REPORT WRITEN BY MARTIN GRIMLEY
The sun shone at the lakes in Craigavon for the fifth and final round of the Ulster Cross-country Mountain Bike series. This round was hosted by Apollo Cycling Team whose members have been working hard on developing the course and adding in new features not used in previous years. The course takes in a circuit around the lakes starting from the Watersports centre which has a café, separate room for sign on, showers, toilets and bike wash facilities. Beside the car park there is the grassy hill section which has a large stone erected on the top as the focal point and is surrounded by a circular line of trees. This section was used as the start for all the races. It formed the courses for the Under 6s, Under 8s and Under 10s with the Under 12s and all other categories using this section purely as a start loop. The older riders then crossed the pathway, went down a steep dip, up the other side, crossed the entrance road to the park before jumping up onto the pavement and heading over to the other side of the river to take in an off camber bank of grass which headed down to the finish line at the tarmac path.
Racing got underway at 10:30 with the Under 6s which saw twenty young riders, some on striders, take on one lap of the grassy loop. The Under 8s then used the same start line but their 3 lap course which went through the circular ring of trees, took in a U shaped section before heading over the top of the mound and around to the start/finish line. The Under 10s used the perimeter of this grassy section dropping down to the trees to weave in around before heading up the climb over the mound to the start/finish.
The Under 12s course crossed over the road and headed down to the finish line on the tarmac path before then turning sharply right and dropping down to the path beside the river. This is a narrow ledge with no room to overtake and at the end they had to ride / drag their bikes up a steep bank and onto the grass to start another lap.
The Under 14s made use of the main course but sections were taken out to reduce their lap times. The Under 16s and all the seniors used the main course which had many new sections cut in through the trees as well as the fast single track of the trail centre network. A temporary bridge had been included into the course design to take the riders over the river beyond the finish line. This was a tricky bridge to drop down onto and it was left out of the 12:00 races but then included in the 2pm races.
Many thanks to Apollo CT for putting on a great race and to Craigavon Borough Council for facilitating it. A big turn out for this final round. Youth and senior racing continues in October with the cyclo-cross season. The first round will be hosted by Apollo CT at Lurgan Park on Sunday 5 October 2014. See www.ulstercyclocross.com for details.
Commissaire: Martin Grimley