Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Oakleaf Cycle Slam

I have never cycled home in the dark before, but I hope I never have to again.  It happened last night on a training cycle with the Oakleaf Cycle Slam team.  It was a great cycle, but it made me realise that I need to invest in lights for my bike. 
I joined the lads in Moneyneana, but they were late due to the questionable organisation skills of team leader Chris Collins.  We headed into Draperstown, past Screen pitch.  I resisted the temptation to go spy on Ballinascreen’s pre championship preparations. 
Despite our first encounter with a dog, we headed on towards Sperrin and the climb up Sawel.  The fast descent heading for Park nearly came a cropper with a second run in of the night with a dog.  With daylight hours fading, a change of route took us towards Feeney.
All was going ahead of schedule until a double puncture for Paul Duffy.  Front and back wheel, both at the same time, a first in the history of cycling.  The pit stop was led by Ronan McCloskey and Richard Ferris before we were on our way. 
After the sprint into Dungiven, the peleton split, with the South Derry contingent heading off over the Birren, with light fading.  It certainly was a tough way to finish the cycle.  Scullion stopped in the middle to get this sponsored walk sheet filled in.  Next was the descent down into Moneyneana and thankfully everyone got home safe.
Destination Paris
Le Grand Départ
I would like to wish the boys all the best in their challenge ahead.  On Sunday 14th August, the Oakleaf Cycle Slam team will set off on a 732 mile journey from Dungiven to Paris, the dream destination for any cyclist.  Who will win the Champs-Élysées sprint finish?  Collins, Scullion, Stewart, Magee or Ferris.
On last night’s cycle former Derry player Richard Ferris let me in on his training schedule.  Basically from September he has been training with Cathal Magee.  Every Tuesday and Thursday (30-40miles) with a longer run on a Sunday.
Chris Collins has recovered from a serious knee injury and on last night’s showing is looking good for the polka dot King of the Mountains jersey.  Last night Emmet Stewart was sporting a full HTC High Road kit and with a new Ridley bike is rumoured to be taking over from Mark Cavendish who is to join Team Sky.
Diarmuid Scullion however was sketchy on this training schedule.  However, Chris has informed me that the Bellaghy man has been doing most of his preparation at a top secret Monaghan  training camp.
However, the most important part of their team is the Directeur Sportif, Ruairi Convery, but on the continent the media just know him as “The Swa”.  The video from last year’s Slam indicated the vital role he played.  He doubled up as the team’s Transport and Entertainments Manager.
So all the best lads, 732 miles from the windswept landscape of Owenbeg to the iconic Arc de Triomphe.
Parlez-Vous Francais?

Here are some links with more information.

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