Road cycling, track racing, criterium racing, mountain biking, yoga and nutrition were all part of an extensive programme of events at last week’s youth training camp in Kippure Adventure Centre. Experts on hand to help head coach Orla Hendron included two of Ireland’s top female cyclists; Melanie Spath and Lydia Boylan, sports nutritionist Beth McCluskey and yoga expert Jenny Jones. The extensive programme of events would have excited even the most experienced of cyclists, but this time it was ten of our youth riders who got the chance to take part.
The training camp didn’t start at Kippure Adventure Centre itself, but instead the group met at Corkagh Park and made the trip to Kippure by bike. Support was provided by coach Orla Hendron in Cycling Ireland’s van. The group comprised of five more experienced youth cyclists and five girls who are new to the sport. On hand to help were our current National Road Race Champion Melanie Spath and current National Track Champion Lydia Boylan. These are fulltime riders at the very top of their game and they had invaluable advice for the group.
Ready to meet the group on their arrival in Kippure was one of Ireland’s top sports nutritionists; Beth McCluskey. Instead of cooking for the girls Beth provided them with healthy ingredients and recipes. “I provided food boxes for each house and they had to prepare all their own meals using pretty basic foods, lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads, muesli & porridge, eggs, chicken, nuts, dried fruit, yogurts or soya yogurts, milk or soya milk, cheese. The only treats provided in the houses were a couple of bars of dark chocolate as to share but this had to last them three days.” Among the recipes the girls made were Thai Red Curry and wholegrain hummus sandwiches. However their favourite was Beth’s recipe for a Chicken Stirfry which you can read in full here.
Beth provided the nutritional information for all her recipes in order to encourage the girls to take an interest in healthy eating and fuelling themselves properly for their training. Beth and Orla gladly took up the role of MasterChef judges, and each night they would eat in one of the houses. Although, when contacted they were unwilling to pick a winner with Beth diplomatically saying “They were all great!”
On Monday evening the girls had a yoga session with Jenny Jones. Cyclists spend a lot of time bent over their bikes and yoga can be useful for lengthening their hamstrings, loosening achilles tendons, stretching the body and strengthening the core. By introducing them to yoga hopefully the girls will carry this practice forward and help eliminate discomfort and injuries caused by cycling.
On Tuesday morning Beth, a champion mountainbiker, taught the group the essentials of mountain biking. Even very experienced cyclist Orla Hendron found this lesson interesting.
Mountain Biking Essentials
- Grip handlebars with three fingers on the bars and one on the brake. Mountain bikes have disc brakes which only need the lightest touch. You need more grip on the bars than the brakes so resist the urge to have all your fingers over the brakes.
- Keep your hands further right on the handlebars than you might do usually, for better handling.
- Practise standing up on the pedals and balance to absorb the ride and move naturally with the bike
Next the girls headed to Corkagh Park for the weekly women’s criterium race. For some of the more experienced riders like Rachel Kaye Mellor this is a regular event and she mixed it with the senior women as usual, for others it was their first race. They all coped very well in their first outing on this track and their determination to do well was clearly evident. Shauna McFadden of Errigal CC had an outstanding evening, finishing in third place and impressing with her exciting style and confident bike handling.
On Saturday morning the team enjoyed a little lie in before cleaning their accommodation. After a rescue operation to free their coach from her van (!) it was off to Sundrive outdoor velodrome to take part in a day’s track racing. For those who were new to this aspect of the sport Paddy Davis held a training and accreditation session. For the rest it was a day racing on the track.
Orla Hendron was thankful for the use of the Cycling Ireland van and for the help she received from Beth, Mel, Lydia, Paddy, the parents and everyone who was involved over the course of the weekend. Credit to Orla too for putting on such an extensive programme of events for this group of juniors. With the support of the Women’s Commission the cost of the weekend was exceptional value at €50 including accommodation, food and all activities.