A weekend with something for everybody in it. A very large contingent turned out to support the Joe Daly Memorial Cycle in aid of Simpsons hospital with many significant others, brothers, sisters and children in evidence on a lovely family cycle. Others opted to test themselves against the Dragon in Enniscorthy and yet others still haven't had enough of the Wicklow Peaks and were back at it on Sunday.

Eamonn Eaton fills us in on the Dragon while Eugène Dillon takes a brief pause from the bike to tell us about the Wicklow Peaks.

The Dragon Sportive

Eamonn Eaton

The Dragon Sportive - one of the Skoda Cycle Series - was a great success with a 100% increase in Orwell participants. This year Colin Caesar and Eamonn Eaton took part. They both did it last year as well but that was before Colin joined the club. Colin is from Enniscorthy so the local boy was out to make a good impression on the locals. We both did the 130k route which was obviously measured in Irish kilometres as the final distance was just over 138k.

We set off from Enniscorthy through Clonroche towards New Ross. The Orwell team made their way to the leading group behind the control car. It was a steady 40 to 45 kph for the first 30k and didn't look like letting up. We knew Mount Leinster was looming around the 100k mark so we decided to form a sub group and held a constant speed in the low 30s. We built up a good solid team and even managed to coach a few people in effective 'up and overs'.

The Main Street in Inistiogue presented an incredibly steep hill with sharp turns and that sorted out the the core group who stuck together as we headed into Co Kilkenny. Thomastown passed and then it was on to an excellent food stop in Graiguenamanagh in a most scenic location by the river.

At this point the local boy found a burst of energy and decided to head into the next stage of the journey with some of the fast boys - Eamonn never saw him again but knew he would really impress the locals on his triumphant return to Enniscorthy in great company. Eamonn was surprised on the Mount Leinster Challenge a few weeks ago that the 2 trips over Mount Leinster were not as bad as he had remembered from last year. This kept him going right through Borris in Carlow where the route turned right just before the town. Then it was Mount Leinster and it turns out there is a 3rd way over the mountain and yes it's as bad if not worse than he remembered. Then it was a great descent and a fairly fast run back to Enniscorthy. The Orwell lads made many friends along the way on a beautiful sunny day in the South East. It's a great event and one worth serious consideration for next year.


Wicklow Peaks

Eugène Dillon

Helen Horan very kindly gave me a lift over. At Finlay Motors, the few Orwellians assembled: myself, Helen, Jonny O' Reilly, Mary Brady and Rob Monaghan. I saw Darragh Sheeran but we didn't get chatting - we must the next time! Jamie Busher was also glimpsed in the crowd .

The weather was glorious and soon enough we were settling into that familiar rhythm of neutralised start. After a few roundabouts, we were zooming through lovely green countryside on the way toward the familiar hunting ground of Sally Gap. Even though I know the climb so well, it was such a buzz to do it in a big group and to feel that moment of the intense gradient just before the crossroads. Jonny, Helen and myself assembled at the top and buzzed towards Laragh, seeing Eileen Byrne salute. At the stop in Laragh, we all chatted a bit and I said hello briefly to Maeve Quigley who clearly was flying it on the 100km route.

We climbed Shay and I think that was where we met Billy Parker flying down who managed to fit in a quick 'how's-it-going' as he zoomed by (if I remember right). On Slieve Mann Jonny upped the pace, I stayed with him for a while before settling into a rhythm and watching from afar as he overhauled the groups ahead. At the top we assembled and descended together. The three peaks were over with but this was Wicklow and there was plenty more bumps left. Myself, Helen and Jonny ended up together with Jonny doing the main bit of work.

Eugène , Helen, Jonny and Mary

The event was well marshalled, the weather was great and the buzz was great too. Afterwards we all had tea inside but I was glad to go back to the car with the bikes outside on the rack. Little did I know that at around that time, a beautiful LOOK bike was stolen from one of the guys from Naas Cycling Club while he was in having a tea. A sobering end to a great day.