The mountainbike racing team of local cycling club Maryland Wheelers had a busy weekend competing at two somewhat unusual events over the last weekend. 

            The first of these was a mountainbike duathlon event at An Creagan, outside Omagh. This is a relatively new type of event on the Ulster scene and consisted of a 5.2 km run, 104 km off-road cycle before finishing with a further 3.4 km run. Gavin Thompson, David McKee and Winston Johnston all took to the early morning start line in pretty cold conditions in a 40 strong field. Gavin and David both emerged from the first run in around the top 10, with Gavin reaching the bike first, only to be overhauled slightly by David during this second leg, maintaining this position through to the end to finish in 8th place overall with a time of 61minutes 50 seconds.  Gavin finished just over a minute behind at 63.32 (13th position) and Winston completing in 70.10 for 28th place.

            Strathpeffer, north if Inverness was the location more a more unique event this weekend - the Strathpuffer, and Maryland rider Colin McKee travelled over 9 hours just to get there on Friday evening. Participants flock from all over Europe to take part in this legendary 24 hour event, now in its 10th year of running.  Lights, food and hot drinks were needed from the start for the 1200 riders at 8 am in near-zero conditions.  Over the course of the day, the riders tackled a mountainous course, including treacherous downhill rock sections- that became covered in thick ice as temperatures dropped to -5 degrees after sunset.  Determination and endurance were the order of the day, as body and machine were tested.  Gears, bearings and lights developed problems in the freezing conditions for all the riders and all had to be taken off the course overnight for rest and safety.  Even with the deteriorating conditions, which limited progress for everyone, Colin showed real mettle by finishing in 80th position in the solo men category – a fantastic achievement.

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