Yesterday afternoon whilst recovering from another fantastic spin off road we were having lunch when a blast from the past appeared before us . Both Ray and myself had to do a double take when Shane O’Meara formerly of The Shannon Transport club in Limerick appeared before us . We had all raced together up through the underage and junior ranks but neither of us had seen Shane since then . It was good to catch up , and I began to wonder what happened to all of the different guys who we saw week in week out for a number of years until things other than cycling took over .
One of the most naturally gifted riders to ever sit on a bike in Ireland who never went pro was Robert Power form Dungarvan . When he was a first year junior I remember him winning the senior races in Limerick and Mitchelstown ahead of the likes of Bobby Power , Ray Keane and Ger Madden . The race in Mitchelstown was especially impressive as he passed through the start / finish line heading out on the final lap with a two minute lead over his pursuers and was smiling as he came thundering up towards the line . He went on to secure many international victories and represented Ireland at the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 . Sadly this was to be the peak of his career and he turned to the more restfull pastime of fishing in his native Dungarvan and worked in a mens clothes shop . I bumped into him recently at the Sean Kelly Tour and he still had his trade mark easy smile . He is now an acomplished photographer and was the official photographer for the event . A genuinly nice guy he is back doing a few spins but with no intention to return to competition .
Declan Lonergan from Waterford won the Ras in 1994 and is one of the most prolific stage winners with seven under his belt . A blistering sprint made him an excellent crit rider and he went on to have a successfull career as a pro in America . He is now working for Oakley and is their International Watch brand manager .
We are often asked in the shop about The O’Gorman brothers from Clonmel . In 1988 Anthony was a triple National champion winning the road race along with the 25 and 50 mile time trial titles . This was also the year that he won the Shay Elliot Memorial and both himself and younger brother Dick went on to be members of the National team in the Nissan Classic . They both now run the family bakery and are both still on the bike . Anthony was out on the mountain yesterday and Dick is just back from Budapest where he ran a 2.56 Marathon , his third of the year .
A number of years ago a newbie turned up for the Clonmel CC spins . He was a little older than most beginners of the time in his early thirties but was gritty nonetheless . His main difficulty was when it came to getting his shoes into the toe clip pedals , which were still in use at the time . To combat this he steered clear of the Duegi or Sidi shoes and preferred to wear his good black polished leather Sunday shoes . Thus earning the callsign ‘shoes’ .
One Sunday , at a race in Tipperary Town ‘Shoes’ was feeling a little aprehensive on the start line . Most riders had some difficulty clipping into the pedals but as it was his nemesis he wanted to ensure that it would not be the cause of him getting dropped in the first 100 metres . He positioned himself alongside a car at the start line and placed both feet into the pedals and pulled the straps tight . That was when he spotted the stick on the road in his path just as he would be taking off . Not being willing to leave anything to chance he unclipped from his pedals and walked forward to remove the stick and throw it into the ditch . However in a cruel twist of fate , just as he bent down to remove the stick the race organiser dropped the flag and the race began . Aside from trying to avoid being run over he had to mount his bike and in a panic pedalled off after the race on top of the pedals with the clips scraping off of the ground . Through sheer grit and determination he managed to get onto the tail of the bunch and even got his shoes into the clips . Then just as he began to settle into the race and catch his breath the bunch came upon a tractor and trailer . In an attempt to regain a few places in the bunch ‘Shoes’ decided not to follow the rest of the bunch around the outside of the machines but instead headed up the inside . The tractor driver , being aware of the race passing him had pulled in close to the ditch and unfortunatly for ‘Shoes’ there were gullys within . Before he knew it his front wheel shot down and he was jetisoned into the ditch . He emerged covered in blackberries and brambles and decided to call it a day . He still rode the bike for a number of years but his racing career was cut short . Now he is a busy Taxi driver in the town and the shoes have gone from black to brown .