March 23, 2010 by Irish Peloton
I received news over the weekend that the Irish Peloton blog is a finalist in the 2010 Irish Blog Awards. This came as a surprise no doubt, but a thoroughly welcome one at that. Irish Peloton will be up against the Back Page Football, Arseblog, Green and Red, and Sport is a TV Show.
I started writing this blog last September mostly as something to take my mind of the thesis I’m supposed to be writing. To write about the sport that I love is great, I enjoy it immensely. My Dad (who writes his own blog about being a professional Irish Traditional musician) was the one who first got me into cycling. Back in the days before the Internet and Sky Digital the only cycling that was on TV was the half hour highlights shows provided by Channel 4 in the evening after each stage of the Tour de France. Myself and my Dad would sit down to watch them together and he would diligently record each half hour show on to VHS always remembering to press pause when the ads came on, but even more importantly, remembering to unpause again when the ads were over. After the Tour was over, we’d be left with two full VHS tapes of the Tour highlights which I watched over and over until the following July. The first Tour I watched was in 1992 when Miguel Indurain’s domination was becoming increasingly apparent. I loved the manic sprinting of Djamolodin Abdoujaparov and the swashbuckling Claudio Chiapucci. I remember being hugely impressed by his solo effort up to Sestriére. I also remember in the 1993 Tour de France watching with disbelief as Mario Cipollini won a bunch sprint on one of the early stages without even lifting his arse off the saddle!
Unfortunately for me, my interest in cycling began just as the careers of Stephen Roche and Seán Kelly were coming to an end. I never appreciated first hand the domination of Kelly in the classics or Roche’s amazing year in 1987. Obviously I’ve watched and read everything I can get my hands on since, but it won’t beat having been there watching their success as it was unfolding.
As the Lance Armstrong era dawned, as did my introduction to alcohol and the root of all evil: girls! The fact that Roche and Kelly were retired and there was no longer an Irish rider in the pro peloton had an affect on my Dad’s interest in the sport which also rubbed off on me. Add this to my increasing obsession with all things Man United and it’s safe to say that my interest in cycling waned.
But in recent years my love for professional cycling has been reborn. The catalyst for my reawakening funnily enough came while I was on holiday in Thailand. One of the few things that was being broadcast in English in the place I was staying on Ko Pha Ngan was the live coverage of each day’s Tour stage. This coupled with the fact that one of the few English language magazines that was on sale in the local bookshop was an issue of Pro Cycling magazine, I was hooked again. This rekindled interest, in a nicely symmetrical way, has coincided with the rise and rise of the three young Irish riders Martin, Roche and Deignan.
I found myself purchasing back issues of Pro Cycling and Cycle Sport magazines, sourcing people on the internet who would burn me copies of old races from their own personal collections, buying every cycling book I could get my hands on. I had read and watched so much cycling I felt like I could try my hand at writing about it myself. So I did.
Thanks to everybody who reads what I write, if anyone enjoys reading it half as much as I enjoy writing it then I think I’m doing OK. The Irish Blog Awards takes place this Saturday in Galway, the other blogs all seem far more professional than mine, but, you never know!