The man of the moment this week is Patrick O'Brien, who spent his debut season last year working his way up through the Club league groups, and has now started his ascent of the Open rankings in an even more impressive style. Since making his breakthrough victory on Sallygap last August he has made a point of only winning the hard races, and his latest victory in the Ben McKenna Memorial earns him his upgrade to A3, and the next spot on our list of rider profiles...
Years with Orwell?: 2 Years
How did you get into cycling?
When I was a 7 year old, my big sister put me sitting up on an adult-sized mountain bike, at the top of a very-steep hill. She thought it would be funny to see what would happen when she pushed me down the hill. Previous to that I had only been on mini-bikes and trikes, and this was a new game! She just told me to hold on and keep pedalling. I made it to the bottom of the hill and managed to keep going and from that moment I was hooked. Being in the country the bicycle became a brilliant way of traveling and exploring, and I used bikes to go everywhere as a youngster.
Although I have always relied on cycling for getting around, I only became serious about longer distance cycling in 2009 when colleagues in the Fire Brigade signed me up for a Mizen to Malin charity cycle.
Have you any sporting backgrounds apart from cycling?
I have been into mountaineering and rock-climbing for many years and my passion for it is still quite strong. In more recent years I began winter mountaineering & climbing in Scotland which is extremely challenging, but takes you into some amazing places and scenery.
What made you choose Orwell Wheelers?
During my last job I did some cycling with a man named Mick Doyle, who is an Orwell veteran. He recommended that I should join a club to improve my cycling, he was always wearing an Orwell jersey and told me what a great club it was. All of a sudden I found myself outside Joe Daly’s every Sunday morning. The Sunday spins are superbly organised and will quickly improve the form of any level of cyclist.
What types of cycling/racing do you do and what do you enjoy about it?
At the moment I’ve limited my focus to road racing. Last year I started out in the club league and did a few open races. My limited experience means that with every race I do, I learn something new to use in future races. Getting involved in races is a huge rush, it’s just so exhilarating. What I enjoy most about it is the challenge, and meeting all kinds of people and making friends with other participants.
What bikes do you own?
Paganini racer from somewhere in the early 1990’s. This is a super smooth steel machine with nice some shiny chrome bits and 7-speed campagnolo.
Felt Z100 from 2008. It’s a solid aluminium bike that I use for training and getting around Dublin – a fantastic Bike that just keeps going.
Specialized Tarmac Elite 2009. This is my racing vessel that I nicknamed “The Whippet”, an entry level carbon bike that has performed splendidly. I stuck some Fulcrum Racing 3’s on it and couldn’t hold it back!
Your greatest cycling highs/achievements?
I certainly enjoyed my 1st place in the Sally Gap race during last year’s club league. I wanted to use my climbing skills to do well in that race and was thrilled be able to have enough time to freewheel over the line and enjoy the victory.
Back in 2009 I cycled from Mizen to Malin head with Dublin Fire Brigade to raise money for Barnardos, which was a huge success and boundless fun was had along the way.
Your biggest cycling lows/disappointments?
I’m glad to say that I have not had any big disappointments on the bike. The worst thing to report so far is getting a half-dozen punctures on the way to, during, and on the way home from this year’s pre-season club league race. I always believe that any bad days out will make the good days feel even better.
Your cycling heroes/role models?
I’m not a serious cycling fan but I do intend on getting to know more about the scene. I must say that Marco Pantani was heroic back in his days. Most inspiring to me so far have been some fellow club-mates who are in the process of achieving big things. These include Pat Conlon who stormed last year’s league races, Michelle Geoghegan who is competing strongly on the continent, Orla and Aideen in the Track world champs, and Brian Ahern who is flying this year, and has done brilliant in the past.
Your favourite training route/coffee stop?
Cycling through the Wicklow Mountains is awesome. Up by Hellfire and over the Sally-Gap and then down into Glendalough is a personal favourite. I usually cycle into the glen to the upper-lake on really sunny days, and lay out on a boulder beside the water for a break. It’s a great place to unwind. My route home would either be over the Wicklow Gap and around the Lakes, or back through Roundwood and Enniskerry.
What music is on your MP3 Player now?
I’m a huge music fan and this list changes very regularly but right now it contains The National, Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age, Cocteau Twins, Bjork, A Perfect Circle, Elbow, Interpol, Zeppelin, The Doors, Pixies.
You’ve progressed a long way in your short time in cycling. Where will next year take you?
The aim over the next year is to compete in more open races, and build up the experience and just keep on getting that buzz from racing. I’m thinking about giving the Hillclimb Champs a go too.
Tell us something we don’t know about you already and you don’t mind the general public knowing?
I play bass guitar in a band, but cycling is taking over… aaaghh!
Photos thanks to and copyright of Amy-Norah Farrell.