Dromore Cycling Club held their second charity sportive on Sunday, with over 200 cyclists taking part on a damp but warm day.
Preparations were underway for many weeks to ensure that everything went like clockwork. Everything from route preparation and liaison with PSNI and other public services, to sandwich making and sponsorship raising. It all fell into place on the day.
The only worry was the weather, however, this worry was short lived as many cyclists arrived fully prepared for the challenge ahead.
Two routes were on offer - 60 km (37 miles) and 100 km (62 miles) - with the split happening at Katesbridge.
With a mass start from Dromore Rugby Football Club, all the riders set off out the Lurgan Road before turning south to Gilford, Scarva and Loughbrickland.
After a warming tea stop in the kid’s park at Katesbridge, the shorter route headed back to Dromore with the longer route going north up Kilkinamurry hill to Kinallen, on to Dromara before climbing to Drumkeeragh Forest and round to climb the summit of Slieve Croob.
All the effort was to raise funding for two very worthwhile charities chosen by Dromore CC members - the Neurosurgical Ward Fund at the Royal Victoria Hospital Belfast, and Via Wings, Dromore. Two very worthy causes helping people within the local community and across Northern Ireland.
There was a very impressive turnout by family and friends at all key stations on the event, with everyone organised with precision and good humour.
Registration for the sportive was online in the preceding weeks with many more signing up on the day - they had clearly been considering the weather in the run up to the event and thought “what the heck, let’s do this!”
Clubs from all around Northern Ireland took part with cyclists from Slieve Gullion Wheelers, Keevan Cycling Club, SMCC Lisburn, Castlereagh Cycling Club, Dromara Cycling Club, Banbridge Cycling Club, Velo Club Iveagh, Portadown Cycling Club and many more.
Dromore CC would like to sincerely thank all the clubs and their members for their terrific support and helping the club raise a substantial amount of money for the chosen charities (the total raised will be published on the club’s Facebook page in the coming week).
Special mention must be made of Claire Andrews from Dromore Cycling Club who cycled for only the second time since having her (and Nigel’s) baby boy eight weeks ago. It was great to have her back and looking so well.
At the Katesbridge tea stop copious quantities of tea, coffee, tray bakes, buns, sandwiches and bananas were consumed by hungry cyclists.
The longer route up Slieve Croob was enveloped in low scudding damp mist as the stronger riders climbed for the summit. Many were still smiling in adversity - Velominati’s Rule 5 (“Harden up”) clearly applied.
As the riders emerged from the misty haze climbing strongly out of the saddle they had time to raise their arms in triumph and give thumbs up signs for the camera. Clearly pros in the making.
Meanwhile back at base, the Trailblazer BBQ was fired up in readiness to grill many burgers and sausages for the cyclists as they arrived back. Large quantities of food was laid out and an ice cream trailer was readied for action.
To run such a large event the club was reliant on the goodwill and support of many sponsors including Dromore Rugby Football Club (great hot showers!), Trailblazer towable BBQ trailers, Grahams Ice Cream, Boyles of Dromore, Quails Dromore, The Meat Centre Portadown, Supervalu Dromore and many more.
Bike maintenance and support was provided by Stephen Smith of JR Magill Cycles who provided superb service for on the road repairs. The event was of special importance to him as he and his family are engaging with one of the club’s chosen charities. Dromore CC would like to pass on their best wishes for a full and speedy recovery for his son following his recent operation.
The Order of Malta Dromore ambulance service were on hand for any incidents that might happen. Thankfully there were none, but having them there was a great comfort for the club.
The club’s motorcycle marshals leap frogged the cyclists on the road to ensure that all road junctions were manned and did a great job keeping the event safe for the passing peloton.
There was a bad car crash on the road into Dromore that didn’t involve any cyclists but meant that the route had to be hastily marshalled and rerouted around the incident.
Comments from participant on the club’s Facebook page have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive and greatly appreciated by Dromore Cycling Club.
Just one year to prepare to do it all over again next year!