Ards Cycling Club

Ards Cycling Club -

Ards CC AGM – what next?

This year’s Ards CC Annual General Meeting will be on Wednesday 10th December at 7.30pm in Ards Leisure Centre. All members will have the chance to select the committee that will run the club for the next 12 months, and to influence what the club does.

Below is an editorial piece. It does not necessarily represent the views of the committee, but will hopefully promote some constructive debate. 

There has been some tension in the committee recently, partly caused by differences of opinion on how best to run the club. This is not entirely unexpected as the objectives of the club evolve over time.

Ards CC has a long and proud history.

In the late 1970s, the focus was on recruiting and developing younger riders. The current medal scheme and handicap trophies were put in place. Ards CC schoolboys and juniors won races and championship medals in Ulster and Ireland, were picked for representative teams, and even set a couple of unofficial world records. Over half the membership was under 18.

Five Ards CC schoolboys were part of the Discovering America cycling expedition that cycled 3960 miles coast to coast across America in 1980, setting 2 unofficial world records along the way.

By the late 1980s, the younger membership started to decline and the focus changed to our senior riders who were successful throughout Ireland and beyond. For example, Ards CC teams took the yellow leaders jersey in the Gorey 3-day, the Tour of the North and the Tour of Ulster. As new branches of the sport emerged there was debate about whether we should get involved in Mountain Biking and Triathlon – we had champions at both disciplines. The club was even affiliated to the Cycle Touring Club for a couple of years.

Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman went head to head on the Portaferry Road

The club also became heavily involved in event promotion, peaking with two head to head races featuring Olympic Champion Chris Boardman and World champion Graeme Obree. We also promoted two very successful Irish Championships.

We’ve also been lucky enough to have had many excellent officials and support volunteers, including international mechanic Lindsay Gamble, and Dany Blondeel’s Belgium Project.

Lindsay pictured helping out with the Belgium Project. He has been mechanic on teams from Ards CC right through to the Irish team at the World Championships, and has a huge wealth of experience.

In recent years the cycling scene, and Ards CC, have continued to evolve. On a positive note, membership has grown steadily and our club runs are very popular. Club race participation is increasing. Our Tour of Strangford sportive was a huge success this year with over 270 riders taking part. And of course there is the rise of Strava….

On a slightly more negative note, underage membership has continued a long decline, with just 2 members under the age of 18 this year. The number of Ards CC riders competing in open races has also continued to decline, particularly in road races. And we lost the Portaferry 3-day this year.

This pattern of change of not unique to Ards CC. There is no right answer to what a cycling club should be.

I think the changes outlined above have, in part, contributed to the tensions in our committee. It is important to periodically discuss and agree a set of objectives for our club. This will allow our members (new and existing) to understand what sort of club we aspire to be. And it will give a clear direction to the committee.

I therefore suggest we take 15 to 20 minutes at the start of this year’s AGM to review and agree the objectives of the club. We can then proceed to elect a committee that is bought into achieving these objectives.

Club Dinner Details

William Gill with one of his 6 trophies at the awards night last year

Award Night in Romas (Newtownards) on Friday 21th November 2014 from 7.30pm..dinner served 8pm.

A choice of 3 set menu’s will be available (3 course +coffee+glass of wine or soft drink or pint ) £25.00 per person ( a vegetarian option on request ,as alternative set menu is included )
Menu will appear here in a few need to book and pay before Friday 14th of November, with any of the committee members below.Please bring a prize for the raffle(proceeds to the clubs funds)
Book and pay with David Mc Nally 07761605398 or 91-819422
Marie Irvine 91-810345
John Arlow 07796696316
Desi Mc Ilwrath 91-874225
ROMAS has been a faithful sponsor of the club for years and renowned for their food and craic
regards Dany PRO

£2680 raised at Tour of Strangford

Thanks again to everyone who supported our Tour of Strangford leisure ride in September. Due to generous sponsorship from Jarrah Coffee Shop and Restaurant our basic running costs for the event were covered, and we were able to donate the money from entries to our two nominated charities – Diabetes UK and Meningitis Reseach Foundation. Below are copies of their thank you letters, showing how much your generosity was appreciated.

