Sunshine and dusty trails greeted all the racers at Tollymore forest park for Round 2 of the Ulster XC series, hosted by Dromara Cycling Club.
A full week of brilliant spring sunshine leading up to the event turned the already quick course into a frighteningly fast experience. Brakes were just for show and stopping at the finish line.
The first race of the day was the hotly contested Under 6 boys and girls.
Aoife Kellett had a great start and rallied round it in 2nd place until a sprint finish to just get the win by a bike length.
Rylee Broome and first time racer, Eva Cowan, coming in not far behind.
Next up was Lexie Broome in the U8 race, with a great performance over a tough technical lap to earn a super 6th place finish.
The U10 race quickly followed, which was held over a slightly longer course again, with some extra technical features to challenge the riders.
Alex Harrower took to the line for the U10 boy’s race and came away with a great 11th place.
Fraser Harrower and Ben Wilson represented the club in the Under 14 course.
Ben had a great battle with Darren Rafferty of Island wheelers from the start whistle right to the end, narrowly missing out on the win but taking a great 2nd place.
Fraser came home in 10th place after putting in a solid ride over two laps of the full adult course.
In the S4 Male race, Graham Smyth showed his recent club league podium was no fluke as he surged into an early lead, with the pace only followed by Ratislav Najdek (Clogher Valley Wheelers).
The two of them battled until Ratislav suffered a puncture on the last lap leaving Graham to surge on ahead and take victory with plenty of time to spare. Welcome to S3 Graham!
Mike Barton finally got the engine ticking over after a cold start to pick riders off one by one and came across the line in 10th place.
Derek Miniss rued his intentional steady start after the race.
Derek was in 36th place when the riders left the start/finish field on lap 1, but still managed to claw through 20 places during the race to take 16th.
In S3 women, adopted Dromara CC rider, Andra Ungureanu, had her first experience of racing on a proper XC bike.
She talked her way to 6th place and proved she could rip the descents on the new bike, despite being more used to her Enduro machine.
A black jersey is worth 30 seconds a lap too, so she will be flying when that gets that sorted out.
With the mornings races over, the focus switched to the last race block of the day as the Senior 1, 2 and 3 men and Senior 1 and 2 women, as well as Junior men and women taking to the start line.
With the course tightly taped and plenty of marshals out, everything was set for Davy Broome to not get lost.
He proved that when he knows where he is going he is unbeatable, taking a superb win in the S3 race by quite a margin.
Brian Wilson continued his recent surge of form to take a fine 3rd place in the biggest race of the day.
The time spent agonising over tyre choice and pressure proved worthwhile in the end.
Richard Cowan was next to finish in 13th place, less than a minute off the coveted top 10 result.
Paul Watson was 15th. Adrian Booth and Gibson Chambers were next to arrive at the finish, only a few seconds separating them in 17th and 19th places respectively.
Robert Davison went out for a steady spin to take 25th place.
A huge thanks to everyone who helped out on the day. Special Mention to Killinchy CC, Dromore CC, Plush MTB, XMTB and Shimna Wheelers who all offered great assistance on the day to help run the event in conjunction with Dromara CC.
Many thanks to the commissaires, Glyn and Catherine O’Brien and Maurice Mayne.
Many thanks to the Trail Fairies, to all the club members who turned out on the day and the days leading up to the race.
Barry Kellett for having a crazy idea of running an XC MTB race, Paul M and Brian W for everything Forestry related, Rich for sorting out Marshal logistics, Lisa for sign on, set up, take down and experience… and to Martin for being Martin.