10 years of cycling in Co. Meath

Meath Heritage Cycle tour ambassadors 2018: Saoirse McGrath (Meath Rose 2018) & Cillian O Sullivan (Meath footballer). Also Sophie Deegan (Enable Ireland – nominated charity for 2018 event)

2018 sees the Meath Heritage Cycle tour celebrate its 10th year. Since the first cyclist took to the roads in 2009 up to last year, 21,885 cyclists have participated in the tour. The tour reached its peak in 2014 with 3500 cyclists.

In 2009, the tour commenced with 3 distances – 40km Tara Loop; 100km Royal Tour & 160km Royal Challenge. The 11km Family spin was introduced in 2010 and has been hugely popular ever since. Numbers participating in the family spin have grown from just over 100 in 2010 to almost 900 in 2017 – popularity of this distance can be partly attributed to the welcome received from Mary & Jack Quinns in Scurlorgstown who annually open up their premises to provide refreshments to all the participating cyclists. In 2011, the 40km distance became a 50km spin and has remained the same ever since.

Cyclists taking part in the 50km very much enjoy the ascent onto the Hill of Tara with its magnificent views, the eagerly awaited muffin and the welcome provided by the team from Maguires cafe and local volunteers.

Our 100km & 160km distances have changed routes over the years from taking in the climbs around Lough Carew to the mandatory cuppa in Bohermeen. From Loughanlea and the climbs around Cormeen to the Hills of Skryne, Slane and Sliabh Breagh – cyclists have seen many a by road in Meath which they may otherwise have never visited. Ryans Pub of Gormanlough has been a main water stop on the tour since 2009; 2018 will be the first year that the tour doesn`t include a stop at this popular watering hole.

Speaking at the launch of this year`s cycle tour event, organiser Mary Murphy (Coordinator of Meath Local Sports Partnership) thanked everyone for their continued support over the past 10 years in running a very successful and popular event. She paid tribute to the local communities who come out in force each year to open up their facilities and to provide a warm welcome to all cyclists. Since 2009, over 3700 volunteers have provided assistance to the event – without their support, the event just wouldn`t have happened.

She went on to acknowledge the tremendous support which Sport Ireland and An Post (main sponsor from 2009 – 2016) have provided; this is in addition to the support provided by Meath County Council, Gardai, Meath Civil Defence, Cycle clubs, OPW, Dunnes Stores, AES, Cycling Ireland, LMFM, Meath Chronicle, Aura Leisure Trim, SPIN 11, Bike Fit Studio, Trim Tidy Towns, Trim Castle Hotel and local sports clubs.

Local charities have benefitted greatly from their involvement with the cycle tour. Over the years – Meath Alzheimers Society, Friends of St Josephs in Trim and Enable Ireland have all served their time as the nominated charity for the event.

Over the years a number of well known faces and celebrities have taken part in the tour – comedian PJ Gallagher was the tour ambassador for 3 years with Bressie taking over the role in 2016. From the UK Ambassador, Dominic Chilpott to cycling legends of Philip Cassidy, Joe Barr, PJ Nolan & the Paralympic Cycling team to the sporting greats of Trevor Giles, Colm O Rourke & Eoin O Gara (Dublin) – the Meath Heritage Cycle tour is grateful to all for their participation and support of the event.

On a sadder note, it would be very remiss not to mention the contribution that cycling greats Joe Roche and Gay Howard gave to the tour particularly in the early years. Joe was responsible for route selection and very much enjoyed bringing cyclists up the hills and on lesser travelled routes! Gay acted as a mentor to the tour and was always on hand to give advice.

The event just would not be the same without the presence of our Master of Ceremonies – Eamonn Duffy. Eamonn is well known in cycling circles and always has an encouraging word for returning cyclists.

In the 10 years of the event, the Meath Heritage Cycle Tour has been shortlisted for the Meath Business Tourism Award and nominated Cycling Ireland Best Sportive. It has contributed greatly to boosting the local economy of Trim & surrounds and continues to be responsible for a high return of visitor numbers to the area each year.  The Meath Heritage Cycle tour has become a well established calendar event not only on the Meath calendar but nationally on the calendar of cycle enthusiasts.

The Heritage Cycle tour will return for the 10th on the 28th & 29th July. The family spin will take place at 5pm on the 28th (registration on the day) with the 100k & 50k taking place on Sun 29th. Early bird registration is now open – see www.meathsports.ie/cycle-tour or contact Meath Sports at 046 9067337.

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