So – not just a great day’s cycling! Hopefully we’ll see you all again next year (or maybe on one of our club runs before then..).

Certificate of thanks from Meningitis 8-10-14


Meningitis thanks letter 8-10-14


Diabetes UK letter of thanks 8-10-14

Club Run Season in Full Swing

One of the best ways to enjoy cycling is the club run. It’s a great way to meet like-minder individuals, enjoy a bit of craic, discover some new roads, and learn how to ride in a group and share the work.

Desi would be proud of this group – just a few miles from Comber and already the lead rider is pointing to grass in the middle of the road

And if you are new to club cycling, autumn is the perfect time to try out a club run – the racing season has come to an end and the racing guys will be taking it easier for a few months.

Ards CC run two weekly club runs. The first meets at 9.30 on Saturdays in Comber Square (with a feeder group leaving Newtownards Fire Station at about 9.10). Club chairman Desi leads 20-30 regulars on a magical tour of the back roads – usually lasting about 40 miles and often with a tea stop. Pace is a sociable 15-16 mph.

When I was a schoolboy, I had a local map stuck on my bedroom wall where I used to mark all the roads I’d ridden on. Desi will help you get your map fully coloured in!

A few of the regulars on the Sunday run

Sunday’s run meets at Newtownards Fire Station at about 9.30am (with a feeder group meeting at Nero’s in Conway Square first for some continental sustenance.) This run is a bit faster (maybe 18mph) and a bit longer (50-60+ miles), with the odd “special” thrown in.

You’ll need a well maintained bike and a helmet, and if you want to join us regularly you also need a licence to give you the appropriate insurance cover. We’ll be happy to talk you through it on a Saturday morning.

Closing in on the mythical village of Scollogs Town. Where will next week’s club run take us?

Why not give it a go!?

Fantastic turnout for Tour of Strangford

<Report from Dany Blondeel, pictures from David McVeigh. >

Just amazing!

You have to respect N-Ireland cyclists..when it comes to charity they come in their droves..We needed 4 ferry crossings in Strangford to shift the lot..A record broken in the history from Ards CC (1944 when it al started ) 281 entries ,with 271 taken the road around the Ards Peninsula and to be greeted by dry weather, and a light breeze..At the pit stop at Downpatrick been welcomed by our fantastic tea ladies and  roadies, with food for the hungry ..before catching the Portaferry Ferry …an tailwind then all the way home to Newtownards Town as send from heaven ..all riders finished in good time for a feed ,left over of the food and drinks we expected 180 riders and the catering had to deal with 100 extra hungry cyclists..a few runs to the shop was needed..but everyone fed ..and due to generous sponsorship of Official Jarrah of Ards Coffee shop ,all running costs been met !! This resulted in a whopping £2680 for the charities Meningitis Research and Diabetes UK ! As a Belgian I am proud of my adopted country..the generosity of his people is second to none!! Thanks to all who helped to get this on the road ,and the mass of cyclists word can describe this…….CHAPEAU

The mother and grandmother of wee Jaxon Roy Kelly (local child)who passed away after a battle with Meningitis, Melissa representing the Diabetes Uk and the Meningitis fundraisers and ToS organiser Dany

Thanks to David McVeigh for driving me about today first outing in months not to a hospital ..great medicine the fresh air ..his pictures will be linked soon to this story ,and I can promise there is some crackers..please tag yourself in the ones I took today ..

Ards CC proudly lead the run out of Newtownards

Great turn out for Bradshaw’s Brae Hill Climb

Perhaps inspired by Nicholas Roche’s exploits in the Tour of Britain today, there was a great turnout of 16 riders for tonight’s club hill climb on Bradshaw’s Brae.

Fastest was former Irish hill climb champion Mark Kane, who stormed up the hill in 3:55 – a time that would have given him a podium in the Tour of North when the course was used for a stage in the 1990′s. Second was mountain biker Johnny Reid, with Ards CC’s Gareth Murray just one second further back.

