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What a week for the Wheelers

posted 21 Jun 2010, 15:22 by Kevin Monaghan
Wow, it’s difficult to pick an adjective to suitably describe the week that has just passed but for want of a better one, hectic will suffice, although it still is understated. Just to put things into some sort of perspective for those of you who were not around Mullingar this week or for some other reason did not know what was happening, June 13th saw the commencement of National Bike Week and Destination Sport Mullingar.

Lakeside Wheelers kicked off the last eight days with several members participating in the parade on Saturday, June 12th to launch Destination Sport Mullingar. This tested their bike handling skills to the limit as antique Penny Farthings and Enfields were the order of the day. We followed up on Monday with a kids cycling event in the beautiful surrounds of Belvedere House and Gardens where we entertained over 80 children with trail riding and some fun races. Next up was our main event on Wednesday evening as the town was closed off for the Expert, Mullingar Criterium. This attracted over 150 riders, some of whom are the best in Ireland and one professional rider, so the night’s racing was guaranteed to be of the highest standard. On Saturday, 7 of us boarded a bus bound for Dublin to support our girls in the Dublin City, Ladies Crit and to later watch the pros in the Halfords Pro-Tour series.  And finally, on Sunday June 20th we hosted the Cycling Ireland endurance team in Mullingar to officially complete their Round Ireland Challenge. This involved 25 Wheelers going in three separate directions to meet and escort a Cycling Ireland cyclist back to Mullingar for a gala reception on Dominick St. Throughout the week we also ran a turbo cycling challenge for the people of Mullingar to see how far they could cycle. This was managed by our own Craig Sterrett who was assisted by Daryl O’Toole and it proved to be a massive hit with the locals and visitors alike. Many thanks to Outdoor Escape bike shop for donating all the bikes and turbos for this event.

So, as you can see we were very busy and on top of this there were approximately 25 Wheelers down Kerry and Cork way on a social cycling weekend and another 15 in Clare for the An Post, Tour of the Burren. If this pace keeps up we will have to establish offices in various locations around the country and maybe even further afield as the big day for this year’s Marmotte crew draws ever closer. The following is compilation of short reports on some of this week’s events.

As part of our commitment to National Bike week Michelle and Robbie organised a night in Belvedere to commence our kids summer programme. Even though we were bathed in glorious sunshine we were astounded to see the numbers that turned out for what was a great evening of fun cycling. The kids ranged in age from about 3yrs to 15yrs and all enjoyed the safety of the trails around the outer grounds and then we finished off with a few races to satisfy the obvious hunger for speed and hills. Thanks to all the parents who brought their children out and especially for staying around to help supervise. Our next underage event is Monday 28th of June and you will be notified of the location via club text and email.

Expert Mullingar Criterium
Thankfully the sunshine stayed for the week and assisted us greatly in our flagship event which was the town centre race on Wednesday June 16th. The organisers got a surprise but welcome call, late on Wednesday evening from David O’Loughlin of the An Post Sean Kelly professional team who wanted to know if he could enter. Joe Duffy, our exceptional race director who we all know is never found wanting when it comes to promoting an event grabbed the opportunity with both hands and immediately we knew we were in for a special evening of racing. With over 150 riders signed up to race in categories A1 to A4 we set the evening off with a fun, Inter firms team time trial. This saw 15 teams of four riders each, take on two laps of the Crit circuit and gave several people the chance to race around the closed streets of Mullingar. The leading ladies on the night were led by our secretary, Carmel Buckley with Dave Tone from Rochfortbridge leading home the top mens team. We also had two junior teams sponsored by Days Bazaar and Kenny fuels who I believe caused controversy of a technical kind with their team managers unable to agree on the type of bikes for the event!!!! Fabien Cancellara wouldn’t hold a candle to our Robbie and Mick when it comes to equipment. And as an aside to all this, sure leave it to Mr Horohoe and his electric bike which made its maiden voyage last Sunday. I don’t know where this club is going at all at all??

Anyway, back to our first crit which brought 70 A4 riders including at least 15 Wheelers to the start line for 25 minutes of racing, and very soon got strung out leaving the strongest to fight for the line. Mark O’Hara got home in third with Damien Shaw barely losing out on fourth but getting a very creditable fifth. There were several great performances from many Wheelers and I’m sure more will want to start next year.
The A3 event brought the pace up another notch and after some great laps our own Paul Crowley sailed up Mount St to cross the line in first place which I think surprised no one more than himself. A fabulous result for Paul and one he will savour for a long time.

