After the post on The Nissan Classic – through the eyes of a teenager, other cycling fans have been kind enough to share some of their memories and experiences, plus some great photos for others to enjoy :
Dave Allen had this super photo of King Kelly winning the first stage of the first ever Nissan Classic in 1985
Jason O’Brien had these fantastic photos of riders fighting their way up Seskin Hill the following day with Kelly now in yellow.
Great piece Barry, reminds me of the time my parents packed me into the car and made the trip from Birr to Kilkenny(I believe) to see the Nissan in ‘89. Not from a strong cycling background, we got the times wrong, so we waited at a corner in some town as they whizzed by. Then we headed for the finish, but we missed it. So my parents asked around, and found a hotel the Toshiba team were staying at and Sean Kelly would be doing a meet and greet at.
Time ticked by so slow at that hotel, every second felt like an hour, I watched the Toshiba mechanics clean the bikes, I seem to remember Martial Gayant coming out to chat to the mechanics, while I was in awe, he wasn’t Kelly.
I went in, and sat on my own in reception, hoping and dreaming, and eventually I heard a fuss as a group came in through the doors behind me and were taken down a corridor to my left. Natrually I followed the group, and there between what I remember as a sea of people were the PDM team, seated at different points of the room , signing the autographs, Dhaenens, Muller, Alcala, Early…and then, I just about didn’t know how to react, there ‘he’ was on a chair in front of me, singing autographs for people. I was within a few feet of King Kelly. Getting Closer. The same King Kelly who’s Sunday World poster of him in his Champion Bread kit adorned my bedroom wall, who terrorised the peloton, right there in front of me. Right. There! I didn’t know what to expect. It was my turn to meet Kelly. I stepped up, handed him my Autograph book and he looked at me and said ‘hello’. Not a sound came out of my mouth when I tried to reply. I am pretty sure my feet didn’t touch the ground on the way out of the room … magical times.
It is now as an adult, parent, I realise how lucky I was to live through that time. I still have that autograph somewhere in my attic. But the memories ahh the memories.
Can’t remember the year but I was on top of Patrick’s hill waiting for the race and we were told Kelly and Yates were out on their own and way ahead of schedule , the wind and rain was unreal , I’ll always remember the sound of the helicopter following them and the roar of the crowd when we saw Kelly at the end of the hill !!!! He made Patrick’s hill look easy that day, great memories
Brought that day back to me like it was yesterday. I vividly remember being told after the finish that Phil Anderson hit 63mph down the ragwell trying to stay away from Kelly…..and I also spent ages in Hearns car park annoying team mechanics. I obviously was no help because no one gave me a jersey!
Going through mallow on a bridge Saturday morning..over the bridge..very fast..we all thought we were Kelly and Roche when we were young
David Coleman O Keeffe
I remember collecting the empty team bottles.
My mother brought myself and brothers with a cousin to clonmel in 86, I was 11. Stood opposite the Clonmel Arms hotel on the steps at the now Befanis restaurant. A photographer was there and he let me use his camera. The sights and sound were unbelievable. The noise from the crowd, the helicopter and the shock when Kelly came through with the blood on his face. Very well written piece about the classic.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their memories. I will continue to post more pics and stories here as they come in.