The King and I

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One day I was out on the bike when the phone rang. On the other end of the line was one of the most famous cyclists of all time Sean ‘The King’ Kelly. As we chatted he mentioned that he was heading over to the Cycle Show in Birmingham in a few weeks, and if I wanted to come along, I could pop over with him. An offer too good to refuse.

At the show, Sean was a guest of ONDA, a Portuguese Cycle clothing manufacturer who make all of the cycling kit for his An Post Chain Reaction Cycles team. We would spend a lot of time over the weekend going through the entire range and by the time we boarded a flight back to Ireland a new business venture would be born.

Travelling with Sean is always an experience. Walking along through Dublin airport a steady stream of polite ‘howaya Seans’ as if the entire airport was full of Carrick people, were interspersed with nods, double takes and the odd whispered ‘That’s the great Sean Kelly’ from a starstruck father to a son.

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At the show itself literally thousands of people asked for and were always given autographs, photographs and plenty of selfies. For someone who isn’t huge into technology and the internet, Sean appears in an incredible amount of Facebook profile pics.

As we returned from lunch one day we passed a packed stage area and Sean remarked ‘There’s a big crowd in there for whoever is on now’. He glanced at his watch, ‘I have to go on after them in half an hour’. As it turned out, there was no one on stage at the time. The packed crowd were all in place already waiting for Sean.

Another time we walked onto a trade stand and Sean enquired off the nearest guy working on the stand if another guy that he was looking for was around. The ‘BMX’ looking assistant was really helpful and when he could not see the other guy he pulled out his phone to give him a call. He turned to Sean and asked

‘Who shall I say is looking for him?’

‘Sean Kelly’

‘Sorry is that Kenny or Kelly?’

‘Kelly’

‘OK,Thanks’

I watched the interaction in amazement. Here we were at a cycle show and a guy working on a trade stand did not recognise one of the all time greats of the sport. But then the realisation dawned upon me. Anyone who watched the exploits of Sean Kelly on the World Cycling stage throughout his career would expect to see a 10 foot giant carved from granite. When they meet a down to earth, normal guy with no airs or graces who doesn’t ask to be treated any differently form anyone else, it is easy to understand why they might not recognise him at first.

Back on the ONDA stand with Jean Pierre and Celia we went through the range and the pricing structure. I was excited to see how high the quality of the clothing was and amazed to see how low the prices were.

Sean has been testing and helping to develop products with ONDA since they came onboard as team sponsor for The An Post Chain Reaction Cycles team, and has been very hands on.

Together, we agreed to become ONDA agents for Ireland and The UK having seen the potential of being able to offer such a high quality product at really good prices combined with Seans’ globally recognised name as being a good combination for business success.

Having Sean heavily involved in all aspects from product design, testing and development right through to marketing and business development is a huge bonus.
Next up came a trip to Portugal where we went through every stage of the production process and Sean actually tried on every item in the range to check the fit and sizing of each and every item. Different materials offer a different fit, all of which was noted in order. His attention to detail was amazing to witness first hand.
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Part of the screen printing room in the factory
Part of the screen printing room in the factory
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Laser cutting each tiny hole on a jersey for breathability
The Sean Kelly HT Jersey
The Sean Kelly HT Jersey
Sean working on the 2015 An Post Team designs
Sean working on the 2015 An Post Team designs
Sean Really did try on everything in the range, even the triathlon suits.
Sean really did try on everything in the range, even the triathlon suits.

 

Back home and just before Christmas 2 boxes of samples arrived for both of us to try. Santa had come early. Sean had spoken very highly of the range topping Algarve 2 leggings which are windproof, water resistant and thermal, along with having specialist chamois manufacturer Cytech’s best elasticated chamois. I smiled on St Stephens day when I saw rain beating against the window and was still smiling 4 hours later as I felt fully insulted from all that the days wind and rain had to offer.
Even Seans' dog 'Bin' had to try on some clothing
Even Seans doberman had to try on some clothing
All weather jerseys are a trend in Cycling at present and have changed the way we dress on the bike in bad weather. ONDA had developed an Ultimate Rain jersey for the team who spend much of their time racing in the worst of Belgian weather conditions. Sean mentioned that the guys had found them very good and the feedback was that only a base layer should be worn underneath even in really bad conditions.
It felt strange, to leave the house in what felt like a slightly heavier than normal jersey, but with no rain cape on, when it was lashing rain, but the comfort of the rain jersey made me feel as though I was in some form of a bubble insulated from all weather conditions. When the pace ramped up on the road back to Carrick I really noticed the advantage of only having a jersey and base layer whilst others began to overheat.
These jerseys are available in fully customisable designs for club and team wear along with most of the ONDA range of products.
Christmas Day enjoying the comfort of ONDA
Christmas Day enjoying the comfort of ONDA
We launched the website on Christmas Day, a sign that we are ready to do business and always available to our customers, and the response has been fantastic so far.
For any club or team looking for new kit in 2015 we would be delighted to offer a quotation or answer any questions that anyone might have.
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To find out more check out the website www.seankellycycling.com
or
or if you need any more information
email : barry@seankellycycling.com
or call me on 086 8158727
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Roll on 2015 and another exciting year ahead.
Barry

 

 

 

 

 

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