5 MINUTES WITH… John Marron

 

 

Age: 42

 

Years with Orwell: … joined in 1986-missed a few years in the middle due to misspent college years/working abroad, but once an Orwellian...

 

How did you get into cycling?  I took up the bike at a very early age thanks to my parents who encouraged me to cycle everywhere. We all had bikes at home and I cycled to school everyday.

I tried all the usual school sports and a few more, I think the penny dropped that I was pretty rubbish at rugby when I was getting pummelled most weekends by lads twice my size, aged 12!

Then I did a bit of touring/hostelling with some schoolmates and it went from there.

 

What made you choose Orwell Wheelers?

I grew up in Rathgar, and a long time friend, Ivan Healy had joined Orwell, so I tagged along on my dad’s touring bike. It was a great club, and we were really encouraged as beginners to get stuck in. There were a bunch of the experienced riders to encourage us. As I recall they were the likes of Dave Doyle, Kevin Riney, Kieran Hammond, Noel O’Neill, Dave Tansey and Robbie Lawless-all got us going and showed us the ropes. I thought Dave Tansey was ancient back then!! Of the group that joined around my time, I think Scott MacDonald and Declan Byrne are two of the guys that have stuck with the club consistently.

The club was booming back at that time and I rode with Orwell as part of 2 squads that the club put into the Junior Tour in 1988.

I kept racing until college, and afterwards went off to Nova Scotia, where I did a bit of mountainbiking-you know the winter season has arrived when your brakes and chain freeze solid!

I came back to Dublin eager to get back on the road, and got back into the club-I think the membership had tailed off to about 35 stalwarts, so I got involved in the committee to try and put something back into the club, and we got a bit more organized with Paul Tansey’s sponsorship initiative, and we put some structure to the winter spins and encouraged new members to join up. It spiralled from there. I think back when I was ‘volunteered’ for club secretary we were hitting about 200 members, and it has continued apace since then in the last few years.

 

What types of cycling do you do and what do you enjoy about it?

I did  a bit of open racing as a Junior and Senior-Gorey 3 day etc, and while I enjoyed racing,  when I got back into the bike I wasn’t too pushed to go back to the open racing scene. There was a group of us in the club who were doing longer training spins, Wicklow 200s and we had been away to see a few World Championships and done some training camps to Majorca and Italy.

We talked about riding the Etape du Tour some year, so it was around that time that ‘Marron Tours’ was born and off we went from there!

I have really enjoyed the various continental trips, and seem to have a bit of a ‘Classics’ obsession-I’ve lost count of the number of trips through Belgium-I’ve done a few cyclosportives over theree: Tours of Flanders, Tilff Bastogne Tilff, Paris Roubaix, and a group of us went over to ride the Tour of Lombardy one year. I really cannot recommend Flanders highly enough. 14,000 lunatics bouncing across the cobbles cannot be wrong.

More recently I’ve ‘qualified’ for the IVCA Vets racing, and have really enjoyed getting back into the races-short, sharp and great fun.

I always enjoyed the bike for the people you meet-I’ve meet a huge variety of people over the years and those you meet on the bike remain friends for life. Must be something about grovelling in the gutter together?

 

What bikes do you own?

I think there must be some sort of theory-the number of bikes you own is always one less than you would like! However Cheryl might say that’s already a few too many in our house!

 

Your greatest cycling highs/achievements?

In terms of personal achievements, I’d say the 2 Etapes I rode, are up there. The first one we did in the club was from Limoges to St Flour, and was the longest stage of the tour that year at 254kms, and was classified as flat (apart from the Cat 1 and the rolling parcours all day that is!). Second Etape we did finished up Alpe D’Huez after 140kms or so and it was 34 degrees in the shade!

Also doing the Paris Roubaix sportif across the cobbles  in true classics weather (rain, thunder & lightening). I was so wrecked by the end of that trip that I could barely get out of the saddle to climb a motorway flyover!

These are up there as some of the toughest days I’ve done on the bike, and therefore the one’s I’m most proud of.

In terms of events I’ve seen-I was lucky enough to spend a summer working in Paris and saw Lemond beat Fignon on the Champs Elysee when he won the Tour by 8 seconds. Another high was  watching Mark Scanlon win the Junior Worlds for Ireland 10 years ago in Valkenberg.

Biggest blag-a corporate junket of a spin in the team car in the Tour with dubious ‘Team Farm Frites’ in the Alps. My job was to hang out of the window and make sure the commissares didn’t see us push Robbie McEwan up the mountain! He may not have been a great climber but his descending was gob smacking.

Finally getting a race win…aged 41. Ok…ok,  it was a Tues night vets race, against some other old geezers, and the only reason we stayed away was because Orwell were not chasing me down and were actually blocking any racing happening back in the bunch!

 

Your biggest cycling lows/disappointments?

No disappointments.

A low point-1st Etape, after riding for 54kms, having got up at about 3.30am to get to the start, starting to feel a bit tired and cycling under the ‘Only 200kms to go banner’!

On a serious note though, the tragic accident involving Morgan Sparrow in 2012, in a league race that I was organizing, remains for me a very bleak moment in the history of the club.

 

Your cycling heroes/role models?

I know that I should say Stephen Roche, given the club heritage, and I was and am a huge fan of his achievements, but if I am honest Sean Kelly was always my hero-a savage for the classics.

In terms of club role models, if I could have half the enthusiasm for the bike Noel O’Neill has…..

 

Your favourite training route/coffee stop?

When I was racing, my favourite mid week route was Tallaght, Bohernabreena, left down to the reservoir, climb up to the Featherbeds, Pine Forest,over to Johnny Foxes and home by the back of Lamb Doyles.

Another gem that the lads (you know who you are) bring me on pre season, to put me in the body bag is Tallaght, Mount Seskin, Blessington, Hollywood Hill, Back of the Lake to Lacken, up Ballysmutten Hill and home via Stone’s Cross and if they are feeling particularly sadistic, a loop around the Bohernabreena reservoir for good measure.

My all time favourite Northside spin (yep I am a Northsider now) is actually on the club winter routes and hits the back of the airport, Ballyboughal, Lusk, Skerries, Balbriggan, Gormanstown, Stamullen, Naul-an epic

The coffee stop is a new addition, I generally leave the caffeine til I get home.

 

What music is on your MP3 Player now?

Mostly use it for listening to podcasts-all cycling related -highly recommend ‘Velocast’ and ‘This Week In Cycling History’

 

Tell us something we don’t know about you already?

I’m a bit OCD about having a clean bike?

Rumour of me washing my mountainbike in the shower can be confirmed! It was only once I swear!

 

Any words of advice for other members?

Orwell has been successful because it has always been open to welcoming new riders and I believe the club’s success is because it encourages people to develop on the bike, at all levels.

I think that as the club gets bigger it needs more of the membership to pitch in and give something back.

Personally I have got a huge amount of satisfaction from the club over the years. Once an Orwellian…

 

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