Friday 20 April 2018 05:43:03 AM

Praise All Round For The Third Shimna Challenge Sportive
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The Shimna Challenge has successfully grown for the 3rd year in a row, cementing the 12th of July weekend as the Shimna Wheelers weekend writes Mark Rafferty, club spokesman.  

Shimna Wheelers Danny O'Boyle and Ronan Kelly at the front of the peloton.

Shimna Wheelers Danny O’Boyle and Ronan Kelly at the front of the peloton.

Despite a wet and blustery July day, 315 eager cyclists participated in this cross-community event which showcases the Mourne Mountains in all of there stunning glory and amazing beauty.

The Sportive has now become one of the main draws on the Cycling Ireland Leisure Calendar and attracts a wide range of cyclist, from the up and coming racers to the hardened weekend warriors and everyone in between.

Ciara Osborne & David McLeish from the Glendale  CCl tackle the Spelga climb.

Ciara Osborne & David McLeish from the Glendale CCl tackle the Spelga climb.

Cycling clubs from the full width and breadth of Northern Ireland took part with many staying overnight in Newcastle on the Saturday to save an early start in the morning.

In keeping with tradition the riders left Bryansford GAC clubhouse to the sound of Rob’s bagpipes!

Once out on the road, the peloton moved swiftly along the route into a stern headwind for the first few miles until they reached the food and water stops in Rostrevor and Hilltown.

Split loyalities in the Torney household?  Jacqui & David on the road

Split loyalities in the Torney household? Jacqui & David on the road in the Shimna Challenge.

Those taking on the 50 mile route got to enjoy the famed Spelga ‘S’ climb which saps energy from even the strongest of legs! The 30 mile route cyclists continued on their charge home to the awaiting spread in the Bryansford GAA clubrooms.

And back in the clubrooms what a spread there was waiting for them! They enjoyed a well deserved feast of tray bakes, soup, sandwiches, tea, coffee and all other manner of nibbles. Many a cyclist was heard commentating on the fantastic hospitality provided at the finish and the tremendous support provided along both of the routes.

Shimna Wheelers Charlie Houston in the middle of the peloton

Shimna Wheelers Charlie Houston in the middle of the peloton.

In fact over the past week Club Members and the Chairman have been inundated with compliments and thanks from numerous people who took part in the Sportive. There are far too many positive comments to publish in this report but one that particularly stands out was from a Dunloy Cycling Club member who said: “I simply signed up on the day and enjoyed a truly stunning route which was excellently marshalled. I returned to a feast at the finish and I then drove home with a massive smile on my face”. A top day out on the bike!”

The Shimna Challenge was once again a resounding success and is an event that will only continue to grow and grow year on year. The event would not have been such a success without all of the people who donated, helped, advised, and volunteered on the day and those folk who contributed in the planning and preparation stages. So thank you to everyone who helped.

A special word of thanks must also go to Mourne Cycles who provided mechanical support out on the road, Mauds Café for the 300 sweet treats, Hales’ Fruit Sales who provided the cyclists with bananas for much needed energy around the route, the motorbike marshals who safely guided the riders around both routes and Bryansford GAA club for the use of their facility.

Finally, the Club are very grateful for the support of all the cycling clubs who came down to Newcastle on a robust summer’s day and took part in the Challenge. Until the July 2017 edition of the Shimna Challenge, we would like to wish every cyclist happy pedalling and a strong tailwind on their back!