The Sean Kelly Tour – what makes a hero ?

Yesterday in Dungarvan County Waterford , for only the second time ever The Sean Kelly Tour took place . There were over two thousand cyclists who took part in the event and without exception everyone had a fantastic day . Ray and I had both vans there doing back up service and were pretty flat out all day long fixing punctures , chains  , gears , buckles , adjusting saddle heights and supplying some embrocation for cramped muscles .

 The atmosphere was fantastic as even those running into mechanical trouble were still smiling and enjoying the day . There was none of the panic and stress that most racing cyclists will display when receiving a wheel change let alone having a new tyre or tube fitted .

A number of times during the day some of the riders who had run into mechanical difficulties commented on how good an event it is and one guy asked me why I thought it was the best run event of its’ kind in the country ( no offence Wicklow or Kerry ) , whilst being just two years in existence . I had to think about the answer and the best that I could come up was a threefold reply ;

1 – The people behind the event .

An event of this magnitude does not just appear on the day . Many months of planning and organisation go into getting the show on the road . The coming together of The Waterford county Council , Waterford Sports Partnership , Waterford Community forum and the eight local cycling clubs has proved to be a remarkable display of cooperation . The fact that all of these people can gel together and all sing from the same hymn sheet is hugely important . Having a single goal of making it a fantastic event for all to enjoy has been adopted by all and each organisation does its utmost to make that happen . When Johnny Brunnock and Gerry Geary drove the full 160k route the night before checking that all was in order and when Rosarie Keely was getting registration organised at 5 am and packing it up at 7.30 pm their main aim was to make the event as enjoyable as possible for every cyclist there  .

2 – Sean Kelly himself .

The fact that over half of the riders taking part had their interest in cycling sparked by Kelly’s exploits at the top of World cycling gives many a sentimental reason to take part . The fact that it is an opportunity to ride alongside the fourth greatest cyclist of all time gives others a reason to be there . The lesser known fact that he has a huge input into how the event is run is less recognised but even more important . Kelly attends most of the committee meetings and his knowledge and recommendations are invaluable . When the last riders crossed the line yesterday evening it was Kelly who was standing under the banner to congratulate them . That is what makes him such a hero to those who can never hope to emulate what he has achieved .

3 – The people taking part .

Not once during the whole course of the day did I hear a single moan .  Whilst there were a few groans on Seskin and Mahon Falls , every single person taking part was there to have a great day out . The camaraderie and banter between all the different levels of cyclists was fantastic .  Whether you were on a ten grand pinarello or a two hundred euro hybrid everyone was chatting away together as they rode along .

Everyone had their own goal for the day in what they wanted to achieve and were all satisfied as they crossed the line . First man to finish the 160k in just over five hours was Jim Fitzpatrick from Kilkenny . Jim only started cycling two years ago and last years event was the first time he had ever ridden in a bunch . Another Kilkenny man and friend of Jim’s ,  Tom who is visually impaired along with co-pilot Martina also completed the 160 k event in just under 10 hours .  But having to ride a tandem up all of those hills sitting in the saddle and forging along for that amount of time surely deserves a huge vote of admiration . Very few elite cyclists would ever contemplate 10 hours on the bike . That makes them hero’s in my eyes .

Barry

www.worldwidecycles.com

3 thoughts on “The Sean Kelly Tour – what makes a hero ?

  • August 26, 2008 at 2:10 pm
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    no problem kieran , i was looking at your pics last night myself . some great shots there

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  • August 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm
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    It was my first time to ride in such an event having only taking up road biking recently. I took on the 100k cycle and really enjoyed it. It was a fantastic fun event, and even though I am a complete novice, I have never met such nice people in any sporting arena. It was a fantastic atmosphere and there was a real buzz about the cycle and the event. I am now officially and totally completely hooked on cycling… And as it was for charity, it made it even sweeter to cross the finish line… Well done to all who organised the event and helped run it on the day, especially those in Ballymac and the nice First Aid lady who cleaned up my ‘sore’ knee! Congratulations to all. Brilliant, just brilliant!!! Can’t wait until next year! Might even try the 160k….

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