A magnificent weekend of racing in Bellewstown with what must be a record number of Orwell Wheelers riding: 9 riding in club colours and 7 racing for the Leinster provincial teams. For a couple of families it was their first experience of children's open racing and, as always, Drogheda Wheelers put on a fantastic show. I'll just pick out a few highlights, because otherwise this report could run to PAGES!

Stage 1

A 1.7km crit circuit, including a couple of challenging corners, started proceedings. A sensible decision to separate the boys and girls races kept the numbers down to manageable levels, but the fields were still big, with 48 riders lined up for the U16 boys! The smallest field, at 11 riders for U12 girls, was still big enough for some great racing.

James Cunningham, riding for Leinster B in U12, was caught out by a perfectly timed attack a canny kid from Cork (there are plenty of them around ...) but finished a fantastic second on the line.

Big sister Elise (U14) overcame the pressure of the tight circuit: I've never seen such determination on her face as she drove up the finishing hill to secure a fantastic sixth place, while Tadhg Killeen was only one place further back in a big field of 36 in the boys race.

In the U16 race, Connor Fennell experienced the white heat of his first open race and kept on working hard throughout. Patrick O'Sullivan rode brilliantly for 5th place, with Ryan Fox just two places back.

Stage 2

The afternoon saw the toughest circuit of the weekend. A gentle breeze and cold spring sun meant that conditions were perfect for some tough racing.

In U12, Katie Turner improved on her third in the first stage to finish second.

The challenging starting hill meant the U14 field split right from the gun, but Fionn Killeen was always in the ever-shrinking front group and took a fantastic fifth place. Daithi Killeen and Fionn Crinion discovered that the step up to U14 meant a huge increase in pace and distance, but fought gamely to the end!

U16 riding can be a more cagey affair, with only one rider able to get away from the pack, leaving a dozen riders in a bunch sprint with Ryan Fox, Luca Holmes and Killian O'Brien all present. Patrick was really unlucky to get three punctures, spoiling his chances completely. Áine Reilly worked really hard on the hills to take several great places.

Stage 3

A much flatter, faster circuit on a windy day made it much harder for any breaks to form. A tailwind on the approach to the finish meant it looked all set for bunch sprints in every race. But bike racing doesn't always follow the expected script ...

In the U12 race, I was with John Turner about 50 yards from the finish as we saw a big bunch approaching. There was one rider off the front ... and John almost lost his mind when he realised it was Katie Turner! The bunch were galloping fast behind and we could see that it was REALLY close at the line, but we didn't realise how close. Huge congratulations to Katie who held off about 15 boys and girls to take the win on the line: who dares wins!

The final race of the weekend saw U14 and U16 races on the same circuit. Driving the Orwell car through the cavalcade meant I saw the fights that so many kids put up to stay in the main bunch, as well as the cooperation between the various groups after they got dropped. It was really noticeable the way boys and girls worked together to keep the pace up, including one group with Elise Cunningham and Milo Wigfield.

In the U14 race, Davis Quinn had his best result of the weekend, sprinting to 8th place. 

In U16, two U15 riders managed to sneak away, leaving the main bunch to fight for the minor places. David Harrington worked hard to pull the second group on the road home.

So a fantastic weekend of racing. Big thanks to the club for the (first ever!) use of the brand new club car, and for supporting our fantastic youths. Thanks to the John Fox for helping so many of the kids with punctures, mechanical repairs and other professional help. And to all the parents for letting their kids hare around the roads at crazy speeds!