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Big 40 for Lakeside Wheelers

posted 8 Feb 2016, 05:59 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Shay O'Toole - Sun. 8th January 2016)   

Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar will celebrate its 40th birthday in some style on Friday, May 20th with a “Suits and Sparkles” themed dinner in the Mullingar Park hotel.

Team Cook Electric from the eighties
Since the spring of 1976 there has been a cycling club in Mullingar and despite a name change along the way it has remained the same club for the last 40 years with many of the original members still involved today.
In 1975, the now defunct Tour of Ireland rolled into Mullingar for a stage finish with the winner being none other than the great Sean Kelly. This was one of Kelly’s last races as an amateur before he turned professional and went on to dominate world cycling for several years. The arrival of Kelly and this prestigious race into Mullingar was the inspiration for the formation of a cycling club in the town and to this day the sport has continued to develop and thrive. So much so, that Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar is now one of Ireland’s largest cycling clubs and has been named Cycling Ireland Club of the Year on no less than three occasions since its inception. It is also ironic that in recent weeks the club has seen one of its members also turn to the professional ranks, with Damien Shaw joining the An Post-Chainreaction Sean Kelly team.

In the past 40 years the club has gone through various periods where interest in cycling was akin to an economic profile of peaks and troughs. In the late 1990’s there was a change of name from Mullingar Cycling Club to Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar. This change came about in order to reflect the growing membership which was now coming from the greater Mullingar area and in some cases even further afield. There was also an increased interest in what is often termed “leisure” cycling as opposed to open racing, and this led to many members entering endurance events such as the Cooperation North Maracycle, the Wicklow 200 and eventually the club’s own annual sportive, the Tour of the Lakes. 
It wasn’t long before the new members also began exploring different disciplines within the sport of cycling and we now have several members involved in mountain-biking, downhill racing and most recently, cyclocross racing. All of these disciplines can be enjoyed at a fun or competitive level and everybody is encouraged to participate.

In tandem with these developments the club still maintained a healthy involvement in the national road racing scene staging a Grand Prix or Two-Day race most years. In recent times this involvement was raised a notch or two with the club’s hosting of the National Criterium Championships in 2011 and 2012. Owing to the success of these events the club applied to promote the biggest one day race on the Irish cycling calendar, the National Road Racing Championships which were staged in Rochfortbridge and Multyfarnham in 2014. Despite a very tragic road traffic accident which led to the postponement of the Ladies and Vets races, these championships were widely recognised as the most successful to date.

With successive committees never wanting to stand still there was always a great desire to push the boundaries and develop the club as much as possible. For many years these administrations were kept busy catering for an ever growing membership, ensuring groups were safe on the road, running events and putting recognised structures of club management in place. The last committee continued this trend and reached another milestone in the club’s history with the acquisition of a clubhouse.

So, with all of this work complete, it is now time to celebrate the amazing achievements of the last four decades and plans are well under way for Friday May 20th when we will mark the occasion of the club’s 40th anniversary. Preparation is already at an advanced stage as event organisers are planning to have a couple of special guests in attendance on the night. This will be an ideal opportunity for members past and present to come together to remember the old days and to look forward to the future, so, make sure to mark Friday, May 20th in your diary.

The committee has asked Jack Nugent, Carmel Buckley, Louise McCarra, Geraldine Kennedy and Cathy O’Toole to oversee the organisation of this celebration and it is hoped that all members will be in attendance for what promises to be THE social highlight of the year.