Success for Phoenix Women On and Off Road

On the 21st of July Gill Smith won a medal in the Elite Women’s Irish MTB championships promoted by Carn Wheelers in Davagh Forest in the Sperrins. Gill finished 3rd and was followed home by Julie Rea in 4th place. In the Veterans race Johnny Bogues had a good ride finishing in 7th place.

The following weekend saw the A4 riders in the club take part in the Omagh 3 day stage race. Phoenix had a men’s and women’s team taking part. Judith Russell won the women’s overall prize with Julie Rea in 4th place and Karen Hull finishing 7th. Gary Millar finished 3rd in the tough final stage. Below this picture of the Women’s Podium is a race report by Judith.


Second year doing the Tour of Omagh and such a fantastically organised event by Omagh Wheelers – everything taken care of including the safety pins for all 3 numbers, breakfast after stage 3 and soup & sarnies after stage 4 – thank-you! I think this year was tougher & more challenging than last year … hard to compare as we had super routes last year too which were different to this year. Stage 4 was still the killer though!

From the ladies perspective of the racing, we had a 3 minute handicap on the men for stage 1. All the ladies worked really well together to stay away for approx 13 miles until the first KOH. Our main aim was to get through the right hand turn off the main A road, through Victoria Bridge and on towards Castlederg. We rode really strong as a unit with constant up’n’overs all the way and had around a 21mph avg until caught. Once caught some of the girls were able to stay with the bunch, and it came down to a 70-odd person sprint for the line! Don’t think I want to experience that ever again – 12 people across the entire road and hard shoulders jostling for position, speed wobbles, etc – mental! There were 66 men and 4 women on the same time at the end of stage 1!

Stage 2 saw the ladies with a 5 minute handicap on the men. Again we rode really well as a unit, this time aiming to get through Castlederg where there was a left turn at a mini roundabout with an island in the middle of the road. We got through this and onto the first KOH before getting caught at around the 16 mile mark with an avg of 23mph. Again some of the girls were able to hang in with the main bunch and again it came down to a large (50 men & 4 women) bunch sprint for the line!

Stage 3 was the 2.5mile TT – and out and back course – turning around a car. Some good times posted – and most of them from the folks on TT bikes (note to self for next year!). This was the stage to break things up for both the mens and ladies race going into the final stage in the afternoon.

Stage 4 had the ladies with another 5 min head start. We knew we wouldn’t get as far as the right-hand switch back at over 20 miles out, so we just worked together for a long as possible – around 17miles – managing to get over the first KOH. This was the toughest route and day on the bike – constant hills and no let up. Was never so glad to see the end of a race!

Karen and Julie rode brilliantly all weekend. Was great craic to have a team there this year to support each other, drive the routes beforehand and generally faff before and after races (we seem to be masters at the faffing!). Karen went into stage 4 in 7th position and road a blinder to keep her place, taking a few scalps on that final climb. Julie was super strong all the way though and was able to defend her 4th place in the final stage. Tough competition from the other ladies. I reckon there will be a stream of ladies signing up next year.

Thanks to Geoff for travelling down each day to drive the support car for us – really appreciated this – just knowing someone is there in case you need them is brilliant … and to Rory too – great to see the enthusiasm of Maguire Junior during the weekend!

Really gutted for Finbar – hope you are on the mend and back out on the bike soon.

Great racing from Gary, Steven, David and Gerry – was always good to see the green & blue jerseys in the mix when the guys caught us on the RR stages. Super race for Gary today getting 3rd on the final stage and a massive thanks from me for providing a well-needed wheel to follow, especially around the right-hand switch back and the 2nd KOH!

PS – need to thank Smoff too for general bike maintenance, support & ferrying us around.

Aaron wins Groucho’s GP at Richill

Aaron McGrady won the Groucho’s GP A race at Richhill on Saturday 6th of July.  Aaron was the strongest rider in the breakaway group on the tough uphill finish, taking a well deserved win.  You can watch the race video and post race interview here. Pictured below is Aaron after being presented with the winners trophy.


Newry 3-day 2013

The Newry 3 day is a firm favourite on the local calendar and one which Phoenix riders will always target.  With clubs limited to 5 riders, Aaron McGrady, John Neil, David Neil, John Smyth and Karl Morgan rolled out for Phoenix.

Thanks to John Smyth for the following riders view of the race:

“First of all thanks very much to Jay for driving the team car on Friday night and Saturday and to Eamon Jnr for today. It is much easier for the riders knowing help is there if required and unfortunately I had to avail of it today. Its also very generous to give up a weekend to do this so from all the riders thanks very much.

Stage 1 – Friday – 3 .5 loops of the Warrenpoint to Newry carraigeway (a bit dull but very fast on tailwind section from newry to warrenpoint) and then a flat out sprint up Grinnan Rd. Big ring all the way. Karl and AAron stayed with the lead group of about 20. I lost touch near the top after getting held up on a narrow bit by boys going sideways. Full pelt to the line. Karl and Aaron placing 3rd and 4th.

Karl looks hungry on stage 1 (Photo courtesy of Amy-Norah Farrell)

Karl looks hungry on stage 1 (Photo courtesy of Amy-Norah Farrell)

Sat TT – 2.3 miles. 4.35 from Ingliss 4.47 for AAron and 4.52 for me – I felt awful during this – probably supposed to but v hard to get a rhythm. Karl and JN did this on road bikes and lost a bit of time. David unfortunately DNS due to bad chest.

Sat pm stage 3 – a 55 mile blast around Hilltown. 3 laps of Kilcoo circuit and then reed hall followed by elm hall and back down to finish in Hilltown. Good riding from the 4 of us with Aaron and karl again placing very highly and holding onto good GC positions. We were leading the team comp at this point.

Sunday 70 miles – seemed to cover most of Co Down and possibly a bit of Armagh. Break went at 5 miles. We did not have anyone in it but no problem 65 to go. Getting a bit worried when they had 3 mins plus. great effort from JN and Aaron from castlewellan to rafthfriland to close down most of the break which must have been down to 3 or so riders. Up rathfriland hill for first time (little ring here!) – great support from the Anti Social cheering us on squeezed a few watts more out of us. Hell for leather into Newry and then a real tough section back to Hilltown. Got dropped on rd out of newry but got back on just after Hilltown. Back into rathfriland with another surge of lactic acid screaming “whats wrong with golf at me”. Final lash into newry. Unfortunately I got into a tangle with another riders wheel 0.5 miles from Rathfriland and dented a kerb (yes bike ok but front wheel a bit square). Lost 2.5 mins due to this -and the team prize as well. Gutted as well as sore. Aaron, Karl and JN rode really well today on this stage and were very unlucky.

This is a brilliant race and I thoroughly enjoyed it bar the last 5 miles!. Super organisation and Marshalling from Newry and great support from PSNI. Aaron and Karl were very strong and there is much more to come from both of them. Aaron was very unlucky to drop down GC today – it was a strange stage. Great effort from JN today in the headwind section and then in an attempted break with 15 to go. David unlucky with illness. very strong wind over the 3 days made it a difficult race especially for the GC guys with limited teams.”

So mixed fortune for the team – fantastic individual performances and some bad luck with David’s illness and John’s crash.   Congratulations to Karl who is now upgraded to A2.

Stage 1 report

Stage 3 report

Stage 4 report and final GC