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Under The Spotlight - Mick Reynolds

posted 31 Jan 2011, 15:13 by Kevin Monaghan

With the race season just around the corner I decided to have a chat with Mick Reynolds, he is one of the clubs more experienced cyclists having competed as a junior in the 80's. He regularly helps with the new training groups and juniors and trains with the A or B group on Sunday spins. 
I personally have great respect for Mick as a talented cyclist and as someone who gave me the confidence to race and who helped me from day one. When I joined the wheelers in 2007 It was with the definite intention to race so perhaps foolishly I promoted myself to the A group. There were many occasions when Mick would have pushed me back up to the group after I dropped off the back, I’m sure he was thinking I should not be out with the big guns but he sacrificed his training to help me and insisted that one day with some proper training I would be strong enough!
Mick, tell me about starting cycling?
I started cycling in 1981 when I qualified to represent Westmeath in the U16 Community Games finals held annually then in Butlins in Co Meath. Albert Morris was the official at the Westmeath final and he convinced me after the race to come out and train with the Mullingar Cycling Club of which he was Chairman. Albert organised a club league and a few of us raced around the Cloughan route. Its funny because a few of the lads that were in the cycling club back then are still cycling, David Shaw, Noel Delaney and Paddy Ronan.
I rode the final in Butlins on David Shaw’s bike as mine was an old gate! David and Martin Queenan came to Butlins to cheer me on. I raced against many established riders that day and finished in the top 10 happy with my days racing. That was my first real taste of competitive racing and I loved it – the bug had bitten!
So you started racing at a National level?
Yes, over the course of the next 2 years I raced as an U16 and a junior as often as I could but racing was very much dependant on whom I could scab a lift from. With only a couple of lads racing it was invariably Joe Shaw (David’s Dad) or Paddy Ronan who obliged. There were only a handful of lads racing including David Shaw, Donnacha Coll and Eddie Cooney. In 1983 the four of us competed in the Gorey 3 day. My abiding memory is that it snowed on the Easter Sunday stage and we were frozen with the cold. Donnacha abandoned the stage and used up all the hot water before the rest of got back to the B & B! Also in the club that year were a young Fergal Conlon, Barney Flynn and Paddy Ronan.

So the cycling club was growing?
Well 1984 was a bad year with several of the lads hanging up the wheels leaving only myself, and Fergal Conlon in the club. We did however compete in a Triathlon run in Mullingar by a certain Joe Duffy. I raced for Kenny’s cycles and was delighted to finish joint first with Louis Kenny a talented Marathon runner.

Joe Duffy got involved with the cycling club then?
Yes Joe had organised such a great race that I approached him a few days later and convinced him to give us a hand with the Cycling Club. Joe, the late Barney Conlon and John Kenny of Kenny Cycles between them drove us to races the following year. Noel Delaney came back racing and we competed in many races in 1986 including the Gorey 3 day won by Sean Lally.

Over the course of the next 2 to 3 years Joe worked his magic, got a few good organisers into the club and before we knew it Mullingar Cycling was sponsored by CookElectric and won Club of the year in the late eighties. The hard work that brought the success at that time was put in by Joe, Kevin Monaghan, Seamus McGowan, Liam Kenny and Billy Smyth. A whole host of underage talent was unearthed by cycling skills training and inter schools competitions. The club had a club mini-bus with a bike trailer and bike rack. We had to almost fight to get a place on the bus going to races! My two brothers Dermot and Ken started cycling too and our house was often like a madhouse with bikes and gear everywhere. My father used to say that the bikes cost more to maintain than the family car!

You continued racing?
Between 1986 and 1991 during the Kelly Roche era there was lots of racing going on around the country. But soon after popularity dwindled and underage members in the cycling club were moving on to college or work. There were still a few wheelers meeting including a young Kevin Marshall! I did a little racing with a one day licence every now and again.
In 1997 we became the Lakeside Wheelers bringing together cyclists from the surrounding area, the emphasis at this stage had become more leisure based.

You must be happy to see the success the club is having now with racing?
Of course it’s great to see a senior team racing, previously we only had the juniors and underage. Every week you see Lakeside Wheelers winning one day races or placing highly in the stage races against some of Ireland’s top teams. I can see the future of the wheelers going really well from a racing perspective, new talented riders like Mark O’Hara and Damien Shaw are doing a great job nationally and hopefully internationally.

Last question! – The key to success for the club?
The club is built on a very solid foundation where members are encouraged to step up to the mark and take responsibility for the direction and vision of their club. We are one of the most successful clubs in Ireland and the second largest which is real progress…

Thank you Mick!
Mick (left) with some of his Cook Electric team-mates back in the mid eighties.