What do Bressie, Paul Galvin, Matt Cooper, PJ Gallagher and Marian Heffernan have in common? They've all committed to getting back on their bikes this summer and becoming Series Cyclists for the 2014 An Post Cycle Series. The five event series, supported by An Post in partnership with the Irish Sports Council, take place over the summer from May to September in Sligo, Clare, Meath, Waterford and Cork.
This is the sixth year of An Post Cycle Series, and almost 50,000 people have saddled up since the very first event took place in Sligo in May 2009. 16,500 people got on their bikes in 2013, a 300% increase on the numbers who took part that first year, and PJ Gallagher (pictured below) was one of them: “I’d forgotten the sense of freedom you experience as a kid when you are able to really cycle properly, just get on your bike and go. I committed to doing the Meath event last year, but I enjoyed it so much that I went on to do the Cork tour as well. And here I am, back again for my punishment this year. I guess you could say I'm hooked on the cycling buzz now.” said Gallagher at the launch.
Paul Galvin, who recently retired from Kerry’s inter county set-up, has come on board as an ambassador for the Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford and he is hoping that putting in some hours in the saddle will help him to keep fit.
“This will be my first year in a long time that I won’t be involved in Championship training this summer and I'm looking forward to the different challenges that brings. I’ll certainly be keeping fit and there’s no better way than to get out onto the local roads on your bike. The An Post Cycle Series is a great initiative which allows every type of cyclist the opportunity to get involved, so I’d urge people to sign up to their local Tour and become a Series Cyclist.”
Each event of the Cycle Series caters for every type of cyclist, from families to serious amateurs with a variety of routes ranging from a family 10k spin to the more challenging 56k, 60k, 100k, and 160k distances. One of the big successes of the series has been the growth in both families and female participants with an increase of 10% year on year. Cork athlete Marian Heffernan is leading the way for the women this summer.
“I’ve found cycling to be a great safe way for me to get back to full fitness after the birth of my daughter earlier this year, and it’s also something I love to do with the kids. We are all about keeping out of the car and seeing the countryside by foot or by bike anyway, so I’m delighted to be an ambassador for these events” she said.
At the launch Irish Sports Council Chief Executive John Treacy expressed his support for the cycling participation events.
“This event is for everybody, all ages and all fitness levels, and is all about encouraging people to get active through cycling and developing habits of regular exercise which will ultimately lead to enhanced quality of life.”
The 2014 An Post Cycle Series gets underway on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th May with the An Post Tour of Sligo. This will be followed by the An Post Tour De Burren in Clare on Saturday, 21st June, while the An Post Meath Heritage Cycle Tour will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 26th/27th July. The Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford takes place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday, 24th August and finally the An Post Rebel Tour of Cork will be on Saturday, 13th September. Each county’s event is organised by the Irish Sports Council’s Local Sports Partnerships in conjunction with their city, county and cycling club partners.
As part of the 2014 Cycle Series campaign, An Post will launch a competition in March to find five Cycle Series 'Spokestars' who will win great prizes, set their cycling goals and keep track of their progress along the way- watch out on Facebook/anpostcycling for more details.