Ballymoney Cycling Club’s Maurice McAllister was elected as head of the biggest cycling body in Ireland. Cycling Ulster has over 8000 members and 137 clubs throughout the province and Maurice takes over from Belfast’s Tommy Lamb who stood down after 12 years in office.
McAllister, a founder of the top Ballymoney outfit in 1984 and a racing cyclist himself, riding and winning races at international, national and local level si looking forward to his role.
With cycling becoming increasing popular and the rise in health conciousness that sweeps across the country, the Ballymoney man has a raft of propoals and initiatives that he feels will further increase the awareness, not only that of competitive cycling but in the fast growing leisure and off road sections as well.
A recent winner of the Ballymoney regional award for Sports Administrator of the Year 2015, McAllister was instrumental along with his team at Ballymoney CC in bringing the largest Youth cycling event to the area. 197 young riders from 11 years to 16 years took part over thre days in time trialling, road racing and the fast and entertaining criterium racing. The Irish National Youth championships was hailed a massive success the like not seen in over 30 years.
McAllister who is very proud of his Ballymoney roots, is the current Chairman of the local cycling club with its ever growing membership and a race team of seniors and youth riders who have won more national gold, silver and bronze medals than any other team/club outside of Belfast. A very exciting Triathlon team who are enjoying not only national and local success but international awards with Portrush athlete Sonia Knox winning gold at the European Duathlon championships in Spain and bronze at the Irish Duathlon
championships this year.
The Ballymoney CC Youth Team where McAllister has a great interest, recognising the importance in developing and educationg our youth. In a sport that has an average age of over 30 years. The Ballymoney Youth team are the cream of Ulster in terms of awards and achievements. Winning 11 gold silver and bronze medals at the Ulster Championships in Omagh and the Irish National Champs in Westport Co Mayo. Ballymoney youths Arthur Taggart and Shay Donley from the U14 section won between them 7 provincial and Irish medals. This has never been equaled by anyone before not even Tour de France legend Stephen Roche or classic’s winner Sean Kelly.
When asked what were his first plans for 2016, Maurice sees his first year as an establishing himself into the role, looking from day one at the grading of competition, the scale of quality of racing not only of the riders but the clubs who organise them. Their experience, their committment to offering a challenging and worthwhile event.
Racing is more about getting the competitor to stretch to achieve and not just as some events have come to of just riding round and sprinting the final 200/300 yards. Then there is the ever growing concerns for safety on the roads of the riders. The education of not just the motorist but how the cyclist behaves on the road needs to be addressed and a meeting and accomodation of both road users facilitated. First Aid at events is an area that needs addressed, with the high speed of the racers and the thin clothing worn the volunteer groups like St John’s and Knights of Malta who provide a fantastic service more and more need to liase with the organisers at races.
The formation in 2014 of the Cycling Ulster Youth Academy and the Irish National Academy of which McAllister was instrumental in setting up and as the secretary until recently,these bodies are committed to youth development and bringing the best out of our young people.
The ethos of Ballymoney CC is it not just all about racing and competition, McAllister wants the club to provide an experience for the young people with the bicycle as the vehicle that can prepare them for later life, he added that riding a bike gives an area of discipline, dedication and a mental toughness when approaching every day challenges.
When asked how the new role would effect his work with the local club and teams, McAllister emphasised that anything including the appointment as Chairman of Cycling Ulster will only be good for the local
club, further raising the profile in the world of cycling. In closing the new Cycling Ulster chairman encouraged everyone young and old to get out on their bikes. People talk far too much about speed and what about their avaerage speed. This is not important to beginners, getting out for 10/20 minutes on the bike is the key. People without a bike in the Ballymoney area are invited to contact Ballymoney CC who have bikes that you can try and see if you enjoy it before buying one.