The last race was the blue riband A1+A2 category with some of Ireland’s top amateur cyclists in the field and as already mentioned Dave O’Loughlin, a Belgium based professional. This race brought the speed up to levels which left many of the non cycling spectators in absolute awe and amazement. What followed was an exhibition of talent and skill with the end result being a win for O’Loughlin who powered away from the main bunch to join a breakaway group and then outsprinted everyone to cross the line, arms aloft in true cycling fashion. The difference in class was evident but not accidental as shown on Friday night when Dave went on to win the Belfast round of the Halfords Pro-Tour series against several top professional riders. With talent like this wanting to compete on our streets it can only bode well for the future of the Lakeside Wheelers Criterium. Many thanks to Expert for their very generous sponsorship of the Criterium and hopefully we can grow this event into a national celebration of racing.

After the presentation ceremony the organisers could relax with a pint and look back on what was a very successful night of racing in Mullingar. However, events like this are extremely difficult to organise and take time, dedication and passion. Although a team effort is required, we in Lakeside Wheelers are absolutely blessed to have amongst us, a man who can marry all of these ingredients to produce what we all enjoyed on Wednesday night. Joe Duffy, take a bow for organising and managing an event that still has the people of Mullingar talking and no doubt the many riders who travelled to take part also.
Dublin City Criterium
On Saturday June 19th the city of Dublin came to a standstill to host the very popular Halfords professional crit series. In conjunction with this event Cycling Ireland organised a ladies race which was open to all categories. Lakeside Wheelers were represented by Sarah Franzoni and Wendy Bates who as usual were in the thick of the action for the whole race. It was a very cat and mouse type scenario but, with the bunch coming out of the last bend on Dame St having spent 30 minutes negotiating the cobbles of Temple Bar the two Wheelerettes were right in contention. Unfortunately, Sarah dropped her chain, probably due to the rattling from the cobbles which left Wendy sprinting uphill to claim a fabulous 2nd place in front of some of Ireland’s leading lady riders and to the noise from the many spectators banging the advertising boards. Congratulations Wendy, it was a great result for you and hopefully one which will be followed up very soon by a first. It was no fluke however, as both Sarah and Wendy had a fabulous one two for Wheelers the previous week in Navan, where Sarah edged out Wendy for first place, so keep up the good work girls and best of luck for the remainder of the summer.

The main race on Saturday night brought many top professional riders to Dublin including the aforementioned Dave O’Loughlin who was pipped in this event by Ireland’s Daniel Martin of the Garmin Transitions Pro Tour team. The speed of these lads around the 1.3km circuit had to be seen to be believed and considering many of the riders who enthralled us in Mullingar were lapped by Martin, it says it all. As I said earlier, Joe is never one to miss a chance and was straight over to Daniel literally as he got off his bike, to congratulate him but also to let him know that Wheelers would be delighted to have him in Mullingar in 2011. This man never stops promoting Lakeside Wheelers and cycling in Mullingar!!! Incidentally, as Daniel Martin removed his gloves it was clear to see the effects of his hour on the cobbles with his hands visibly shaking uncontrollably and with several friction cuts between his fingers. What must the Paris Roubaix do to these lads???

Youth News
Mark Eivers contacted me with the following notice re the welcome development of the junior racing scene in Lakeside Wheelers. Thanks Mark.

Due to the popularity of the Lakeside Wheelers youth development program and the constant scheduling of youth events it is now accepted that there is a core team of strong junior cyclists in the under 16 age group. In recent weeks these juniors have performed very well in the summer league races and more recently in the Criterium race and time trials. To further advance the youth development in the competition direction, the Lakeside Wheelers youth cyclists will enter their first official novice race event on 4th July in Palmerstown, Dublin. Robbie Kenny and Mick Reynolds will assist the youth team with race specific training over the coming weeks and details of the training events will be advised in the near future. Any children that are interested in joining the team/s for the 4th of July races should have one of their parents contact any club official for further information.


Well, that was the week that was and in one sense it is sad to see events that are months in the planning come and go but it is also a relief to see them off successfully and an opportunity to recharge. To finish, and on behalf of the committee may I say a huge thank you to all members who once again turned out in great numbers to support, marshal and assist with all of the above events. This week has seen the profile of Lakeside Wheelers rise to a level where the people of Mullingar and beyond now know why we are THE best cycling club in Ireland and it is all down to our members. Thanks and enjoy the sunshine.....from the saddle.  


Kevin Monaghan,
21 Jun 2010, 15:34