Girls Cycling Training Camp… Day 3: Getting air, and making tracks.

BMX race start
Katie O’Neill coaches how to start a BMX race


The final day of the Women’s Commission Girls 3-Day Training Camp was another two-parter… the morning session was BMX riding, while the afternoon was all about Track cycling.

Breakfast was early, the cars were packed up, and before the day had gotten properly warm, we had departed from Kippure and made our way to St. Catherine’s Park, home to Lucan BMX Club.

Eamonn Wyer from BMX Ireland was there to introduce everyone to the recently opened track, and provide some advice on how to get involved in BMX cycling. Eamonn had also kindly organised BMX bikes and helmets for all who wished to give it a go, and very soon there were eighteen eager girls testing their skills at what was a new type of cycling to the majority of them.

Katie O’Neill, Junior National BMX Champion, and Master’s Champion Alison Murphy then coached the eighteen girls on the basic skills necessary to race the BMX track.

Lucan BMX track
Lucan BMX track

Despite some initial anxiety, and a few tumbles, the Training Camp attendees were soon whizzing up and down the humpy course, getting “air” on the jumps and refining their skills, and all under the encouraging guidance of Katie and Alison. BMX biking is a fully-fledged Olympic sport, and Ireland has it’s own World Champion in Kelvin Batey.

To bring the session to a suitable close the group were divided up to race the track in heats, with each one being hard fought, and well won. This culminated in a final race, between the winners of each heat, and Orla Conroy (Bray Wheelers) adapted her well-honed mountain-biking skills into new-found BMX skills, and emerged a worthy winner.

Lunch time saw the group picnic in the pleasant and sunny surroundings of St. Catherine’s Park, Lucan. And once the home-made sambos were eaten, and the BMX post-mortem completed, it was time to pack up the cars again and head across town to Kimmage for the final session of the three-day Training Camp.


Sundrive velodrome
Sundrive velodrome

Afternoon at Sundrive

Eamonn Ceannt Velodrome, on Sundrive Road, the home of track cycling in Dublin, was not a new venue to many of those at our Girls Training Camp. And, including some of those who found themselves at Sundrive for the very first time, getting to ride the track was the highlight of the 3-Day Training Camp for many of our eighteen attendees.

Track coaches Paddy Davis and Terry Cromer were on hand to offer advice, instruction and encouragement. Paddy Davis introduced those new to track cycling to the basic skills required to master the sport.

Meanwhile Terry Cromer used the derny to advance the skills of those who already had some track riding experience. Naomi Wade (Lakeside Wheelers) made great advances in her track skills while racing behind the derny, and this despite still being in recovery from a recently fractured elbow.

The girls prepare to take to test their track bikes
The girls prepare to take to test their track bikes

The level of enthusiasm for Track Cycling from our group was such that Orla Harrison (Covey Wheelers), Naoise Sheridan (Orwell Wheelers) and Eva Brennan (Deenside Wheelers) all stayed on to race at the weekly Wednesday evening track meet held by Sundrive Track Team.

And Tara and Almha Russell (Killarney CC) returned to Sundrive on the following weekend to further hone their track skills, with the grand plan of taking part in the Youth Track Nationals due to be held at Orangefield Velodrome, Belfast on Saturday 18th of July.

Current Pursuit Team in action
Current Pursuit Team in action

Given the high hopes Cycling Ireland have towards qualifying a Womens Team Pursuit foursome for the Rio Olympics, it was encouraging to witness the talent the Youths and Juniors showed at Sundrive Veldrome… a potential team for Toyko in 2020, perhaps!

And finally….

To conclude this series of four reports relating to the 3-Day Girls Training Camp organised by the Women’s Commission of Cycling Ireland we would like to thank everyone who helped make it happen, either by donating their time, their funds, or their children… the future of women’s cycling in Ireland shines ever brighter.