Galway Bay Cycling Club is passionate about cycling - we cater for all cyclists of all abilities in and around Galway city. We have a very active club with over 90 members of all ages with something to suit everyone.
Every Sunday the club operates a number of spins from various locations. Please take a look at the Training Routes and Times at left here. On Thursday evenings from April to September we have a handicapped club league race where all club members are welcome to take part. On any given day you'll find a group of Galway Bay Cyclists out on the roads around Galway.
Results for tonight's league race. Cut short due to traffic restrictions in Barna.
1. Alan Cunningham 2. Eoghan McArdle Ruane 3. Dave Nugent 4. Ruaidhri Geraghty 5. Morgan McHugh 6. Tom Regan 7. Alan Cawley 8. Padraic Forde 9. John Murphy 10. Sean Duignan 11. Marty Mannion 12. Feidhlim Duignan 13. Paul Kavanagh 14. Marie Boyle 15. Michael McWeeney
Some time ago Mick asked me to write a post from the perspective of a female racing cyclist. 3 months later, I have finally run out of excuses to put this off (sorry Mick!), so see below. I’ll continue to update with racing experiences from time to time after events.
So, you're a lady, you've been cycling for a while and you've decided to get into racing. Congratulations! You've shown that gender is no barrier to madness. Honestly, amateur bike racing is a bit nuts. Using your previous off time to traipse around the country, paying for the privilege to risk life, limb and carbon components with a bunch of randomers on unfamiliar roads. Unless you've been at it from a young age or grown up around bike racers, this is a daunting world to step into, regardless of gender. Nonetheless, it must be said that Irish bike racing sees a huge disparity in participation rates between men and women, so us of the XX chromosomes face some additional challenges – and upsides.
I first dipped my toe into racing just over a year ago, having taken up cycling itself around 2011/2012. In Connacht the racing scene is as sprawling as the countryside, and the majority of ladies about the place don't seem content with a bike ride unless it’s sandwiched between a swim and a run. So with not much of a ladies cycling 'scene', it can be hard to know where to start. I would highly recommend looking up race leagues run by local clubs and getting stuck in. These races combine the congeniality and banter of a club spin with the gut-busting workout of a race effort. Trust me, the finish line for these races is contested just as hotly as many an A2+ race! Which is great, because that means it's an excellent way to gauge your ability level in comparison to other folks into racing, and give you the confidence boost and confirmation (if you need it) that you're able for open races. For the ladies this comparison may not be so straightforward (in my local club league there are but 2 oor 3 of us who regularly participate). Nonetheless if you're holding on with the bunch for the majority of the course on a flat stage you're just as fit as many an A4 male rider. And if not this gives you a goal to work towards and a forum in which to gauge your improvements. Provided you're not sitting on the couch for the week between races, if you stick at it, try to hold the wheel a little longer each week you will get there, and you'll learn a lot of race technique along the way.
These races also put you in touch with other folks in the local area who are into racing. When you travel to open races as a mostly lone female, it is surprisingly encouraging to see some friendly faces, even if they're racing in another division. Depending on the race and who shows up, you could be one of only two females participating so you can feel a little bit self-conscious. The upshot of this is that people (in my experience) tend to be tremendously encouraging and supportive of female riders in Connacht races. It’s nice to get your own cheer as you cross the finish line, even if it’s minutes down on the pack. :) To this end, I thought I'd encounter more patronizing attitudes, but from what I've seen, people who sniff at those less capable than then will do so regardless of gender. As in any aspect of life, don’t let these jerks get you down – it’s very unlikely that they were pushing an easy 400W from the first day they threw their leg over a tricycle. They were once just like you and just haven’t been gracious enough to remember that.
Another upshot of a small female field (aside from seeing he tables turned on the lads when it comes to the toilet queue) is that you tend to spot each other from afar and become firm friends. Obviously you are still trying to beat each other, but there's a camaraderie from mutual recognition that you both got here somewhat against the odds. Perhaps this isn't the case in geographies which have a more prevalent ladies cycling scheme, where ladies are the norm not the novelty and there may be more open rivalries and hostilities. I've heard third hand from the husband of a lady who used to do a lot of racing in the East that the ladies racing scene was "bitchy", but frankly I suspect this description may have been tainted by male bias. Does being "bitchy" mean that a group of ladies were giving out about somebody who did something dumb or didn't take their turn at the front during the race? Funny, when men do this it's called chatting......Anyways, over here in the Wesht where we're all lovely there's none of this.
As for the races themselves, well, I still have some work to do on those. I’ve done around 6 or 7 open races, only one of which was female only. The mixed racing is hard, there’s no bones about it, but fair to say it’s hard for everybody. At the end of the day, the legs have to have it. I’d also add, the nerve has to hold! I was never one for sports in my “youth” (I didn’t even know what a sliotar was until I worked in a toy shop), the hurly burly of strange bodies around me is new, never mind ones kipping along at >40km/hr. There’s nothing to do for this but to keep doing it, and if at all possible, try not to overthink it. I trust that the more open races I do the more relaxed I will feel. I’m basing this on my league race experience – I distinctly remember how petrified I was in the middle of the group during my first few races last spring. One year on and another dozen league races under my belt, my ease and comfort in the group has come on leaps and bounds, leaving my mind free to get on with the important business of trying to keep my breathing under control, looking for the wheel to follow, and thinking up excuses as to why I lost to Marie AGAIN.
I got into racing because I’d developed a pretty good level of fitness without trying too hard, and I wanted something that would motivate me to push harder. Your reasons may differ. Perhaps you’re competitive and love to win, perhaps you want to set yourself a personal challenge, or perhaps you really do like the hurly burly of strange bodies around you (hey, no judgement here). Whatever the reason, the benefits are the same. Even if you never win a race or never get out of your division, racing is an excellent way to take your fitness to the next level, make new friends and to convince yourself that you really do need new gear. Sure what’s the worst that can happen, you finish behind the bunch? Been there, me and a load of blokes as well, might I add. Turns out the world keeps turning and you’re not shunned at the next big cycling meet-up. So what have you got to lose?! Except the race that is…. ... See MoreSee Less