“What started off as a passion, quickly led to a commercial opportunity,” says Donegal-man and Events Company owner Hugh Bonner.
The Errigal Cycling Club member has long hailed the many benefits of the sport as “making you wealthy in so many ways.” So, with Ireland’s first Cycling Show to take place at the main hall of the Simmonscourt Pavilion at the RDS, Dublin on May 19th and 20th 2012, the momentum is already building.
Lined up in a cycle-cade at Dublin’s Mansion House for the recent launch, eite, novice, veteran, budding and stunt cyclists joined Lord Mayor Andrew Montague for a photo call to announce the May event.
“Cycling is a sport that anyone can get involved in. From 8-80, it is never too late to take it up,” says Lord Mayor Montague, who himself is an avid cyclist.
Andrew Hudson is not waiting until he’s eight. The three-year-old displayed his burgeoning talent when he joined the cycle-cade on a modern strider bike which has no pedals or stabilisers.
At the other end of the age spectrum, 70-year old racing legend Sean Lally from Swords Cycling Club has been cycling all his life and remains a force to be reckoned with in IVCA competition. Asked if he thought it might be time to give up the saddle, he quickly replied“Sure, why would I? I’m fit, healthy and still competitive in age group racing. It’s a sport for life!”
The many benefits of cycling have led to a focus on the sport at government level. A report by the Irish Bicycle Business Association (IBBA) shows that the Irish Cycling Economy is valued at €138.68 million following the introduction of the Cycle to Work Scheme in 2009. Junior Minister Alan Kelly is also said to be developing the 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework with a view to making cycling more accessible for us as a nation and also for tourists.
Meanwhile the opportunities in cycling tourism, environment and health are all reasons why cycling is fast becoming Ireland’s hottest and fastest growing sport.
Kerry’s Michelle Geoghegan is a former National Women’s League winner racing full time in Belgium. “Women are becoming more and more involved in cycling at all levels and even in the last few years I’ve seen a huge lift in women’s participation. I love seeing and hearing about female involvement in a sport that has traditionally been male dominated.”
Hugh Bonner says: “The Irish Cycling Show will feature exhibitors from every facet of cycling and related industry including cycle retailers and distributors and there will also be emphasis on general feature attractions to entertain the whole family.
“Plans in the pipeline include a test track around the venue, demonstrations, shows and seminars throughout the weekend. As well as cycle sales companies we’ll have exhibitors involved in coaching, cycling holidays, nutrition, health and cycle sport administration,” he concluded.
For more information on the Irish Cycling Show log onto www.irishcyclingshow.ie or find us on facebook or follow @IrishCycleShow on twitter.