World Police and Fire Games Belfast 2013
1st to the 10th of August 2013 the WPFG were held in Belfast Northern Ireland with 6,500 competitors from all over the World taking part in 56 different sports.
Dean Cummings and Barrie Mcgregor (Cwmcarn) were representing the SWP Cycling Section in the Road Race and Criterium in 50-54yrs age group. Following our arrival we registered at the event HQ near the Titanic Quarters and were given our Athletes Travel Pass and other documents to assist us in our visit. Our accommodation was the Queens University Halls of residence situated 3 miles south of the City which was full of International Athletes. There was the real feeling that we were part of a major event.
The RR was held on Saturday 3rd August at Carrick Fergus using a regular RR circuit used by local Cycling Clubs .The 18 mile route had all the ingredients for a good race but disappointingly the US organizers had restricted the events to one lap for the over 45 and two for the under 45 `s .
A special train was put on for the Athletes to travel the 12miles North the event HQ which left Belfast at 07.15 hrs packed with 161 male and 15 Female riders’ bikes and all. An early opportunity to see what we may be up against..
The Race HQ was the local Leisure Centre, early on we could see that we could be up against some class riders .All the big cycling nations were represented Spain , France , Germany ,Netherlands USA, Colombia, Australia as well as Russia ,Norway ,Sweden ,Brazil and Mexico a real international feel. Also present were riders from several different Fire departments from the U.S and Canada . Chicago, Arizona, New York, New Jersey the list is endless.
The Race started with a roll out of over 90 riders from the HQ into the main streets where a large crowd had started to gather, past the start /finish line and off. An uphill section to start followed by a long slightly down hill flat section along the Coastal Road, boosted by a stiff tailwind. Surprisingly the pace was quick but quite steady it seemed that everyone was “keeping their powder dry “before the big climb.
A speedy left fork in the Road was negotiated and a couple of riders put the hammer down on the start of a one and a half mile steady climb but the race stayed together. A short time later a stinging little climb followed by sharp ninety degree left hand turn stretched the bunch out but moments later it was all back together at the start of the long five mile climb. A couple of attacks came from the front of the bunch and as the road gradually kicked up and up it started to cause a few problems in the bunch . In-form Barrie Mcgregor went over the top in a strong position in the main group of 13 riders I was in a second group which fractured going over the next rise. I chased hard along the two to three mile undulating Top Road pulling in the group of Four Riders .The main bunch were making progress and pulled away ,followed by the group of four. I almost bridged the gap before this group went over the final rise and onto a long fast descent. I chased down at speeds of over 40mph but was unable to close the gap before the final left hand turn and into the finishing straight. As I approached the final bend I could see and hear the crowds cheering the other riders, with the road closed I took the sweeping left hander at full speed and onto the finishing straight, as I crossed the line just seconds behind the group in front I sat up and applauded the large crowd who had made the effort to attend.
Barrie Mcgregor had just missed out in the sprint and came in 4th in our age group and I finished 10th with both in the top 20 of the main Race.
The Criterium was held on the evening of Monday 5th August and the magnificent setting of Stormont Castle was the backdrop to the circuit that included Ten 90 degree turns a downhill and uphill section passing the start finish line. The races were age catagorised and we were in the 50-59 event.
During the preparation and warm up before the Race we started to get the feel for the event with a large crowd gathering behind the barriers who had been to view other sports at the venue earlier that day ,it was quite a spectacle .
Having already met some of our competitors in the previous event we had an idea who to keep an eye on. We lined up at the monument and received our instructions of 25 minutes and 3 laps and having seen the 60 to 69 yrs group I knew it was going to be fast.
We followed the motorcycle for one neutralized lap and as we passed the start finish line we were off to a blistering pace started by a Spanish and Northern Ireland rider who created a gap very quickly .Early on I heard to commentator saying “The race is on for 3rd Place “ and right he was ,it was flat out with another strong Spanish Rider pushing the pace ,positions chopped and changed as the riders on maximum effort were lifted by the cheering crowds and our names being called out by the commentator ,with 10minutes to go I was in 5th spot behind a German and the Spaniard praying I could keep it there to the end .I kept this position as long as I could the. The Race continued at max effort and as time went on stronger riders created gaps on the tight bends and uphill sections .Spurred on by the crowds we sprinted up the Hill the last time and finished exhausted. We both agreed that we couldn’t have given any more.
Later while sharing a Guinness with our new friends the official results were relayed. A German rider came in 3rd Barrie finished 8th and I was 10th once again. A truly great event
Later that evening we shared more Guinness, Irish whiskey and more Guinness with some of the other riders reliving the competitions of the day.
More photos from the Games can be seen in the Photo Gallery.
The next Games are to be held in
Photos of both events can be found on Flickr.com
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