Careers in Cycling - Media

Careers in Cycling - Media

How did you get into cycling?

My brother had raced a little with Wexford Wheelers so there were a few Cycling magazines around the house and my mate in school raced with Sorrento CC. I went very close to buying a racing kart when I was 16 but I decided to buy a bike instead and a competitive life of stunning mediocrity and great personal reward was born. One of the few smart decisions I’ve ever made!

Quigley on his way to a career defining sixth place in the Meath GP Junior Race in Navan, 1984, proving that wearing skinsuits in road races is not a modern invention. (Photo Paul Quigley)

What do you love most about the sport?

The speed, the tactics, that little frisson of danger, the freedom of the open road and the sense that any success, however small, has been really hard won. There are no gimmes in bike racing.

When did you decide to move into the sports media realm?

I’m not sure I ever did. It just sort of happened, though it had always been a vague ambition. I began as a motorsport journalist, reporting the local car racing scene for English magazines. That led to a 14-year stint as a Formula One reporter for the Irish Independent and RTE TV. I was the lead commentator in F1 on Irish TV for many years during a great period for that series.

I’d always kept a bike for fitness even when I wasn’t racing and I got back into it seriously about ten years ago with Orwell Wheelers.

I always said I wouldn’t work in cycle racing because I wanted to keep it as my hobby but, inevitably, opportunities come your way and before I knew it, my weekends were consumed by other people’s bike racing exploits

What does a day in the life of Declan Quigley look like?

Well not a whole lot like the day before or the day after! Last week I was at the Tour of Switzerland so that was all planes, trains and automobiles with long transfers through impossibly beautiful chocolate box tin countryside.

This week I’m back home so today I finished off submitting copy for a car magazine I edit in the morning before turning my attention in the afternoon to preparing for the National Championships this weekend, promoted by my own club Orwell Wheelers.

My wife Georgie and I have a media company and a portion of it involves TV and Video production, making shows and content for a variety of outlets. We also have a number of PR and media training contracts which keep us on our toes. Media training is essential for sportspeople at all levels and we prepare them for their encounters with the big bad world of the ‘meeja’.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I love the adrenaline kick of calling a really good bike race. Okay, the buzz is not quite as high as it would be for the riders but the arc of excitement is pretty similar as eager anticipation leads to relative calm before things build up ahead of the inevitable crescendo at the finish. It’s a real privilege to be paid for doing something that I’d probably be doing anyway if I was at home watching the telly!

I’m also on the organising committee of An Post Rás na mBan which is probably the single most rewarding experience I’ve had in the sport outside of microphone work.

Pretty much everyone agrees that the women’s side of the sport deserves extra effort and attention and the way the event has gone from a low-key three day race to a five-day event with a genuine international flavour is a source of pride.

Do you still get out on your bike – where is your favourite place to cycle?

Quigley back in Navan in 2011 displaying the evidence that he has spent most of the previous couple of hours sitting on. (Photo Georgie Francis)

Yep, the bike is really important and, while travelling makes it awkward to get any consistency in my training, I still get out a three or four times a week when I’m home. I missed a couple of years of racing, but I’ve made a bit of a ‘comeback’ this year in club races and IVCA events. It was only when I came back that I realised how much I missed it.

I have a 10km circuit around Dalkey and Killiney near my house that I’ve used for hill intervals since I was a junior and it’s still a thrill to give it a thrash around what we used to call ‘The Scenic Route’.

My Leaving Cert English essay was inspired by a day when my buddy Will and I went ‘on the hop’ from school to ride around Enniskerry, Rocky Valley and Kilmacanogue in Wicklow. It was one of those blissful ‘stolen’ days and I’ve been replicating it on and off ever since then.

What would you say to anyone who is interested in working in the cycling media world?

Er, don’t limit your horizons. It’s a really tough graft and a very uncertain world so maximise all education opportunities. When I was starting out the best piece of advice I got was not to over specialise. Ideally have more than one sport that you work in but if you stick to cycling, make sure you develop lots of different outlets for your work because they’ll come and go.

What’s next up on your schedule?

After the nationals where I’m producing video and doing PA announcing I’ll do the eight-day Tour of Austria for Eurosport.

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