When the Chain Gang Cycling Club first came together amid the confusion and devastation of the foot and mouth outbreak in the early 21st century, the initial aim of this band of hill walkers was to keep a fit and healthy set of individuals, fit and healthy. The hills and mountains where a no go area, so they took to the roads and used the Ring of Kerry charity cycle as their ultimate goal.
Once this cycling lark started getting serious, the goal was to encourage more budding cyclists away from their leisurely solo spins around the Tralee area, and introduce them to all the attractions and excitement of group cycling. Tralee was always a prominent racing town in the cycling circles and leisure cycling was somewhat overlooked by the various cycling bodies and their members. The Chain Gang plugged that gap quite nicely.
Much has happened since. The club has grown to 160 plus members. The members have embraced everything from long distance cycling to racing to club holidays. The club and it’s membership have grown at such a rate where it was deemed necessary to sub-divide the club into groups according to ability. Hence the 30, 28, 25 and 22 groups. We’ve managed this to varying degrees of success. We’re certainly not the perfect club, but we try our best to get it right.
Despite all our achievements over the years with umpteen Rings of Kerry cycles done as well as various sportives and the occasional A4 racing successes, it is at times worth hitting the pause button, and remembering the clubs founding principles. As mentioned previously….. bringing new people onboard and guiding and encouraging them that little bit further on the road to the joys of group cycling.
Our 22 group is the first step for a number of our club members. If the Chain Gang CC is a lake, then the 22 group is its source. Takeaway the source and the lake just might dry up! Hence the need to look after the new comers as well as the people who are quite content to go and do a steady 40-50 km at a relaxed pace.
So with the history side of things out-of-the-way, today we started with the first Sociable-Flat-Short cycles. An initiative to encourage new and “sleeping” members to get back onto their bikes and give themselves a flying start for next spring with a series of winter cycles.
Off we go!
So off we went from the 9 am meeting point at the Meadowlands hotel to the seaside.
With the weather giving us a break from the high winds and unpredictability of the last 2 weeks it was special to be able to cycle around the coast without being blown off the road or soaked to the skin.
The route took us out along the “skinny mile” cycle path in Tralee, before joining onto the Ardfert road and out to Banna Cross. The roads were quiet, the pace was relaxed and what breeze there was, blew gently onto our backs. With conditions as they where, we couldn’t resist an unscheduled stop at Banna beach were we paused and chatted for five minutes while taking in the splendour of one of Ireland’s finest strips of sand.
With a small double back we soon got back on route to Fenit taking in Casements monument, Barrow harbour, Churchill and Fenit village. Fenit was the ideal stopping off point for a coffee and pastry and although it wasn’t a lap of luxury it was a welcome stop all the same. The break revitalised us as Ann and Mags took control at the front and set a nice pace towards Spa. Once more we headed off the beaten track where we went along the leafy laneways of the Kerries before descending into Lohercannon and finishing off with a delightful spin alongside the old Tralee to Blennerville railway and back into town via Ballyard.
I have to say that this was a very enjoyable way to spend 2-3 hours and in delightful company. Long may this type of cycling continue.
The Chain Gang 22 group cycles every Saturday at 9 am from the Meadowlands. Expect a ride of around 40 to 50 km at a relaxed pace. All are welcome!