Historic moment – Mark Kane wins the Irish hill climb championship in 1991. Ards CC promoted the race on Carrowreagh Road.

Full results -

  Name Club Time
1 Mark Kane Northern Dave Kane 3:55
2 Johnny Reid Kinning Cycles 4:11
3 Gareth Murray Ards CC 4:12
4 David Hamilton Curran Racing 4:13
5 Richard Topping Ards CC 4:22
6 Geoff Brennan Ards CC 4:23
7 David Fowler Northern Dave Kane 4:26
8 Shane Farren North Down CC 4:27
9 Richard Hanna Ards CC 4:40
10 Andrew Evans Killincy CC 4:43
11 Mark Watson Ards CC 4:56
12 Gordon McEwan Ards CC 5:00
13 Colin Wilson Ards CC 5:10
14 Jill McClements Killinchy CC 5:12
15= Alan Rodgers Unattached 5:41
15= John Arlow Ards CC 5:41

Darren takes another trophy

Visitor Paul Crossen (Killinchy CC) won tonight’s 5 mile time trial with an impressive time of 11:18. Second was David Fowler (Northern Dave Kane), with Robin Millar (Ards CC) also dipping under 12 minutes to take third place.

Darren Colville had the biggest improvement on his previous personal best, and this was enough to give him overall victory in the 5 mile handicap trophy with a maximum 20 points over this year’s two fives.

Place Name Club Time H’cap
1 Paul Crossen Killinchy CC 11:18  
2 David Fowler Northern Dave Kane 11:34  
3 Robin Millar Ards CC 11:48 1 pt
4 Colin Massey North Down CC 12:04  
5 Richard Topping Ards CC 12:17 7 pts
6 Geoff Brennan Ards CC 12:21 2 pts
7 David McCann Ards CC 12:37  
8 Martin Drennan Ards CC 12:44 5 pts
9 Andrew Evans Killinchy CC 12:49  
10 Colin Wilson Ards CC 12:58 3 pts
11 James Lemon North Down CC 13:04  
12 Darren Colville Ards CC 13:18 10 pts
13 Alan Rodgers Unattached 13:20  
14 John Brown North Down CC 13:39  
15 Gillian Orr North Down CC 14:04  

Thanks to time keepers Ron and Bobby, pusher off Paul and turn steward Desi.

A North Down CC jacket was left behind tonight – it can be picked up at the hill climb next week. A red top was also left behind at the club BBQ – it can be collected next week as well.

Darren takes 10k trophy

With the easterly breeze fading in the evening sunshine, there were no personal best times in the final 10k of the season. Ivan Robinson was once again fastest, but it was Darren Colville who was closest to his PB time for this event, giving him 10 points on handicap and clear overall victory in the 10k Handicap trophy.

Full results, and the final standings in the 10k trophy, are in the tables below.

Thanks once again to time keepers Ron Martin and Paul Robinson, and to pusher off Desi McIlwrath.

Place Name Club Time H’cap
1 Ivan Robinson Ards CC 13:09
2 Robin Millar Ards CC 13:17 1 pt
3 David Fowler Northern Dave Kane 13:26
4 Richard Graham Northern Dave Kane 13:39
5 Paul Kane Northern Dave Kane 13:42
6 Mark Watson Ards CC 14:03
7 Paul McMinn Ards CC 14:04
8 William Orr Ards CC 14:26 5 pts
9 David McCann Ards CC 14:33 3 pts
10= Colin Wilson Ards CC 14:51 2 pts
10= James Lennon North Down CC 14:51
12 Gillian Orr North Down CC 14:53
13 Andrew Laverty Northern Dave Kane 15:03
14 Alan Rodgers Unattached 15:06
15 Darren Colville Ards CC 15:29 10 pts
16 Brian Wylie Castlereagh 15:51
17 Amy McCann Ards CC 19:20 7 pts


