NORTH OF IRELAND BICYCLE MEET (1881)

NORTH OF IRELAND BICYCLE MEET

President – Professor Everett, M A D C L. Committee – J O Rogers, A S Matier, N B C; J C Craig, R A Drean, W B C; F J Brill, W R Stitt, R B C; O’D Grimshaw, C Nesbitt, Q C B C, W L Fulton and W E O’Rorke, G B C. Timekeepers – James Bennett. Starter – H H Law. Judges – J O Rogers and J C Craig. Stewards – the Committee. Hon. Sec. R A Drean.

On Saturday, in spite of the exceeding bad appearance of the day, the first North of Ireland bicycle meet took place. It was at first proposed, on account of the bad roads, to confine the meet to Ormeau Park, but as the committee considered such a course would disappoint large numbers of spectators, they decided to carry out the original programme. The result showed that they had not been mistaken, for at all corners along the route crowds had assembled and the appearance of the cyclists was greeted with enthusiastic shouts of “Here they are at last.” Shortly after half-past four the stirring strains of the bugle were heard summoning the members to mount and proceed on their way. Precedence in the procession was given to the club which turned out the greatest number of men in uniform. The following was the order and the numbers: – Windsor, 14; Richmond, 12; do.6 (not in uniform); Northern, 11; Greenisland, 5; Rovers, 5; Queen’s College, 2; Unattached. 28; Tricycles, 3 – total, 81. These numbers would, doubtless, had been considerably stronger had the weather been finer. Professor Everett, the president of the meet, kindly took the lead and the procession, leaving the park by the Lugan Village entrance, proceeded by the following route: – Sandquay, Ann Street, Victoria Street, High Street, Castle Place, Donegall Place, Bedford Street, University Road University Street, Ormeau Gate. Several Streets had become so slippery that it was with difficulty progress could be made. In Ann Street and Victiria Street especially, owing to the tires of the machines slipping upon the square setts, it was found almost impossible to ride. Happily, however, no accident occurred until Donegall Place had been reached. Here a slight obstruction in the shape of a tramcar caused the expeditious but dignified removal from his saddle of a member of the procession. At the park gate, owing to the steep gradient, it was considered advisable to dismount and walk for a distance. At the top of the incline the command to remount was given, and the cyclists having gained the central path, received the order to “pile.” The machines having been “stacked” a heavy shower compelled everyone to take shelter for a short time. The five miles’ race was then started in the presence of from about 5,000 to 6,000 people. The first prize, a silver and oxidised tankard, was presented by a member of the N B C. The second prize, presented by another member, was a silver and oxidised goblet and the third prize was given by Messrs. Jennings & Co. The competitors were –  A Wilson, R B C., 70 secs; W Weir, R B C., 60 secs.; D O’Rorke, G B C., 50 secs.; R A Drean, W B C., 45 secs.; H M Bell, N B C., 45 secs.; F Hunter, W B C., 10 secs M’Caw, W B C., scratch; J Bell, G B C., scratch. Shortly after the start Droan took the lead and maintained it throughout, closely followed by Wilson and Wier. The latter, however, dropped out after three laps had been completed, as did also H M Bell. Hunter came to grief in the fifth lap. Throughout the entire race M’Caw, one of the scratch men, though heavily handicapped rode a plucky race. The order at the finish was – Drean, 1; Wilson, 2; M’Caw, 3; O’Rorke, 0; J Bell, 0. Time, 19 mins 46 and 2/5ths of a second. The twenty miles race, confined to members of the Windsor Bicycle Club, was then proceeded with, the prizes being two gold and one silver medals. The entries were – A Drean, 4 mins; R Dunscath, 4 mins; – Young. 30 secs.; – Gilmore, scratch; – Thompson, scratch. The limit men made the pace somewhat hot for the first several rounds. At the sixth Young, who had been going in excellent form, unfortunately fell and lost almost 100 yards, while he procured a second bicycle. He also found this one unsuitable and procured a third. Although he had no chance of winning, yet he rode a determined race to the finish, when he was loudly cheered. The principal feature of the race was the struggle between Gilmore and Thompson, whom not more than a few yards separated throughout. Drean and Dunscath had the race to themselves for about fifteen miles, when the scratch men, gaining on them, the excitement became very great, especially as darkness had almost set in and it was only when the competitors were passing that they could be distinguished. The race terminated as follows: – Gilmore, 1, Thompson, 2; Drean, 3; Young, 0; Dunscath, 0. Won by 10 yards. Time, 1hr 24 mins 17 secs. Through the kindness of the Mayor (Mr E P Cowan, JP.) the route taken by the procession was kept clear by policemen.

The Belfast News-Letter, August 29, 1881

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