VCI Awards Night 2021

With no awards night last year, thanks to Covid restrictions, it was great to get a night out together as a club to reflect on the last two years. For a change of scenery this year, the venue was the Belmont House Hotel in Banbridge. We would like to thank the Belmont for hosting us – the food was outstanding. Thanks also to Tim for organising the evening.

After enjoying a meal, we moved on to the awards part of the evening. As has become customary, we handed over to Club Chairman Davy Cartmill for a “brief” summary of some of the activities the club had been involved with over the past two years, as well as the achievements of some of the individuals within the club. Again, our thanks to Davy for the work he put into the presentation and of course for the effort he puts in throughout the year, fulfilling his role as chairman.

Summer League Winner 2020/2021 – Tim Dodds/William Strain/Ian Warnock

With the restrictions on events hitting sportives particularly harshly, this one was a tough one to call and was therefore awarded to the three riders who had completed the most sportives. Tim and William both completed the Audax Ireland Fermanagh 200 and the Lakelander Gravel Grinder, while Ian completed the Tour of Monaghan (hosted by Emyvale CC) and the David Catherwood Memorial Sportive (hosted by Cycle 4 Christ). Ian would undoubtedly have secured this trophy had his plan to complete the North Coast 500 gone ahead, but unfortunately a hand injury put a halt to this…until next year. Hopefully, as restrictions continue to ease, we will again see this trophy hotly contested in 2022.

Unfortunately, Ian was unable to attend the awards night.

Newcomer of the Year 2020/2021 – Geoff Harrison

Geoff joined the club back at the end of the first lockdown in 2020, attending the midweek social rides and the Sunday Bun Runs. While he consistently attended these runs in 2020, there was always a feeling that he was holding something back. However, after a solid winter of training we have seen a new and revamped Geoff Harrison for 2021, who has been showing some real grit and determination. When coming up the Scarva drag at the end of a ‘social’ spin, it’s been great to see Geoff with the bit between his teeth! Geoff has also stepped up to represent the club at some of the events in the Banbridge Interclub Race League, showing that he is a great all-rounder and willing to get involved in every aspect of the club. He has also been a real stalwart of the Sunday Club Run throughout 2021. Looking forward to see what 2022 has in store!

Race League Winner 2020/2021 – James Dane

With no format for club races in 2020, the Race League Winner was decided based on results during the Banbridge Interclub Race League in 2021. James took part in 8 out of the 10 events (from memory he was injured/revovering for the other 2) and was first in the club for 5 of those events and second for the other 3. These fantastic results included a mixture of Hill Climbs, Time Trials, where James has made huge leaps forward and Road Races, where he has built on the success of previous seasons and is consistently mixing it up with some of the strongest riders in the area – taking 2nd place in the Road Race of his home circuit has to be up there with some of his top achievements over the past two seasons!

Most Improved Rider 2020/2021 – Peter Elliott

Pete was another rider who joined us soon after the easing of the initial lockdown restrictions in 2020. From the start, he showed a lot of ability, but not one to be content with being just relatively fast on a bike, he has put in a huge amount of effort to strive to be the best. From the start of 2021, he take out a competitive racing license and secured a podium spot at his first ever race – the Annaclone GP. With so many races being cancelled, Pete travelled far and wide to find races, consistently placing and earning points towards an upgrade, which eventually came over the summer – just in time to allow him to race the John Beggs Memorial race as an A3 rider. We’re all looking forward to see how Pete will fare in 2022, where the A3 race format will likely suit him even better.

Rider of the Year 2020/2021 – Stephen Hanna

The Rider of the Year trophy is voted for by club members in recognition of one rider who has raised the bar for the rest of us. This year there was a very clear winner, none other than Stephen Hanna. Stevie enjoyed considerable success as a youth rider and only started riding again a couple of years ago. During this time, he has improved consistently, but this hasn’t come easily – while he has retained the tactical prowess from his youth, which helped him advance quickly from A4 to A3, getting back into a position where he could be competitive at A3 standard took considerable effort. Stevie’s form has been fantastic all year and like Pete he has had to travel the length and breadth of Ireland at times to get a race – most of these have been worth travelling to however, as he has racked up the points bit by bit. Stevie’s season culminated in an impressive victory at the Hugo Loughran GP, which earned him an upgrade to A2. We’d be doing Stevie a dis-service however to suggest that he was voted Rider of the Year purely for his results on the bike – he is also a fantastic encourager, motivator and mentor to many in the club – never one to ‘put the hurt’ into someone if they’re struggling, he’d be more inclined to put a hand on their back and push them home.

Clubman of the Year 2020/2021 – David Cartmill

Again, this award is voted on by members of the club, in recognition of someone who has gone above and beyond on/off the bike. Not for the first time, the winner this year, as voted for by our members, was our club chairman Davy Cartmill. Davy is one of the founding members of the club, so it’s fair to say that the club would never have originated without Davy, but it’s also fair to say that the club wouldn’t be where it is today without Davy and his constant churning along behind the scenes. He’s certainly the ‘Mr Consistent’ of VC Iveagh – rarely one to miss a club run, regardless of weather or any injuries he may be carrying. Reflecting back on our own race league over the last season, Davy narrowly missed out on third place – not because he was always at the pointy end of the results, but just because he was always there doing his bit, whether on the bike pushing himself to the limit, or off the bike ensuring that the event could go ahead safely. One night which really sets Davy apart from most of us was the Hill Climb in Tandragee – Davy had cycled over and was in a lot of pain due to a fractured rib; we were already a few riders down and knew that Davy’s result would have little bearing on the overall results for the night; however despite being told to go home, Davy pushed on and completed the hill climb anyway. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but it goes some way to illustrating how Davy feels about the club. Hopefully this award will go some way to showing him how the club feels about our “Lord Mayor of Bessbrook, Sir Davy Cartmill.”

Thanks to Tim for presenting the award, on behalf of the club.

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