Tandem Cycling Ireland Spalding Spin

On Saturday the 24th April, 5 Tandems from Ireland took part in the BOLD (Blind Outdoor Leisure Development) Tandem Marathon in Spalding, Lincolnshire, UK. We had travelled over on Friday and of course that evening sat down to a discussion of what lay ahead and our tactics over a pasta supper. Ehhh… no, after a long bus journey, some of us more professional athletes retired to our rooms for a rest while others went in search of some local alcoholic beverages!!

The Winning Team

Our Tandem Cycling Ireland Team were as follows:
Stoker Pilot
Derek Mc Namara Bernie Mc Nally
Mark Keogh Ian Mahon
Seamas Kelly Denis Twomey
Sr Brid Smith Audrey Lewis
Michelle Toner Kevin Sutton
Gerry Beggs – Mechanic and Team Manager

On Saturday the conditions were great. The weather was fantastic and I had never seen a flatter course. It was a nice change from the lovely hills that we would usually struggle up in North Co Dublin. We got plenty of a warm up, owing to the fact that some of us managed to get lost and actually cycle a few miles past the meeting area which was of course hard to spot (with about 50 tandems of all shapes and sizes!). We waited anxiously for the start, with was very punctual at one-minute intervals. Sr Brid and Audrey were off first, followed by Michelle and Kevin. Off next were Mark and Ian, whose chain broke at the start and luckily were given another start time. They were followed by Seamas and Denis. Finally, Derek and myself were given the green light… at this stage I was shaking from all the carbs that had been eaten!! (not from nerves of course!) I’m sure that there are only so many bars and gels that can be consumed before you explode!!

‘Pilot & Stoker’

We took off like rockets…. Or so I thought, until we were passed out by a couple a few miles out the road, as if we were standing still. At least they smiled at us and said hello, us two just about managing a response!! We pushed hard all the way round, it was a flat course but there was no freewheeling and a slight head wind the whole way round. There were plenty of sharp corners that are great craic on a tandem at 25mph when you don’t know the route. We were well worn out at 2 miles to go, we let off the handbrake and really sprinted for it. The great thing about a tandem is that there is always someone there to listen to you suffer… well… they have no choice really… so apologies Derek for any abuse that was roared in your direction…!!

We managed to complete the marathon in 1 hour 14 mins 35 seconds, which earned us second place in the mixed category. Our top three times: Ian and Mark at 1.08.32, Seamus and Denis at 1.10.40 and Derek and myself at 1.14.35 landed us with the team prize. Of course there was a session to follow, with some very funny dancing which you can only imagine looked like after a few beers and legs like lead… Sadly we made our way back to Holyhead on Sunday after a very rewarding weekend.
So I think that I have found my niche in cycling, why suffer on a solo bike when you can let your partner do all the work on a tandem….??

Heading for the Bar!