At the Connacht Cycling Awards night on Saturday the 4th of December there was much anticipation as to who would win the various awards in the categories ranging from sportive to racers to the great number of clubs in the region.
Sure enough, Innisfree Wheelers came top of the pile when it came to the best Leisure Cycling Club
A number of Wheelers members both past and present were there including Connacht Leisure rep John Greene, former club Chairman Seamus McGowan, Hugh Bennett and Darren Clancy to see our Chairperson Alan Kelly accept the award on behalf of our one hundred plus members.
Innisfree Wheelers was founded in 2005 as a result of a number of prominent local cyclists coming towards the end of their racing days. It was decided then that the club would be primarily a leisure cycling club. The timing could not have been better, because this was just at a new beginning of the leisure cycling boom that would last until the present day.
The club quickly grew from just twelve members initially to one hundred and thirty at its peak in 2019. However, in 2020, Covid caused numbers to drop slightly but thankfully in 2021, numbers have increased again with over one hundred members this year.
Over fifty per cent of our members are now female and we can boast one octogenarian, Eddie Ryan and three septuagenarians, Pamela Benson, Rosemary McLaren and Brendan Brogan among our membership.
The club has raised around €80,000 for local charities over the years and boasts being the initiators of some unique events such as the Ladies only Lough Gill Tour and the recently held Annual Santa Cycle.
As an all-inclusive club, we have been involved in such projects as the Rickshaw project for patients in a local hospital, and also some of our members have been active with tandem cycling for people with sight impairment. And many of our members coach and promote beginner cycling for adults who may not have been on a bike for years.
Our four Sunday group spins and two Tuesday and Thursday groups are now legendary and are unrivalled certainly in Connacht if not throughout Ireland. The 9am Sunday group caters for the more experienced cyclist who prefer a lively spin over a longer distance. Two of our three ten o’clock spins then cater for cyclists who prefer a more leisurely pace while the third spin is catering for absolute beginners’ cyclists who may want to try leisure cycling in a group environment.
Although a leisure club, about a dozen of our members also take part in a local Cycling racing and time trial league held each Summer. Yeats CC, Eire Og CC and Bottecchia CC are the other local clubs participating in this league.
The clubs are always welcoming new members. If anyone wants to join us, they are most welcome and can get in touch via our website www.innisfreewheelers.com or by contacting our secretary Anne Osborne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Newbies can come along to IT Sligo any Sunday morning and try out one of our group spins before committing to joining us. Full coaching and training will be provided for new members.
After all we are now recognized as the best Leisure Cycling Club in Connacht – and maybe eventually the best club in Ireland!