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.