starters. This was a real test for Ian who rode a difficult race in Enniskillen the day before, certainly a busy weekend for him.

Off –Road Round-up

Round Two of the Ulster cross-country (XC) mountain bike series took place at Ballykelly Forest near Limavady.

Host club Caldwell Cycles, put on a great event. The course was very similar to the one used last year and all competitors are very thankful to the support from the Forestry Service for the use of the venue.

Racing got under way at 11am with the U12 riding four laps. Banbridge’s Jack Baird road well to take sixth with Christopher Curry eighth and James Buller ninth. In the U12 Girls, Charlie Dunlop raced well to finish a fantastic third.

At noon the U14s, 16s and Senior Four men lined up. The Under 16s set off first, two minutes ahead of the Senior Four men, both groups having to do two laps of the main course.

The Under 14s went off one minute behind the Senior Four men and they had to complete five laps of their own course.

Cameron McIntyre (Banbridge CC) won the Under 16s race at a pace significantly faster than the Senior 4Four men, with John Buller finishing fourth, Richard Baird sixth and Stewart Dunlop seventh. Shannon Buller also from the Banbridge club continued to show her great form, finishing first female rider in the Under 16s race. In the Under 14s Boys,her brother Mark Buller finished eighth.

At 2pm the Senior One, Two and Three riders lined up.

At the front were the Senior One men. Matthew Adair (Xmtb McConvey Cycles) took the early lead but suffered a puncture leaving Banbridge man David Montgomery to show the benefits of training hard as he went on to victory, well clear of Graham Boyd (Xmtb) and Barry Kellett (Dromara CC). Joe Penny (Banbridge CC), in his first season of competitive MTB, finished a creditable sixth.

In the Senior Two, the juniors raced over four laps. James Curry (Banbridge CC) again showed his strength with a great display of racing to finish over six minutes ahead of nearest rival Darnell Moore from the host club. In the Senior Two, club-mate William Mulligan finished fourth.

After the racing, the riders were able to enjoy the great spread of food down at the sign -on tent as the prize giving ceremony took place. Bann CC thanked Caldwell Cycles for putting on a super event.

Round Three of the Ulster XC series will be at Lady Dixon Park on 25 May 2014.