Bann Valley cyclists in action in Donegal

Bann Valley rider Shea McTaggart on one of the mountain climbs in Donegal.
Bann Valley rider Shea McTaggart on one of the mountain climbs in Donegal.

A number of Bann Valley Road Club members were in cycling action in Donegal recently.

The more faint hearted opted for the annual club week-end away to Ballyliffin, although hadn’t quite anticipated the horrendous weather conditions that would follow them.

The gale force winds over the Glenshane Pass prompted a slight change of plan with riders, all associated paraphernalia and bikes cramming into support cars at Altnagelvin to get over the Foyle Bridge and onto Bridge End.

At this point the hardy bunch, including many of our youth riders, got back on their bike for the spectacular, albeit wet and gusty, journey along the coast to the hotel.

The more fool-hardy perhaps, took the route over Mamore Gap, a climb of over 1 mile, with an average gradient of 12.4% and is widely regarded to be Ireland’s toughest climb.

BVRC also entered a race team into the 3 day Ras Dhun na nGall, this year was the 25th anniversary of this prestigious cycling event.

Congratulations to John Dicky, Gerard McNally and Shea McTaggart who achieved excellent results over the 3 days in very challenging weather conditions, and against a strong contingent of 180 top riders.

In the first stage Shea and Gerard started well, finishing in the bunch on Friday evening’s hard 30 mile road race, despite getting caught behind a crash midway through.

Saturday morning started with a tough 4km mountain climb time trial followed by a 80km road race with 2 tortuous climbs including the Corkscrew at Doochary in the afternoon.

The merciless weather conditions and harsh circuit caused a number of casualties, including Gerard McNally who came down heavily in a crash; luckily he managed to get back on the group and after some hard riding had enough energy to attack the already depleted peloton, bridge over the gap to a break away and secure a top 10 finish. John and Shea finished in the peloton which by that stage only had 40 riders left.

After a successful two days, which saw Gerard in 16th position overall, the team went into Sunday’s stage in high spirits - despite having a mountainous 100km route, culminating on the famous summit of Glengesh ahead of them.

Unfortunately Gerard was caught in another crash, but in true reflection of his grit and determination he managed to get back onto the bunch despite a broken frame and two buckled wheels.

Shea starred in this stage, finishing 46th and one of the top Junior finishers. This was a fantastic achievement for Shea who is a first year Junior rider and therefore a novice at this level of competition.

Overall Gerard finished 29th, Shea 39th and John 69th; BVRC were the 8th team.

BVRC would like to congratulate all 3 riders on their fantastic achievement, not forgetting Shane McTaggart who provided unstinting support throughout the event.