The club was officially formed on October 4th 1983 at a public meeting in Newcastle Centre. Dennis Ward, John Greene and Eugene Creelman were the founding members with Geraldine McMurray taking the minutes at the first meeting!
SHIMNA WHEELERS THIRTY YEARS YOUNG
by Teddy Hawkins
(published in the Mourne Observer January 2011)
Like the river from which it takes its name, Shimna Wheelers has had its ups and downs. There have been floods and dry spells but like ole man river it just keeps rolling along. The rolling along depends on who is setting the pace at the front, with the rest just sitting in.
Over the years the club has taken part in, and organised touring and charity rides such as Newcastle to New Ross, the Belfast to Dublin Maracycle, the Irish end to end; Mizen to Malin, the Border Trek, Galway to Dublin, Ireland west to east, Killybegs to Kilkeel, the nine county towns of Ulster in three days, Around Down in a day, the Dromara 125km and the Sperrins 100.
On the racing and mountain bike scene, the club had many top riders including Niall McWilliams, the McKibben brothers Alan and David, Andrew Callan, Simon Welby, Heino McGrath, Bartley Finnegan, Malachy O’Boyle, Ned Toner, Eddie Hawkins, Dennis Ward and Pat McKenny. Co operating with the forest service and Northern Ireland mountain centre, the club built and cleared a mountain bike trail in Moneyscalp Forest. This became the first dedicated course in Ulster, and is still used today on a regular basis.
Recently enquiries about the activities of the club have increased so maybe, another flood of recruits are coming.
After a few years of inactivity Shimna Wheelers Cycling Club officially reformed in March 2011. There was a resurgence of interest from old comrades which was encouraged and nurtured by other cycling enthusiasts. Guidance was provided by Annsborough native; Teddy Hawkins and the evergreen John Greene! Much needed financial support was provided by club members Tommy Mackin (Mourne Cycles), Joan Ladd (Top of the Town diner), Heino McGrath (McGrath Boilers) and John Greene (New Game Shop). With a few pound in the bank trendy new cycling shirts and bib shorts were designed and ordered by club stalwart John Clarke and everyone in the county agreed, we looked grand!
The first official club run was a leisurely potter out the Dundrum Road and along the coast to Ardglass. However by this stage that “friendly competitive edge” had kicked in and a “faster” group had shot off on it’s own. A couple of hours later everyone converged back in Newcastle, exhausted and hungry but happy and eager to do it all again the following Sunday. From that day the club has gone from strength to strength. Members have competed in various and diverse events such as the Dromara Coastal, the Dromara Sportive, Tour of the Glens, Tour of Louth, Over the Quoile, Dublin to Belfast Maracycle, the Pyrenean Raid, the Innisowen 100, the DRP Mizen to Malin, the Bothar 32 County Cycle, the DRP Nile Cycle Challenge and Lap the Lough. In July the club organised “Around Down in a day” which saw 30 members complete an 80, 100 or 150 mile cycle. Later on in July members participated in the “Ice Cream Sundae.” Here £250 was raised for the Sunflower Charity which helps orphaned children and disadvantaged women in Malawi. On a wet December morning 10 Wheelers completed the Newcastle Challenge Trail on their mountain bikes. This 28 mile route offers a perfect snapshot of life in rural County Down. It is a combination of forest trails, quiet, undulating country lanes and beach tracks which ensures constant scenic diversity and is a reminder of the beauty of our county.
In April, Shimna Wheelers inaugural Time Trial League began. This was a great success with many club members and cyclists from other clubs and even athletes from other disciplines participating. The last race of the season saw 30 cyclists from 5 clubs, as well as our own, compete in the Dundrum Road 10. “Chapeau!” to race commissaires John Clarke and Aidan McManus and to the people who marshalled the races.
As the year progressed, additional runs were added to the traditional Sunday run. Members were and are keen to cycle as often as possible and there is a cycle for nearly every day of the week! As the dark nights of Autumn crept in, a mountain bike run was added to the schedule. Good lights and a keen sense of adventure are essential! All this reinforces what a diverse and inclusive club we are; there is something for everyone!
In December, twenty four members attended the Christmas party in the Toscano. Good food / drink and company ensured a great night was had by all; some members waking the next morning with well earned sore heads!
Membership of the club peaked at 62, a great achievement for our first year. At least 40 members have been regulars in one or more of the club runs. Up to 40 members have participated in one or more time trial. Hopefully all present members and interested new comers can be enticed into the fold for the forthcoming year.
2012 promises to be another successful year; a Winter training week in Mallorca has been organised for late March. Members are already checking the leisure and race calendars; some are even looking to the big European cycling events! One thing we all can look forward to is another year of great cycling and mighty craic with like minded individuals.
The club has continued to grow from strength to strength; new members, open road racers, an inter club race league, an off road contingent, a youth section (Shimna Rockets), regular cycling trips abroad (French Alps and Nice being the most recent) and much more have ensured a healthy, vibrant club for the Castlewellan / Newcastle area!