Foyle Cycling Club members were out in force for the recent tenth anniversary celebration dinner in the City Hotel.
The large turnout showed just how far the club has come since it first took to the roads of Derry, Donegal and Tyrone in 2003.
From an initial membership of about ten people, the club’s ranks have swollen to include more than 150 members of all ages, levels of experience and cycling preferences.
Long term member Charlie Nicell explained that the club is riding high in its tenth year. “From beginners covering 20 miles, tours and one day events around Europe, road racing and mountain biking, the club now caters for all types.”
The club has also helped to springboard local cyclists to professional standing such as Ronan McLaughlin from Muff who rides on Sean Kelly’s An Post team and youngster Matthew Doyle who is currently on a fast track to professional cycling in Belgium.
Ronan was joined for the prizegiving at the anniversary bash by Letterkenny cyclist Philip Deignam who has recently risen to the pinnacle of world cycling by signing for Team Sky, where he joins Tour de France winners Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
Although it has produced and is home to some very talented and hardened cyclists - as the growing number of members will testify - FCC’s door is open to peddlers of all abilities.
At Team FCC the spirit of camaraderie in cycling is alive and well and is obvious to all to who turn up on often dreary winter’s mornings on Saturdays and Sundays to take to the roads. Club riders gather in their many dozens at Templemore Sports Complex. In all but the most harsh of Irish weather conditions, the keen cyclists brave weekly runs to Inishowen, wider Co Donegal, Co Derry or Co Tyrone.
The club has a rich and exciting history as it marks its tenth anniversary in 2013, members having displayed the club colours in some of Europe’s most famous cyclosportives including the tough Alpine challenge, La Marmotte in France and the historic Tour of Flanders in Belgium.
Female cyclists now make up 25% of the club, with a sharp increase in members taking place over the last few years.
Founder member Ciaran Hampson said the club has become totally transformed in the ten years since its “humble beginnings”. “Myself and a few others who were in Roe Valley Cycling Club decided it was time for a cycling club in the city so we had a meeting in around September 2003. There were only four of us first of all and we needed six people to register as a club with Cycling Ireland - but we managed to get few people together and that was that.”
By the end of the first year almost 40 cyclists had signed up, with 60 the following year and FCC ranks built gradually until the boom of the last two years.
In 2004, the club enjoyed its first cycling foray on foreign soil and members now regularly take on some of Europe’s more famous cycling routes.
In recent years FCC members have taken on mountain sportive challenges including La Marmotte and the Raid Pyrénéen, and taken part in the Tour of Flanders sportive in the birthplace of road racing in Belgium.
Regular club runs take place as usual, leaving from Templemore Sports Complex at 9am on Saturdays and Sundays. Due to a recent surge in demand the club has also started a beginner run from the complex at 10am every Sunday. New members or those new to cycling are very welcome to get involved.
For the full calendar of FCC events log on to www.foylecycling.net or check out the club on Facebook.