Cyclists in Northern Ireland can claim to be the fastest in the United Kingdom - and some of the quickest in the world! End-of-year statistics produced by social network Strava have revealed that the fastest place in the UK during 2016 was Newtownards in County Down - with riders (men and women combined) averaging 25.4kph (15.78mph).
Cyclists travelling through the town have been ramping up their speed, leaving many of their European and world counterparts in their wake. Northern Ireland dominated the UK figures, with Ards, Banbridge and Coleraine claiming the top three spots when it came to average speed. Ards secured the Yellow jersey with their 25.4kph pace, while Banbridge came in with an average speed of 25.2kph, and Coleraine just behind on 24.5kph.
Cyclists enjoy the scenic surroundings of the Ards Peninsula and Strangford Lough. Local clubs including Ards CC, North Down, Killinchy, 0745 Rouleurs and Dave Kane boast healthy memberships, while visiting clubs are also attracted to the area including Belfast-based Phoenix CC.
Banbridge is another town passionate about its cycling, with clubs including Banbridge CC, Velo Club Iveagh, Team Vision Racing CC and West Down Wheelers, while surrounding clubs like Dromara CC also enjoy training runs in the area. Active clubs in the Coleraine area would include Bann Wheelers, Ballymoney CC and Dunloy CC.
The UK’s average speed for men was 25.61kph (15.9mph), finishing second behind the Netherlands who clocked up an average speed of 26.92kph (16.72mph). The United Kingdom still finished ahead of the USA, Spain, France and Germany. British women came sixth in their table with an average of 19.84kph (12.32mph).
Northern Ireland also dominated the longest average rides in the UK. Banbridge was top with an average of 44.9km. Ards was second with 44km while Newry and Mourne came third with 43.5km.
Newtownards’ table-topping success shouldn’t come as a major surprise. The area is a hot-bed for cyclists, and has produced its own cycling heroes including 2013 UCI Scratch Race World champion Martyn Irvine who also won a silver medal in the same event the following year. In 1990 Olympic champion Chris Boardman and Individual Pursuit World champion and World hour record holder Graeme Obree went head-to-head in a TT race hosted by Ards CC. This year the Tour of Ulster hosted a stage in Newtownards, while two of the fastest Open races were also held along the Peninsula - the Tour of Ards and the North Down GP.
Cycling is in Newtownards’ DNA. See.Sense is proud to share the area's passion for all things two-wheeled having been based in the town since we opened in 2013. During that time we have been keeping cyclists safer on the roads - not only in Ards, but in over 50 countries throughout the world.
Cycling in Northern Ireland is buzzing at present. The legacy of the Giro d’Italia 'Big Start' in 2014 - and the subsequent Gran Fondo events - has witnessed an upsurge in people getting on their bikes and adopting pedal power. Companies like See.Sense and Chain Reaction Cycles - who are also based in Northern Ireland - have enjoyed helping raise the profile of cycling over the past year - as a sport, a hobby and as a fantastic mode of transport.
But we will leave the last word to one of our Twitter followers (@fitandforttyman) who was happy to attribute some of Northern Ireland’s cycling success to See.Sense...