Once again in Bellurgan Park for Round 8 of the Cuchulainn XC League. This weeks course, short at 1.7km, but with 8 laps and plenty of opportunities to see who was on your tail or who you'd to catch consisted of a modified U14 course. This course, like most in Bellurgan Park has very little recovery and even less opportunity to get a drink on the bike. The recent rainfall had made certain parts of the course a bit slippy but generally the course was riding really well and what with Jason Malone's new trail down from the Bellurgan Climb to the Rock and Root this race was going to be an exciting one not only for the competitors but also the spectators who'd see the riders at least 3 times per lap. 8 laps in total, 13.6km and 224m of climbing. Photographs; thanks to Brian Mulligan.
Racing was tight from the off, battling for position before hitting the narrow section leading down from the top car park and onto the left hander to take the riders up into the Laurels. Dropping out of the Laurels single track onto the top track to allow plenty of overtaking opportunities to take place before heading back into the Laurels for a short spell before commencing up the Bellurgan Climb. It was here that the race took a left turn and descended all the way down to and through the Rock and Root, up by the top car park and around the series of berms and exiting on the main fireroad (no Tombstone this week). A sharp left turn and head up to the top car park to the start/finish to round the barrels for the completion of a lap. The nights racing was a continual flow of riders passing through the start finish area and with every lap you could see how the faster (more handicapped) riders were making their way through the field. A constant source of entertainment at the start/finish as riders occassionally required a reminder of how many laps they'd remaining in the race only to be told a random number, much to their annoyance.
Meanwhile in Race 1 Liam Burns and John Sharkey were making their way through the field of riders, John playing the waiting game by hanging off Liam's rear wheel, just keeping the pressure on, waiting for a mistake. But as the race progressed the gap between the 2 riders increased, John had let the gap gradually grow and before he knew it, he'd not enough laps to bridge the gap. Liam though was sticking with race favorite Jason Malone who had overtaken Liam not long after commencing the last lap. The 2 riders came up to the top car park from the Rock and Root, neck and neck, a series of berms and the short (but long when you're sprinting it) finish straight was all that remained. Jason rounded the final corner before the final sprint home but got caught up with another rider on the course allowing Liam to get back on his wheel. With the narrow lanes to allow up and down traffic, Liam couldn't overtake on the sprint to the finish so decided that the oncoming lane would be a good choice and narrowly took the win, daredevil style. Jason finishing less than a second behind and Brendan Callaghan rounding out 3rd.
Race 2 was also hotting up with 4 riders contesting the lead; David Hoey, John Noone, Greg Clifford and Paul Durnin all who had started in the same handicapped group were moving through the field and all staying in contention lapping within seconds of each other but none able to make a significant gap stick until the last couple of laps when David Hoey and John Noone managed to pull away. This was to be the order for the remainder of the race with David finishing in 1st place 30 seconds ahead of John Noone and rounding out 3rd was Greg Clifford. A few DNF's tonight, Kenny Sullivan, Seamus Meehan and Ross McArdle.
Congratulations to the first 3 riders in each Race:
- Liam Burns
- Jason Malone
- Brendan Callaghan
- David Hoey
- John Noone
- Greg Clifford
More info: Full results here
As always a very well done to the rest of the field for providing such a good racing experience for riders and spectators alike.
We look forward to seeing you all next week for Round 9 where the league will be held on the open mountain.