Kieran McDermott has enjoyed another good year on his bicycle. The veteran Doochary cyclist was competing once again on the Ridgeway Roules Sportive cycling series in the UK in 2018.
The Ridgeway Roules Sportive cycling series is run by the UCI, the organisation that runs big cycling events like the Tour De France.
It is a series of road races run over between 100 and 250 miles in length in the UK and across Europe.
Kieran, who is 42, began competing in the series six years ago.
“I had a mighty year in the series this year. It was my best since I first started,” said Kieran.
“I was joint winner of the Ridgeway Roules race in London back in the summer. I shared the top spot with an English rider.”
In all Kieran competed in seven races in the course of the year and these races varied in length from 100 to 250 miles and hecompleted them all inside the allocated time
“A very strange thing happened in the London race. I was leading with about ten miles to go when a four man English team cycled up beside me and asked me if I was interested in a joint finish.
“We’re not sure of your tactics, one of them said. I wasn’t sure about them either and I wasn’t sure if they were serious or were just trying to pull one over on me.
“But I decided to go with the idea because the way I figured it there was four of them and I was on my own and I was afraid if I took them on they would wear me down.
“In fairness to them they were true to their word and we all crossed the finish line, the five of us, together and to be honest I surprised myself in that race.
“The way those races work you are given a set time of maybe four and half or five hours, depending obviously on the length, and the target is to finish inside that time.
“The way they work it. They have a fleet of vans, maybe up to 45 to 50, and they start to follow the race 20 minutes after the last rider leaves the start line.
“They travel at 25 mph and your objective is to stay ahead of them because when they catch you your race is over and you are out.
“These races are big events; you might have up to 15,000 riders competing; that was the number that took part in the London race and at the start of the year there was something like 250,000 entrants but it was whittled down to the 15,000 through a qualifying process of points picked up in other races.
“It is hugely popular series in England and is very well supported with thousands of people lining the streets as you go through the towns and villages on the route.
“I often have a good chuckle to myself when I see the crowds on the streets and the Sky camera’s honing in on me and think to myself this is a long way from when I started out cycling first where the grass was growing on the middle of the road.”
Kieran, like all young boys, had a bicycle growing up but it is only in the last six years that he took up as a sport and began competing competitively.
And it was a visit to his local doctor, Kevin Bonner, that led to him getting on his bike and taking to the highways and byways in West Donegal.
“I’m a plant hire contractor and I have been driving machines since I was a very young boy, spending 10 to 12 hours a day sitting on a machine.
“About seven/ eight years ago my body started to stiffen up. So I went to Dr Bonner and he took one look at me and he said Kieran your body has become moulded into the shape of the seat of the machine.
“That is what is causing your pain and stiffness, you need to get exercising and walking if you are to correct the problem.”
Kieran wasn’t very sporty and didn’t play any sports as a young lad growing up.
He tried walking and it didn’t work out. He could make no headway with people stopping to talk to him.
So he tried cycling. “I had cycled a lot as a young lad because I started to drive machines when I was eight so needed a bike to cycle to jobs.
“I remember the first evening I took the bike out I went about a mile and could go no further and had to walk home.
“I went out the following evening and I went about a mile and a half up the road and cycled home and it took off after that and I gradually built up the miles.”
That was a little over seven years ago and the following year Kieran was competing in his first race in the UK.
“I have a sister living in England and she told me about the Ridgeway Roules series and invited me over for a race and I have been going over and back ever since. I was over seven times this year and my next big race is in Berlin in July and I’ve already started training for it.
“It is a very demanding sport and you really have to put in the work and the miles. I do three hours a day on the bike, seven days a week all year round. It can be tough sometimes to head out on the bike after maybe ten hours on the digger. But it has to be done if I want to stay competitive.”