Ballymena Road Club – Chain Reaction Cycles – promoted their annual Wallace Caldwell memorial road race at Galgorm on Saturday.
A full field of 80 riders headed out from Rex Bonar house on Railway Street and they were neutralised to the race start at Gracehill and Galgorm bridge where they were to finish 78 miles and approx 3 hours later.
Last year’s runner up Fraser Duncan (Asea) was in all the early moves and he was in a three rider group which led by 12 seconds at Gulladuff.
This lead was 28 seconds at Maghera. At Swatragh, with 22 miles covered, the leading group was twelve strong, they had a 50 seconds lead and included – Fraser Duncan, Roger Aiken, Brian McCrystal (all Asea) John Madden (Dig Deep) Johnny Taylor (Carn) Mark Downey and Gareth McKee (both Banbridge) Des Woods (Newry) Chris McGlinchey (Chain Reaction) Glen Kinning (Kinning Cycles) Jody Wright (Phoenix) and Craig McAuley (Roe Valley)
After Garvagh and Ringsend, the leaders maintained their gap on the climb to the Cam forest and after the descent to Limavady their lead was 65 seconds as they turned right on to the A37 Broad road. (38.3 miles)
The next challenge was the climb to Springwell forest and this was to once again prove decisive. First to drop back was Wright with Taylor, Madden and Woods next to go.
At the front Duncan, Aiken, McGlinchey and Craig McAuley led by 17 seconds over the top of the climb. Downey tried hard to get back on terms and he effectively towed McCrystal back up to the front four.
The chasing group was never far behind and they were to sweep up Kinning and McKee by Aghadowey where, with two hours on the stop watch, the race had completed 52.4 miles.
Duncan and McCrystal drew clear and quickly built up a sizeable advantage. They stayed ahead over the final miles through Kilrea and in the Townhill road to Portglenone where the race passed the graveyard where Wallace Caldwell was laid to rest.
Coming into the finish at Galgorm bridge it was McCrystal who took the uncontested sprint from Duncan. (unofficial winners time 2 hours 56 minutes 10 seconds)They were followed in by a small group with Roger Aiken taking third ahead of Chris McGlinchey and Ali Macauley (Asea)
Ballymena Road Club’s best finisher was Ryan Bankhead who was 31st. next BRC was (41) Michael Carroll and (50) Matthew Brennan all at 8 minutes 50 seconds. Clifford Grant and Hall Booth also finished.
There was the usual great spread of food and good hospitality back at the Ballymena club rooms - many thanks to Mary, Carol, Hazel and Sadie. Thanks also to Joan McCullough on first aid. Unfortunately her services were required as a crash occurred within half a mile of the finish line.
Thanks also to PSNI and the excellent service they provided ably backed by civilian motorbike marshalls Sean Wright, Raymond Brownfield, Peter Cuthbert and Eamon Burns.
David Dougan and assistant race secretary Nigel Kernohan are to be congratulated and they would be the first to acknowledge the help of at least 30 Ballymena RC members and associate members and even a few former members and those from the Michelin cycling club.