When Sean Kelly first began cycling he trained with the local cycling group in Carrick on Suir. Throughout his career and multiple years as the Worlds Number One cyclist he continued to train with the local group whenever he was at home. Now that he is retired from competition, in between Eurosport commentating duties he continues to train with the very same local cycling group. This morning was no different.
The group gathers outside the Super Value Car Park, next to the site of the old ESB Offices which Joe Hahessy elegantly described in his prose about the cycling group ‘Down at the ESB’
The King rolls up on his Vitus and immediately launches into a question to the group. ‘Did anyone hear about the Magicians missus winning a heap of money?’ he says ‘ I heard it up at the pool last night’ (‘The pool’ is the Sean Kelly Sports centre which was named after the towns most famous son)
By the time the Magician arrives the whole group are convinced that his other half has come into the money, to the bewilderment of the magician himself. A day of confusion lay ahead for him as he swung from thoughts of a new groupset and set of wheels, to thoughts that the lads are only messing, and back to thoughts of that new groupset again. Wise council suggested that he not use the credit card until she comes home from work, just to be on the safe side.
Kelly signs two Sean Kelly Custom Bikewear Jerseys for Malachy MacCarthy and Naas CC. Both prizes for a competition held last Sunday at The Irish Heart Foundation Sean Kelly Tour of The midlands. Then we hit the road.
Today the ‘Dole gang’, as Kelly always calls the Wednesday gang number in the high teens. Some are happy to smile for the camera whilst others don sunglasses, balaclavas and try their best to avoid being photographed. Some are supposed to be at work, others are supposed to be out looking for work. The most shy have wives who think they are at work.
The Dungarvan road towards the Comeragh mountains is the chosen route, with a mention of a visit to the seaside. Some who hear this think of ice creams whilst most think of the brutality and beauty of Coast road. If the wind is against you down there you will suffer. Of that there is no doubt.
Approaching Dungarvan Kelly shouts for the group to turn right, towards the centre of the town. He goes to the front and expertly guides the group through the traffic. No problems as long as you hold the wheel. Let a gap grow and you will be chasing for 5k on the other side of town.
Now we are heading towards Youghal but take a sharp left and alter our direction towards the Gaeltacht area of Ring on our own personal Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford.
We find ourselves facing a steep damp drop off. Kelly of course cycles down, whilst most others carry their bikes gingerly down the slope.
A photo stop is called by some on such a beautiful day, whilst others dive for cover on the opposite side of the camera.
On the way back passing a small harbour Kelly reminisces about a day that a Belgian TV crew came over and it was decided that a few shots of him out on the water aboard a small fishing boat would make for great TV. It was a bad day and there was a huge swell on the sea. He says that he got a small bit sick although the others were a bit worse. Reading between the lines. If Kelly, a very good traveller, at the height of his powers and physical prowess was sea sick, the camera crew must have been close to needing to be airlifted from the boat.
Back into Dungarvan and whilst at the front of the group Kellys’ phone rings. He answers and has a conversation whilst the speed never dropped so much as half a k per hour.
Roadworks on The Pike slow the group but it’s not long until the steady momentum builds again. With this group, if you are there regularly you get used to the pace. New riders tend to suffer and this happened today when the Pike claimed a victim and the Apple Green in Leamybrien gained a new customer.
On over ‘The Haysheds’ and down towards Carrick there was no injection of pace today. At this time of year it’s all about just getting the miles in the legs in the company of a few friends.
Carrick reappeared on the horizon and another good and enjoyable day on the bike came to an end.
During the summer the end of the spin is a little less subdued. Here is a taste of that kind of day
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