Pre-Christmas fun

07 December 2014
The Ballymena Road Club – Chain Reaction Cycles - fun tour theme continued on Saturday morning when the group assembled at Rex Bonar house for their now annual pre-Christmas "soup and sandwiches” tour to the "Waterwall” at Clady. 
Conditions were again very favourable and the tourists enjoyed their outing which took in Ballymena, Cullybackey, Kilrea, Upperlands, Maghera,Culnady and Innisrush before the refueling stop at the Waterwall Inn. 
The host was fellow cyclist Paddy Mooney, who is a member of Bann Valley, and who also completed eleven of this season’s fun tours.
Paddy’s wife Peggy and his daughter were in charge of the catering which included home-made vegetable soup and hot mince pies, all washed down with as much tea and coffee as one could drink! 
Paddy’s fund raising efforts on Saturday raised £500 and this will be forwarded by Paddy to Marie Curie cancer care.
Two other road club groups were on the road on Saturday. Hall Booth had a six rider group which completed a 55 miles ride to Toomebridge, Loup, Moneymore and Maghera at an 18.4 mph average.
The "B” group did a ride to Kilrea, Garvagh and Maghera before too calling in at the Waterwall for Paddy’s hospitality. 

The 2014 fun tours visited many places of local beauty and historic interest such as Portna Locks, near Kilrea, on the river Bann, Arthur Cottage on the European heritage open day, The Holy well at Cranfield near Toomebridge, Killalane reservoir, Glenarm, Carnlough, Waterfoot and Glenariff and Saturday was no exception as the O’Kane’s Waterwall Inn has a story of its own.
The Waterwall was founded in the early 19th century in the pre Victorian era and is one of the few licensed premises left which retains the character of the Dickensian times.
The Waterwall was one of the original posting inns where weary travellers changed their horses on the long trek from Londonderry to Ballymena.
This stage coach inn still retains the walled coach yard, the stables, the coach house and many trappings of that bygone age.
The inn is steeped in history and one macabre story centres on one of the previous owners, one Paddy O’Kane, who was bludgeoned to death with a hatchet. The marks left by the hatchet on the low raftered ceiling were still visible until recent years, the murder was never solved.
There were no such attacks on Saturday, save for a good "bun worry” and each rider in the group trying to get to the top of Tully first on the way home. 

Town Hall date for fun tour cyclists.
The Mayor of Ballymena Mrs. Audrey Wales hosted the cyclists who took part in the autumn and winter series of Ballymena Road Club fun cycle tours at a special reception in the Town Hall last night, Monday 8th December.
This year’s series attracted a record total participation of 943 over the 13 weeks (average 73 per week) during which 163 different cyclists completed at least one tour. The previous record was 779 in 2012.
This year eight riders achieved full attendance, they were John Elliott, Sean Elliott, Iris Grant, Sammy Kerr, Jackie Knowles, Pius McKernan, Martin Ruddy and, of course, Rex Bonar who was in attendance every week to open up the car park and clubrooms.
There were 32 gold medallists who completed at least 11 tours: 23 silver medallists, who had at least 8 tours and 35 bronze for 5 tours.

Record collection for Chernobyl Children.
Eleanor Duffin of the Chernobyl Children’s appeal NI, the chosen charity of this year’s fun tour series, was due to accept a cheque for £1089, which was the total donated by the fun tour entrants and by those who had taken part in the Nine Glens Challenge in July. This was a record total this year, beating last year’s best collection which had been £1050.
I will have a full report of the evening’s activities at the town hall next week.

Ballymena Road Club member Geoff Bell continues with circuit training classes at the club’s Rex Bonar House premises this Thursday evening 11th December at 8pm, all club members are welcome.

Eileen Shortlisted for Ballymena Sportsperson of the year
Congratulations to Ballymena Road Club’s Eileen Burns who has been shortlisted for the Ballymena Adult Sportsperson of the year. The winner will be announced at the end of January. Let's hope Eileen wins.

Helpers needed for Time Keeping and Marshalling
Folowing the retirement of the road club’s long serving timekeepers Alan Mark and Billy Jebb an appeal goes out to anybody willing to help with time keeping and marshalling at club races in 2015. Please contact Race Secretary David Dougan or Nigel Kernohan. It is planned to do some training at the start of the new year.

Touring committee Chairman Patsy McGurk reminds everyone who is taking part in the weekend club runs of the requirement to have mudguards fitted to their bikes. Extra long rear guards are especially beneficial to those riding behind that particular machine as it eliminates muddy spray and helps everyone to come home a bit cleaner.