Living in Clonmel, often someone who knows that you are ‘into cycling’ will ask ‘Do you go out with that big gang of cyclists that come up from Carrick and pass through town every Sunday morning ?’
With a sense of pride I always reply that ‘yes, I am part of that cycling gang’
What makes that Carrick cycling gang special are the riders themselves. They are an eclectic mix of butchers and block layers, bakers and soldiers, teachers and engineers, Woodsmen and Television commentators. Some work in factories and some work at home. Some are self employed and some are unemployed. Out on the bike all are the same and all are important to the group as a whole. They are your friends who like to watch you suffer but would cycle 20k out of their way to get you home. They will laugh when you fall off but will rush to pick you up. They will slag you off for the smallest infraction but will defend you to the hilt. To a man, and the odd woman, they are the best group that you could ever belong to.
Today, our gang had 25 leaving Carrick. Touched 50 by Clonmel and was down to 10 by the time Carrick was seen again, after covering 120k at an average speed of 34kph. Facing a long road home alone I was delighted when 6 of the lads said they would ride as far as Kilsheelan with me. Leslie had been in work at 4.10am this morning until 8.30 getting the Super Value Butcher counter ready for a busy day with demand high for Barbecue meats. On the bike since 9, I didn’t expect him to come up the road, but he did. Keith, Mike, ‘Nana’, Mark and Vinnie all came too. These men are hard as nails and never shy back from a challenge.
And that is part of what makes a Cycling Gang so special. With people who are willing to push themselves further, without looking for praise or making excuses, it makes you push yourself on further too. With people who share their food, their drinks, their knowledge and their humour you have the recipe for a great day spent with friends that you would never make off the bike. Being part of a cycling gang or club is being part of what’s best about life itself !