From across the country they came, rising early, packing their kit, and their bikes, and their parents into cars, and making their way to the Women’s Commssion Cycling Training Camp.
Although the last Training Camp had only been a few months earlier, in February, this was a totally different animal… blue sky beamed on the gathering group, there wasn’t an arm-warmer or a rain-cape in sight, and there were cautionary calls of “Sun-cream!” as the cars finally pulled away.
Eighteen Youth and Junior girls started their 3-Day Cycling Training Camp with a Skills Session in Corkagh Park. This was conducted by Head Coach Orla Hendron, and by the much experienced David Tilly of Bray Wheelers, both of whom had words of wisdom to share that would echoes in ears for the days to come.
Meanwhile, the three parents who had volunteered to help run the Cycling Training Camp were packing luggage into cars, checking that bike tyres were primed for the road, and rubbing sunscreen onto the backs of necks. Then we were ready to roll…. Kippure Adventure Centre, brace yourself!
For the road spin to Kippure the entire group initially snaked it’s way along together, guided by Orla Hendron, Dave Tilly, and Fiona Cooke, and brought up from the rear by support cars driven by parents Edel Brennan, Pauline Russell, and Jen Sheridan. When we got to Manor Kilbride we split into three groups, divided according to how much distance each would cover in making the journey to Kippure.
Assistant coach Fiona Cooke accompanied a group of eight on the long climb up to Kippure, they were… Tara Russell, Sarah McGrath and Saidbh Murphy (all Killarney CC), Hannah Tilly and Orla Conroy (both Bray Wheelers), Eorann McCartan (VC Glendale), Naomi Wade (Lakeside Wheelers), and Chloe Wall (Navan RC)
Camp Organiser Orla Hendron guided a second group on a lap of the reservoir, before they too ascended to Kippure, they were… Eva Brennan (Deenside Wheelers), Almha Russell (Killarney CC), Maeve Gallagher (Castlebar), and Orla Harrison (Covey Wheelers).
While Dave Tilly of Bray Wheelers took a third group on a slightly more circuitous journey to our accommodation for the next few days, and they were… Laura Cooke and Lucy O’Donnell (both Limerick CC), Alicja Roslaneic (McNally Swords), Lauren Horan (Seven Springs), Naoise Sheridan (Orwell Wheelers), and Laura McMunn (Sligo Tri).
As an integral part of any Training Camp run by the Women’s Commission of Cycling Ireland, riders are educated on their nutritional requirements, as athletes. Nutritionist, and cyclist, Beth McCluskey provided advice and menus, Orla Hendron (much aided by Dave Tansey!) did the mega-shop, and then the girls themselves did the cooking.
The aroma of (ultra-healthy) spaghetti bolognes drifted through open doors into the evening air, already heady with the smell of lavender and rhododendrons, as dinner was prepared in each of the four chalets we occupied. Dave Tilly and Jen Sheridan, their good work done for the day, had left us by now, so it was up to Orla, Pauline, Edel and Fiona to go house to house checking how the cooking, and the cleaning up afterwards, had gone… reports were unanimous, it was ten-out-of-ten all round!
With dinner done, and no one yet tired enough for bed, a game of frisbee golf was called. Off we trekked around the marathon meadow-based course, divided into four teams, each interpreting the rules in their own unique way, and shouting with more surprise than glee when a frisbee found it’s way into a basket.
The game, though interrupted by a missing dog, an attention-seeking lamb, and a lost phone (thanks again Hannah!), finally wound up, and while no one is certain which team won, please defer to Eva or Alicja for how to score a game, and to Chloe for plans to make it an Olympic sport.
And, Day 1 done and dusted, it was time for bed!