The Future of Women’s Cycling in Ireland Looks Bright

Last weekend, the 9th and 10th Feb., a training camp was held in the Avon Rí hotel, Blessington for the Women’s National Development and Neenan Travel 2020 squads. It saw 28 girls, ranging in age from under 12 to senior, taking part in training activities under the guidance of National Women’s Coach Gillian McDarby and Neenan Travel 2020 Coach Orla Hendron.

As well as training, there were interesting and informative talks from Head Development Coach Paddy Doran and Dr. Siobhán Jacob.

We all enjoyed the easy roll out. I’m at the front chatting to Gillian. Paddy Doran can be seen driving support. Heather Boyle drove the second support vehicle for us.

Saturday saw some rare almost sunny conditions and so the 4 junior and 9 senior members of the National Development Squad rolled out in relative comfort. Although the pleasant weather lasted, 3 laps of Saggart and the Embankment in Wicklow soon sorted out the feeling of comfort. For those of you who may not be familiar with these roads, they go up… and up!

After some recovery time, Gillian had us working hard again. We completed two threshold efforts before arriving back at the hotel. 78km of climbing and efforts, we had definitely earned our lunch.

This, however, was no picnic.

Nutritionist, Beth McCluskey, presented each house with ingredients, recipes and the challenge of serving up the tastiest healthy meal. With six staying in each house, the cooking was short work and dinner was all the more satisfying.

We were less fortunate with the weather on Sunday. Although it didn’t impinge on the 2020 Squad’s plans of going mountain biking, conditions were too dangerous for the Development Squad’s road spin up the Wicklow mountains. Any hopes of an easy alternative were soon quashed however, with a 50 minute turbo session followed by what felt like a marathon circuit session. (I’m definitely expecting to wake up with a six pack…)

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Huge thanks to all who were involved in the organisation, in particular Gillian and Orla. I’ve no doubt it’ll aid the makings of a successful season and help to encourage the growth of women’s cycling in Ireland.

Formation was disciplined and group riding was steady.
Photos courtesy of