Last weekend the Cycling Ulster XC Team travelled across to Cannock Chase in Staffordshire to race the third round of the 2019 British National XC series. 

These races see a van with all the riders kit and bikes travel overnight to arrive at the venue on Saturday morning while the riders fly and share hire cars so that they arrive at the race as fresh as possible but more importantly as cost effective as possible. 

Saturday sees a busy day of practice particularly on a course such as Cannock which is new to most of the riders and has a lot of natural trails as well as some man made rock gardens and features.  Dinner and an early night is the order of the day before an early start which sees our youth racers on the start line for their 9am races. 

First up representing Cycling Ulster were Darren Rafferty and Dean Harvey in under 16. Darren would have another strong performance as he raced to 5th place while Dean was caught up in an incident at the rock garden on lap 1 meaning a 15th place finish for him. 

Under 14 saw Travis Harkness of Carn Wheelers deliver another quality ride to 11th place while VC Glendale rider Aine Doherty would storm to her first podium in second place.

Aine’s day was made even better when her idol Evie Richards took the time to chat with her and wish her all the best for the future. 

The Junior Women’s race saw Niamh McKiverigan and Darcey Harkness line up in the red and yellow Cycling Ulster colours as they kept their impressively consistent results coming in 7th and 8th places. 

Junior men would see Ulster’s Lee Harvey ride to a fighting 8th place. A strong result in a world class field of juniors. 

Elite men had Cycleology Racings Gareth McKee and McConvey racings Graham Boyd take to the line. Gareth a non finisher this week with sickness while Graham rode to 24th place.  A word of thanks though to these two champions because they give up all their time at these events to help our young riders often to the detriment of their own performances. Not many riders of such stature would do the same! 

So by their own admission a tough weekend for our young guys and girls but invaluable experience banked as they continue on their cycling journey.