Kathryn and Mark make their way onto the podium

Kathryn Aiken enjoying her cyclo-cross outing.
Kathryn Aiken enjoying her cyclo-cross outing.

Sunday’s Round Four of the Ulster Cyclo-Cross series in Larne provided a great opportunity for Banbridge CC’s newcomers to CX to show just what they’re capable of.

They certainly did just that, not least Kathryn Aiken and Mark Kendall, who both secured their first podium finishes in a new discipline.

Banbridge Cycling Club's Mark Kendall climbs a hill in Larne.

Banbridge Cycling Club's Mark Kendall climbs a hill in Larne.

In the Women’s race, Banbridge CC’s Kathryn Aiken stepped upon the podium in an excellent third place finish.

Kathryn is more commonly seen on the wider tyres of her mountain bike at these events but having swapped to the cyclo-cross, she has taken little time in moving up the placings and is mixing it up at the front of the race.

With multiple national champion title holder and husband Roger able to provide advice and tips, we could well be seeing more of Kathryn on the podiums.

In the men’s B race, there were six riders competing for Banbridge including Ian Cochrane, Chris McCann, Alan Black, Peter McBride, Mark Kendall and Jonny Lyons, who was making his off road debut.

Mark Kendall, who has been improving week on week in his first year of cycling managed his first visit to the podium in only his fifth race at the discipline.

There’s little doubting that a big result is expected from Mark and a move up to the A category races before the end of the season almost seem inevitable.

The Banbridge man’s first year in the sport has been an impressive one, starting off at local club racing level and trying out open racing later in the road season. By the time the curtains had closed on the road season, he had secured enough points to start the 2016 season in the hunt for an early upgrade to A3 status.

Those who know Mark are unlikely to be surprised by his quick progression up the ranks with a successful running career behind him, where he competed for Northern Ireland at the 2013 World Mountain Running Championships.

His running career unfortunately ended prematurely due to injury but there’s obviously a significant engine under the bonnet that is ready to adapt to his new chosen sport.

Fellow Banbridge competitors Chris McCann and Ian Cochrane continue with their consistency, finishing just outside the top 10 in a bumper field of almost 70 riders.

Further down the field were Alan Black, Peter McBride and Jonny Lyons who are all also enjoying their first season in the discipline.

Banbridge were also represented once again in the under six fun race by young Ryan McBride, with a smile even brighter than his finisher’s medal.