Not often stuck for words or jotting down a few lines, I am finding it difficult to describe how overwhelmed the David McCall Foundation  committee was with the support it received at Saturdays Youth Reliability from these young riders and their parents.

With it being  the St Patrick's day weekend we were a little apprehensive about the lack of numbers which may finally sign on but we were not to be disappointed. The bright spring morning sunshine and a real willingness from the riders and parents to support this new event had 48 riders turn out.

One of the key missions of the Foundation is to support youth development. Our rationale behind the event was to give the youth cyclist of today some of the same opportunities which the senior  riders have the luxury of, hence the running of a youth reliability. It also provided a chance for many of the cyclists and parents to  reacquaint themselves outside of racing, as a lot of them wouldn't  have had much contact from the end of the last years youth campaign.


We left no stone unturned in the organisation of the event, after all these young dudes and dudettes are the future of Cycling Ulster’s racing and they need support. Route direction markers were painted on the road; first aid was on hand, lead cars, broom wagons,  support vehicles and four motorcycle marshals provided a safe path  for the two groups to proceed. We had asked for the support of a number of our senior riders to offer guidance and advice throughout the runs but bad timing on our behalf ruled many of them out.

However, we were absolutely delighted at having the experience of  one of the men in form Fraser Duncan support us. The Foundation, parents and the young guy's appreciated Fraser taking time out to join them on the run.


Another rider with experience in abundance was Shaun Gray. Shaun has a  keen interest in youth development and he has a wealth of knowledge  to share amongst the riders. He was never shy in offering advice and encouragement throughout the day. Maryland Wheelers chairman Hamilton Topping and the incoming Cycling Ulster Youth Chairman Colin Hughes along  with a few parents were also out enjoying the sunshine.

        

On the girl side of things, Mary Boyd brought a group of young ladies down from  Roe Valley. Mary an ambassador for women's cycling really had these girls working hard making certain that they completed this testing enough circuit with an above average speed.

Just over 30 under 16 riders set out to take on a direct route from  Crumlin to Derrytrasna returning via the quiet roads of the Lough shore. My initial thoughts were that the pace would be brisk but boy did I underestimate the strength of this age group. Speeds in excess of 20 mph are nothing to them; I was absolutely astonished at the ease in which they ate up the road in front of them. It wasn't like a senior reliability whereby generally the pace is turned up towards the end of the run.

Order had to be called at certain points just to keep a reign on the pace for it was important that all those taking part enjoyed the day. Much to the young guy's credit they were extremely respectful  and did anything which was asked of them. They were a very chatty bunch and their company, conversation, and enthusiasm for cycling was very refreshing.


As with all reliabilities you can only chorale the energy for so long and at some point the harness had to come off. Six miles from the end they were given the option to ride straight into Crumlin or  they could take to the quiet Largy Rd loop where they could put some  real power down. The last few miles were interesting as one began to test the other trying to steal a whisper of confidence to carry into the next open Youth event.  The 48 mile route was covered in an average speed of 21.5 mph.

Phil Holland reported on the under 14yrs;

The under 14 age group had an entry of 18 boys and girls who were a  surprisingly very well coached group of kids who all enjoyed the  experience of mixing with the young cyclists from other clubs and we  all got to know each other during our 37 mile ride. As we set off  the group had a wealth of experience to keep everyone together, Anthony Mitchell and Nicola Oldham did a great job looking after the  rear of the bunch and myself, Tommy Lamb along with the dads  did our turns through with the changes which made it a well  marshalled outfit.

A deliberately moderate pace was set to encourage concentration and  this was achieved through most of the ride although as group captain  I had to threaten one or two with the 'yellow card' when the 'half  wheelin' started on the run for home, but all-in-all  I was very  impressed with the attitude of all of the youngsters who were a credit to their clubs and their parents, I hope they all made some  new friends and I'm really looking forward to our next event  together as I'm sure everyone involved is too.

Thanks to all the parents and volunteers who gave of their time, looks like we have something special to work on for the future.

Phil Holland.

Brian McComb who was also in attendance highlighted that this coming Saturday, East Tyrone is hosting the Ciclisport G.P. The circuit being used will be the exact same circuit being used at this year’s Ulster Youth Championships, so well worth a look if you are intent on doing well.

Lastly, the Foundation steering committee would like to thank all those who assisted in making this event a success. Due to the support of the parents, youth riders and volunteers we feel the  Youth Reliability had the impact we had hoped for. We look forward to working with you in the future.

Report by Mark Greer Chairman of the David McCall Cycling Foundation