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There's More to Leisure Cycling Than You Might Think!

posted 18 Jan 2011, 11:02 by Kevin Monaghan
(By Sarah Piner)
This week’s interview was with Dermot Hogan with an emphasis on the leisure riding side of the wheelers. I knew very little about the amount of work that is put into leisure riding other than the odd e-mail about 8 hour training spins up and down the cut a few times (which I quickly delete or ignore!). However if you read on you will like me discover there is more to leisure riding than leisure…

Firstly Dermot what is your sporting background?
My sport was Rugby and I also did a lot of running, mountain running and orienteering. I was always into sport and have cycled on and off for over thirty years. I did a few events before I joined the Wheelers, Into the West in 2006 where I was fortunate to meet several Wheelers Shay O’Toole, Padraig Devine, Mark Horohoe and Cathy Flynn to name a few. Of course Joe Duffy encouraged me to join the Wheelers, ‘Into the West and into the Wheelers!’ My first into the West was on a classic bike which with thanks to John Kenny in the week leading up to the event was restored and made ready to ride.

What was your first leisure event outside of Into the West?
Well again Joe Duffy is to thank for this one, Joe did a fantastic job of organising for 8 Wheelers to ride the ‘Vatternrundan’ in Sweden, which is the largest mass participation leisure event, 18,000 participants let off in small groups around the clock. We had our training done, or so we thought! We had not prepared for the sleep deprivation we would face due to starting our 300km spin at 1.20 in the morning! So as I lay on the floor of the van trying to get a bit of sleep before we headed off I had to ask the question, what has Joe done?!

That leads nicely onto my next question, your most memorable cycling event?
Yes the Vatternrundan stands out for the level of challenge we had to face as a group, and the image of cyclists stretching ahead into the distance, rear lights as far as you could see at 1am. It was a fantastically organised event, hard work but enjoyable.

For me so far the ‘big’ event has to be the Marmotte, a challenge in the French Alps which was tackled and completed by 14 wheelers in 2009. The big push for entering the event and indeed a lot of the hard work planning and preparing for the event came from Robbie Kenny and Charlie Sheridan (who had completed the event previously). Both took the time to research the route and make sure we knew what we were facing. Cathy Flynn saw the potential in participating in events in Ireland to help with our training, after all we had a lot of climbing to do. We sought the help of people like Sean Magee, John Culligan, Jim Marshall, Arthur Dempsey and Co to keep us company on the longer days in the saddle. It was a real accomplishment to finish the event, Robbie flew round in eight and a half hours and then rest of us came in after in pairs or alone. But the main thing was we all completed the distance with temperatures up to 39 degrees, needless to say that was something we were not used too.
Dermot, as a competitive person tell me what went wrong for you in 2009 and how you changed your approach to Marmotte 2010?
Yes I felt I hadn’t done myself justice in 2009, I like the rest of the wheelers found the heat really difficult to cope with. I decided to go back in 2010 to see if I could beat my previous time.

It was clear you were more focused in your training approach last year, what did you do differently?
Well I sought advice from people like Robbie Kenny and Mark Horohoe, the training plan that Mark and the guys had done for the club was already what I was looking for but I just changed a few bits to suit my goal. I trained specifically for the Marmotte and yes it paid off! I got the Silver award for my age group and beat my 2009 time.

With your experience of leisure riding in Ireland and abroad what will you be entering next year and what do you recommend to your fellow wheelers?
There are loads of events in Ireland to choose from, the An Post series is up there. The organisation was fantastic, there were rides from 10km to 160km to suit a family cycle up to someone looking for more of a challenge. The wheelers were in good attendance at the An Post series last year, we had father and daughter Dave and Erin Bryne at one event and hopefully again in 2011. There is a really interesting and very tough Audax event run by Sorrento Cycling Club, the Mick Byrne 200, with lots of climbing! The Wicklow 100km and 200km will be on again of course, Sean Magee is the best advert for Wicklow having completed 10 of the 200km events! The Etape Skyride closed road event in Co Clare was great, well run and a big plus when it came to cornering and descending. I’m also looking at the Marmotte again!

Thank you Dermot, last question! – What would you say to someone thinking about joining the wheelers?
Go for it, enjoy the club and there is a friendly group for everyone and a competitive group if your looking for some race training.
Demot in action on a fast Alpine descent.