RAY O'Shaughnessy made a fruitful trip to Omagh to race in the 2013 Ulster Mountain Bike XC Championships last weekend.
The race was held in Gortin Glen Forest Park, located 10km north of Omagh, where the hosting club Caldwell Cycles worked hard to create a challenging trail through the forest using the fire road climbs and plenty of natural forest single track.
The course on the Saturday before the race was in super condition with plenty of grip under the tyres however, come race day, there were some very heavy showers which affected certain parts of the course forcing some of the riders to dismount and run through sections.
All races began on the public road which was closed for the period of the races. This provided a great long sprint start to the first corner of the forest and Ray led the race from the start.
After one lap he held a comfortable lead of 29 seconds and by the end of the six-lap race finished 3 mins 6 secs ahead of second placed rider Graham Boyd from XMTB Cycles.
Ironically, having won the race, Ray didn't qualify for the Ulster title as he neither lives in Ulster, or is a member of an Ulster Cycling Club, so the title of Ulster XC Champion (Elite Category) went to second placed rider Graham Boyd.
Next month the National MTB XC Championships will take place in Garvagh Forest on 21 July 2013; where Ray is sure to feature on the podium again.
Locally, Round 7 of the MTB League tok place on a course very different from previous weeks with less fire road, but more single track climbs (8.9km in length) a technical section through the forest to end with an uphill sprint to the finish.
As always the riders set off at timed intervals based on handicaps, starting with a quick 1.2km fire road sprint to commence climbing up what's known locally as the 'Stinger' and continuing on after this to climb to 'G String' corner, followed by a nice flowy grassy single track descent to the area locally known as "'The Castles" and finishing through 'Aidan's Canyon' through the technical forest section, drop down and a 100m sprint to the line.
Racing this week wasn't as close as previous weeks, mainly due to the severity of the climb up the 'Stinger' and to 'G String' corner. All 15 riders finished within 15 minutes with some close sprinting to the line. Thankfully there were no casualties to report during the race, however, Shane Garvey did injure himself after the race in an unrelated MTB incident. Again, it helps to have a resident mountain biking doctor handy, and Meave Baxter administered her expertise,
Yet again thanks has to go to this week's timekeeper, Gary Sheils for not only recording the times and positions but enduring the local insect population.
Round 8 will be on Tuesday 9th July at 7pm, as the Louth Championship are taking place on Tuesday 2nd July. All visiting club riders and guests are welcome to compete as long as they hold a current (2013) Cycling Ireland Licence.