The women’s cycling transfer market has never been so busy! Aideen Keenan, Ciara Kinch and Gillian McDarby are just some of the women who will be donning new club colours in 2015. Orwell Wheelers are set to lose two riders as Aideen Keenan has been snapped up by the DID Electrical Racing Team and Ciara Kinch is heading to Towers CC. It’s not all bad news for Orwell though as they’ll be joined this year by one of the legends of Irish women’s cycling, Gillian McDarby.
Ex-adventure racer and mountain runner Aideen Keenan impressed everyone in her debut season last year. She took a win in her very first open race and went on to finish the season by winning the County Team prize with Orwell Wheelers at Rás na mBan. In between juggling family life, training with her new team and working with the Women’s Commission she somehow managed to find time to fill us in on her big move and her plans for 2015. You know what they say, if you want something done, ask a busy person…..
Aideen, tell us about your move to the DID Electrical Racing Team.
I made the decision to join DID Racing Team after being extended an invitation at the start of the season. I was very flattered by their interest, as they are a team with experienced riders and strong road racing focus. Having been in the racing game less than a year, I’m obviously very excited about a great opportunity like this and am really looking forward to the racing season ahead with my new DID teammates.
Aideen in action at Corkagh Park (photo / Brendan Culleton)
Will you miss your old team Orwell Wheelers?
I didn’t take the decision to leave Orwell lightly, as I’ve had a really enjoyable first season with them. There are many seasoned racers in the club – both men and women – that have been brilliant mentors, coaches and teammates. It seems like an age since I rocked up to my first winter spin with Orwell in October 2013, when the group were given a crash course in up-and-overs while walking our bikes along a footpath! The racing I’ve done across the country in the lime green Orwell colours has been really exciting, and the odd bit of silverware was an unexpected bonus. One of my personal highlights was our five-day Rás na mBan extravaganza, culminating in the Top Irish County Team prize. And in fact, Orwell hasn’t managed to get rid of me completely. I may not be racing in their colours this season, but I’ve stayed on as a member in order to remain engaged with the club, as they really have the balance right, from the superb club league to the active social scene.
What are your aims for the 2015 season?
In 2015, I ‘m going to try to improve on my debut season with a view to picking up results across some of the more established fixtures, in particular the National League, Corkagh Park Racing Series and the Stickybottle Crit League. I’ll participate in more stage races in 2015, with a view to competing in my second Rás na mBan in September as a much more experienced and able rider. I also hope to get some experience racing internationally, with the intention of getting my domestic racing to the next level. I will also continue to support the development of riders through my role in the Women’s Commission, and am delighted to see that many clubs have new female riders lined up for the 2015 season. I look forward to seeing them all on the road!
A sneak peek at the Velo Revolution kit Aideen will be wearing this year.
Another rider off to new pastures this year is Ciara Kinch who also leaves Orwell Wheelers, she’s heading for Clondalkin based club Towers CC. Last year this new club started racing at the Corkagh Park Criterium Series and proceeded to put in a very impressive performance at Rás na mBan a few months later. The team, coached by Tony Kavanagh, already have two very talented and enthusiastic riders, Ciara will bring valuable experience and advice that will no doubt help them develop. Ciara told us that she’s looking forward to the move “I have made the move as I want to try something new and I think I would enjoy the experience of being in a new club. Over the years, I have enjoyed racing with and being part of Orwell CC in the women’s racing scene. Undoubtedly, I will miss the camaraderie in Orwell as they are very nice bunch.” In fact, she already opened her account for her new team, taking third place on the podium at the Traders Cup in Dundalk on Sunday. Watch this space!
Orwell Wheelers may be losing two valuable riders but the Dundrum club has a huge female membership and Women’s Racing Co-ordinator Ann Horan is already hard at work helping a new crop of riders get ready for their first race. The club is also boosted by the news that Gillian McDarby will be joining them for the 2015 season. One of the top cyclists this country has produced, she was appointed head coach of the women’s rugby sevens team last year and cycling had to take a back seat. She has missed it though and she’s looking forward to getting back on the road this year and being part of the biggest cycling club in the country.
McDarby was lured to her new club by good friend and Orwell member Orla Hendron, plus the club is right on her doorstep, but that’s not the only reason she decided to join “They are an extremely welcoming and sociable club that encourage everyone to partake in their events. They have a great set up to suit all levels of cyclists be it sportif, leisure, competitve and underage. They also have one of the best women’s racing/leisure scenes in the country. They’ve got great support at the races and extremely knowledgeable club members in all aspects.”
Of course for many people the big question is will she be racing this year? “Yes I hope to race this year (purely for fun!), it’s been over four years since I raced competitively so it will take me a while to get my race savvy back! I hope to don my Orwell colours at the women’s race in Blarney.”
Gillian McDarby, pictured here on the left in this recent photo.
It’s encouraging to see more strong teams emerging in the women’s racing scene. More teams mean increased tactics and that can make for more exciting racing. We can’t wait to see Aideen, Ciara and Gillian racing in their new team colours in 2015. The stage is set for a great season of women’s racing.