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David Fagan - European & Worlds Duathlon Specialist

posted 10 Oct 2011, 09:09 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 10 Oct 2011, 09:12 ]
(By Sarah Piner)  
I have had a chat with Dave Fagan this week about his Cycling / Triathlon / Duathlon career so far, how he started and the plans for the future! I’m sure you are all aware of who Dave is, a hard working member of the committee and figures regularly in the race reports particularly after his successful season 2011.

Dave only starting cycling three years ago and has since become an integral part of the racing team, a real team player always prepared to put in the effort to chase the next break down for his team leader or indeed make the sandwiches after!! – Dave starting cycling later in life and his achievements are therefore more impressive, I won’t give you Dave’s age although he did compete in the 45- 49 age group in the World Championships!! That can only serve as a motivation to current club members or indeed potential club members, Dave is more than able to ride in the scratch group with the likes of Damien Shaw, Steven Franzoni and Stuey Cox. So if you think you are not able to give racing or leisure riding a go then think again!! – Also Dave pointed out that there were men and women of 80 years + on the podium in Gijon!!!
Dave, what is your sporting background?
I would mainly have an equestrian background and I also windsurfed for about 25 years, but I also smoked! As far as cycling goes it was out of necessity not for leisure. I also played a little squash and ran for general fitness. I was really looking for an outlet having worked hard for 15 years!
So when did you decide that cycling as a sport was for you?
I bought my first bike (Giant mtb) in Coynes Cycles in Kinnegad in late 2007 to get fit for a charity trek in Borneo, the following October, in aid of the WSPCA. I was running with the Mullingar Harriers at this stage and really enjoying it, so much so that I made the mistake of most “born-again athletes” and ended up with shin splints, which progressed to a stress fracture and this put an end to my running for over a year.

And when did you decide to become a Wheeler?Well next I joined the Midland Triathlon Club, in Feb 2008 and decided that if I could not run for a while, that I could set about improving my swimming in the weekly club swim sessions in the Mullingar Pool.
Here I met some very friendly and enthusiastic athletes including Gerry who invited me to join a few of them for a bike spin the following morning (6am !!!!).

To say it nearly killed me, would be an understatement but I did return after 70 km, exhausted (just watching Gerry heading off for a further 3 hour session) but totally hooked on the cycling and decided that I had better join the LAKESIDE WHEELERS to improve my cycling skills.  The following Wednesday evening, I ventured down to the greyhound track car park and met up with the Wheelers. I was very impressed at the manner in which I was welcomed into the club and set off on my first club ride with legends such as the Reynolds brothers, Marteen Savage, Robbie Kenny, Pete Coroon and others.

You have had fantastic success this year, particularly with your Duathlon results in both the European and World Championships. Tell us about getting there!With Limerick hosting the European Duathlon Championships in April 2011, I made duathlon my priority this year and started competing in January, through to the National Championships in Burnfoot, in March and Europeans in April and then qualified for the Worlds in Spain in September. The training schedule went well during the summer, with bike races and triathlons most weekends and only a minor setback in July when I had to stop running for 5 weeks due to a minor knee injury. It is great to have a dedicated triathlon shop like “Tri and Run” in Mullingar and I have a well worn path to Dor Duffy’s door for running gear and compression supports and foam rollers and more.

I flew out to Gijon with my good friend and cycling buddy Paul Crowley on the Thursday before the race and am indebted to him for all the support he gave me.  We brought out 2 bikes, safely secured in POLARIS bike boxes, rented from Steve Franzoni, in Outdoor Escape (brilliant boxes..Check them out) and rented a Berlingo van, courtesy of Ann Hamill, for the transfer journey (fitted 3 bodies seated and 3 bike boxes, plus luggage no problem). We put the van to good use after the race and went touring up the mountains for two days.

We had two days to settle in and race the course and get our bearings. The event consisted of a 10 km run, followed by a 40 km bike ride and finished with a 5 km run.
The run was over a 2.5 km circuit and relatively flat. The bike course consisted of 2 laps of a 20km circuit with a good road surface (no pot holes out here !) and on closed roads. The first 5 k was flat, the second 5k was a continuous climb and quite steep in places. This was followed with a fast decent over another 5 k, negotiating some pretty hairy turns but we were allowed to cross the white line. The last 5k was flat and involved no less than 5 roundabouts and a turnaround point (180 degree) on the promenade.

On the morning of the race we got the muesli and eggs, toast and marmalade into the fuel tank by 7.15am and having racked my TT bike in transition the evening before (compulsory), left the hotel at 7.45 having the luxury of a second bike to get a good warm up around the city on deserted streets and also to transport me the 3 km to the start line.
At 8.45am we were allowed into transition to make last minute adjustments to our bikes and memorise our location among the other one thousand bikes.

There were 10 other athletes competing from Ireland and we were fortunate to have a team manager, Ditch Moore, along from Triathlon Ireland.

How did the race itself go?
Dave in action in Gijon
I set off in the 3rd wave at 10.10am with 120 other athletes battling for position around half a lap of a racing stadium before exiting out onto the streets of Gijon. The group soon thinned out and I got into my stride. I tried to find someone as soon as possible to pace off for the first run and establish a good position in the group. I knew that I could not keep up with the 34 min, 10k runners but could be pulled along with the 36 min runners. This is based totally on perceived effort, as I don’t wear a watch in races. That way I should be reasonably fresh getting on the bike and in a position to chase down the fast runners.

I settled into the bike section quickly and was soon making up places. It was wonderful to have Paul and a growing contingent of Irish supporters cheering from the side-lines at strategic locations along the course. I got my gels in, one at the start, middle and end of the bike course and rehydrated along the way.
In lap 2, I started to pass athletes from the waves ahead of me and despite this lift, I knew that there were still athletes from my age group ahead and I pressed on even harder (finishing 6th on the bike)

Got back into T2 and had spun on the way in to free up my legs for the final run. This is where I made my first mistake. Ran in smoothly with bike and even passed few, found my row relatively deserted and racked my bike on 725 and bent down to put on my runners only to find same make and colour but different colour laces and to compound things there were 2 or 3 other similar pairs nearby but not mine.
Kept the head and found mine under 735 (my number), re racked my bike and exited on the run, having lost a hard earned 1 minute.

The legs felt good on the second run and in the knowledge that I would soon be running up the blue carpet pressed on amid support from all the nationalities (even “Come on GB and the IRISH”) The run course was full of all age categories at this stage, but I managed to pick off 4 more from my age category, before entering the stadium for the last time and through the gantry in front of a full stadium.

If I could bottle that feeling, that you get after crossing the line on such an occasion, no money could buy it, because it is so unique and only experienced when you set yourself a challenge and complete it, whether it be your first club race, duathlon, triathlon, ironman or even deca ironman …what a rush. Team Ireland secured 2 bronze medals …Anne Paul from Northern Ireland (F45-49) and Cian Delaney from Dublin (25-29) and 9th overall.

That was clearly an amazing feeling, but what would you rate as your biggest achievement yet?You can’t beat winning with your home crowd cheering you on so the Mullingar criterium race that I won this year would be well up there! A great feeling!

Any plans for next year?
I would like to go back to both the European and World Duathlon championships & improving my time trialling would also be on the agenda for 2012!

Thank you Dave, one last question – your sporting hero?

I would have to go with Tom Simpson, because he was a little crazy!

Dave Fagan (right) celebrates following the 2011 world duathlon

Dave Fagan (right) celebrates following the 2011 world duathlon