10k Straight TT Handicap Trophy – final standings 2014

Place Name 15 April 29 April 26 Aug Total
1 Darren Colville 2 10 10 22
2 Gareth Murray 10 10
3 Richard Hanna 7 2 9
4 William Gill 5 3 8
5= Amy McCann 7 7
5= Johnny Frazer 7 7
7= Paul Cunningham 5 5
7= William Orr 5 5
9 David McCann 1 3 4
10= Colin Wilson 1 2 3
10= John Arlow 3 3
12 Robin Millar 1 1

Great day at Club BBQ

There were over sixty members and friends at the club BBQ on Saturday afternoon, aged from less than 1 to over 80. A sunny evening encouraged the children out into the garden to play and explore, leaving the adults free to relax and chat.

Highlight for many was the roller racing. First up were the kids, with Ross McMinn fastest of the boys in 25.39 and Emma Martin fastest girl with 26.45.

In the adult races, club chairman Desi showed no mercy on daughter Clare, winning in an impressive 24:26.

Clare on her way to the first lady prize.

Paul McMinn was the first to break the 20 second barrier with a 19.91. John Carty bettered that with 19.27, before Paul charged to the best time of the day – 18.71. Paul Robinson was the only other rider to dip under 20 second with a time of 19.81.

Willy Gill was fastest on the kids bike with an amazing 20.78. We’re still trying to work out what this achievement means…..

The quiz was the usual mix of cycling questions with an Ards CC twist. The picture round reflected what a great year it has been, with record fields in our club races, four successful open race promotions and the Giro. We also had Martyn carrying the flag for the Northern Ireland team at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, and Ards CC alumni competing in four separate events. Winner of the quiz was Paul Robinson, but “the quizards” (Emma and Hanna) ran him close after a lot “answer trading” with other guests…

It was great to see Leonora Williams (nee Fagan) and husband Billy at the BBQ. Leonora attended some of the early club meetings back in the ’40s with her father, and was a regular on club runs in the 1950s (Billy rode for the Maryland Wheelers club). Bobby Magreechan surprised everyone by bringing along Leonora’s “Stone Special” frame. Some of the younger members weren’t too sure if “Stone” referred to legendary Belfast frame builder Geordie Stone, or to the weight of the frame compared to a modern carbon fibre super bike. But stories of club runs to the Gobbins on a steel frame, 72″ fixed and hard Brooks leather saddle reminded us all of the toughness of our founder members.

As always, thanks to all those who made the event possible. Special mention to -

  • Willy Gill for supplying the soft drinks
  • Patricia Watson, Joyce McIlwrath and the Cartys for deserts
  • Jack for washing the dishes and generally keeping us tidy.
  • Graham for manning with the bar-b-que

And everyone for turning up and making it such a great event.

Duncan dominant, McMinn takes trophies

Fraser drives the scratch group, before leaving them to solo to victory

Commonwealth Games rider Fraser Duncan (Northern Dave Kane) stormed through from the scratch group in tonight’s road race at Carrowdore to take a solo win by nearly a minute.

Paul McMinn looks pensive before the start


Paul McMinn sprinted in at the head of the main bunch to take the Billy Boal trophy for first Ards rider in the final road race of the season. He also picked up another 10 points, which means he wins the season long club road race trophy as well.


Third on the night was Jonny Webb (North Down), with Willy McMullan (Ards CC), Noel Boyce (North Down) and Liam Curran (Curran Racing) rounding out the top 6.

Click here for more great photos from David McVeigh.

Here are the final standings in the club road race trophy. This table also shows the top six riders in tonight’s race.

Place Name 13/5 3/6 1/7 29/7 19/8 Total
1 Paul McMinn 10 7 10 10 37
2 Willy McMullan 10 10 1 7 28
3 Geoff Brennan 2 3 7 5 17
4 Richard Topping 5 1 2 3 3 14
5 William Gill 7 5 1 13
6 Chris Lappin 7 5 12
7 Richard Hanna 1 2 2 2 7
8 Jack Anderson 5 5
9= Chris Brown 3 3
9= Graeme Brown 3 3
11 James McFarlane 1 1