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Teamwork the key as cycling club go 750km To Kells and Back for charity

The fledgling Kilkenny club aim to make the four-day round trip into an annual event.

IF YOU’RE ON the road next weekend, be on the lookout, because the first (potentially) annual To Kells and Back ultra-cycle will be in full flow.

From Thursday May 29, the 20 members of the brilliantly-named Kells Angels Cycling Club will be undertaking a four-day, 750km, tour of Ireland in the name of the Make A Wish Foundation and the development of local sports facilities.

To date, says committee member Brian Hughes, they have raised in excess of €4,000 for the cause with the majority of support coming from the local businesses that surround the Kilkenny town.

The tour will take the members of the fledgling cycling club from Kells in Co. Kilkenny to Kells in Meath, back south to Mullingar, and that’s just on day one.

Day two will take the troop 173km down the road to Adare before heading for Kells Co Kerry with the third night is spent in Killarney. From there, just 190km will separate them from their own beds.

“Some of the guys were doing the Ring of Kerry and passed through Kells in Killorglin,” explains Hughes. ”It grew legs then – after a couple of pints…

“One of the guys in our club is from Kells in County Meath, and between that and seeing the Kells in Killorglin we decided to go. Somebody threw in the smart comment that there’s a Kells in Antrim as well, but that was quickly quashed.

“We have an opportunity to do something completely different. Maybe only the Mizen Head to Malin Head would be similar. But they would doing over a week what we’re doing in four days.”

To keep to that gruelling schedule and put an average daily distance of 187 km behind them, the group must work as an extra-large team, battling to keep one another going rather than leaving stragglers behind.

kells and back Source: Kells Angels CC

While each cyclist is capable of faster, Kells Angels have agreed on a minimum target speed of 25 kilometres per hour to keep the balance between a solid efficient pace and avoiding early burnout for this group of amateurs.

Teamwork runs strong in the Kilkenny club long before they hit the road too. Modern work and irregular shift patterns means that getting the whole group together to cycle on a regular basis is almost impossible. The club use their Facebook page to coordinate training times; posting their individual plans for, say, a 120km spin on the off chance there is anybody around to join them.

Prepared

Logistically, the hotels and food stops for To Kells and Back have also been planned ahead, with preference for stopovers where a massage or a pool could be made available to speed up their recovery. In addition to that, physio Roger Thomas and dietician Jackie Varley are on the team and play central roles in preparing the group for the torture that their legs will go through next weekend.

Whether in the gym or on the road, the hard work is done for the 20 cyclists, and if you see them on the road this weekend they will be likely be in the saddle merely to keep their bodies ticking over and make final tweaks ahead of the daily trips of 205, 173,182 and 190 kilometres that are to come

All going well, the club hope to use this inaugural tour to ‘learn from their mistakes’ before making it an annual event, opening up To Kells and Back to more than just this hard-working rural club.

Visit the Kells Angels Ultra Cycle club on their Facebook page.

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Sean Farrell

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