Sunday 8 August 2010

Dromara Cycling Club hosted their annual Hilly Leisure Tours on Sunday 8 August 2010 starting and ending at the Dromara Village Football Club.  As per previous years the club had set out four different distances to cater for the full range of cyclist; the 'Hilly 60km", the "Hilly 85km", the "Hilly 125" and then the "Mourne Sportive".  Using the same route as the "Hilly 60" the club has been promoting the "Junior Hilly Tour" which is an escorted leisure ride for cyclists aged 12-17 lead by senior members of the club and by the Downey family from Banbridge Cycling Club.

All distances shared the same tea stop at Fontenoys GAA grounds in Leitrim where the large marquee, which had been put up for the Leitrim Festival, proved ideal to house lots of hungry cyclists.  Representatives from the Leitrim club were on hand to ensure that we had everything we needed.  The club also wish to thank Kerry Foods for their kind donation of Freshways sandwiches which were well received. After the riders had rested, chatted and refuelled it was back on to the road and back to the hills.

The club had organised a pre-entry for all four distances and approximately 100 had pre-registered, however, the early morning good weather soon helped to attract lots more cyclists to the event.  In total 250 riders had come to enjoy the 'lumpy' terrain around Dromara.

The Mourne Sportive was a pre-entry only event and only for the very strong riders as it took in approximately 169 km of very hilly terrain around County Down including the infamous climbs of Coyle's Hill, Spelga, Windy Gap and Dree Hill.  Just 30 riders had signed up to the challenge this year, some for their first time, among them Ulster rugby star Paddy Johns, while  others were seasoned Sportive riders who chatted about their experiences of past years.  The Mourne Sportive riders had a second tea break at Meelmore Lodge which was needed as the riders had started at 8 am and were on the bike for between 6 and 9 hours.  Meelmore Lodge had laid an excellent spread of food including some freshly made cheesecake which one rider commented was "worth the distance to get there".

The "Hilly 125" attracted the biggest number of participants, with 120 signed up in total, but a few had decided against completing the full 125km and choose the easier route home from the tea stop to complete the 85km distance.  The Windy Gap probably had a lot to do with their decision.

The "Hilly 85" has seen steady growth in numbers with 61 signed up, up from 42 riders last year.  This could have been a combination of those who had tried the "Hilly 60" last year and wanted to take on a new challenge and those who had taken on the "Hilly 125" the previous year and decided not to punish themselves so much this year.

The "Hilly 60" is still an excellent introduction to the area for many riders and it was great to see so many young riders taking on the Junior Tour.  As one spectator commented "they are the future of the sport, so it's great to see them out enjoying themselves".

When the riders had returned to the Dromara Village Football Club they received a commemorative gift and a food voucher for the Bayside Catch food van.  Many thanks to all the riders for coming along and supporting the club.  We do hope you enjoyed yourselves and hope to see you all again next year.

The club wish to thank:
  • Dromara Village Football Club
  • Leitrim GAA club
  • Meelmore Lodge
  • Bayside Catch, for the grub afterwards
  • Kerry foods, for the excellent Freshways sandwiches
  • Ghostriders for the motorcycle outriders

Club members and supporters who helped on the day:
  • Sign on: Laurene Phillips, Andrew Wilson, Sonia McLoughlin, Brendan & Bernie Monaghan
  • The 'route markers'
  • Gary Gray for opening up the football club house
  • Michael Pyper & Derek Hanna for organising the supply of sponsored food
  • Angela and Brendan for manning the Leitrim tea stop
  • Neill Currie for the keyrings, medal inserts, signs etc

Report and pictures by Martin Grimley

Heading off

At the tea stop - Leitrim GAA club

Back to base - Dromara Village Football Club

More photos on FlickR here

Click here to view a list of the riders who completed took part in the Hilly events
Click here to view a list of the riders who took on the challenge of the Mourne Sportive

Any amendments please email Martin

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