• Home
  • News
  • Club spotlight: Ballycastle CC making waves on the edge of the Atlantic

Club spotlight: Ballycastle CC making waves on the edge of the Atlantic

Club spotlight: Ballycastle CC making waves on the edge of the Atlantic

As you drive into the village of Ballycastle, if you turn your head to the right you will see the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and the solitary figure of Dún Briste off the coast at Downpatrick Head in the distance. But turn your head to the left and directly in front of you will be the words GIRO DE BAILE spelled out in person-sized block letters. This, more than anything, epitomises the extent to which cycling has caught on in this small rural area nestled in north Mayo, and it is the local club Ballycastle CC at the heart of this growth.

The initial response to be honest with you was that we were laughed at” admits Noel Kelly, one of the founders of Ballycastle Cycling Club, when thinking back to how the village at first responded to the news they were going to have a cycling club. The club was initially set up in 2014 by Kelly and other local cycling enthusiasts Mairtin Flannery, Cara Finnerty and Donal Gilvary “a few of us cycled the Ring of Kerry a few times previously and other sportives, and we decided you know what, let’s set a club up and make it more formalised” explains Kelly.

In the beginning, the club consisted of generally of older men in their thirties and forties, but as it has grown this has started to change “we have a wide range of people. The youngest is about 16 and the oldest is about 70” Kelly points out.

Kelly and the other founders also made a conscious decision for Ballycastle CC to be strictly a leisure club in an effort not to intimidate potential new members “our sessions are more geared towards leisure rather than towards racing in competition, so we kept to the leisure side of it and we thought we’d get a lot more members to come on-board who were a bit afraid of the whole idea that being on a racer was about racing, and not just cycling and enjoying it”.

The club is very active with it cycling usually twice during the week and then also on Sundays, and Kelly suggests that the club is in a very advantageous location “we’d do loops through Kilfian, Moygownagh and Crossmolina. We have a myriad of little roads through the countryside that allow us to cycle without much traffic basically. It’s very safe to cycle round there too”. Perhaps then, when one considers the abundance of quiet scenic roads available to exploit, it is not surprising that Ballycastle CC soon set about organising their own sportive: the Giro De Baile.

When we set up the club maybe almost a bit too prematurely or cheekily, we decided you know what let’s have an event. We have good roads and we have great scenery and we’ve got a good community spirit” remembers Kelly. In the clubs first year of existence, they organised a charity cycle for the Irish Kidney Association as one of their members had a kidney transplant.

After that was a success it gave them the confidence to organise a bigger event taking inspiration from other sportives around the country “we drew on our experience of cycling through different sportives throughout the country and of course the Ring of Kerry being one of the flagships in Ireland as a very successful event and we took the best examples that we had seen from these events and moulded them into our own one”

The first year of the Giro was a massive success but as Kelly notes this was only possible due to an enormous organisational effort “you need a lot of volunteers on board and you need to combine we’ll say volunteers and martials who will need to spent a day out there, and motorbike martials and car martialling, (it takes) countless hours of organisation.”

This year’s Giro was the most successful yet and saw over 400 cyclists participate riding either a 146km, 120km or 60km route on Sunday August 6th. There was also a vintage and family cycle which took place the week previous on Saturday the 30th, but for Kelly what was most important about the Giro was the overall experience “the one thing we always do with our event is make sure that people are well fed and minded, and that the routes are clear cut and that they are looked after. When they come in the beginning they are given maybe tea and coffee and biscuits and they are fed well throughout, after they got a free burger and recovery drink and so on. The thing about it is that you have to look after people and make them feel welcome to an area”

Ballycastle is just one of a number of clubs in Mayo’s thriving cycling scene which includes some big clubs like Ballina CC, Castlebar CC, Westport Covey Wheelers CC and Western Lakes amongst others. In fact, as Kelly mentions even since Ballycastle cycling club were set up a few years ago more areas are becoming interested in the sport “two other new clubs set up in north Mayo since we set up that is Belmullet Cycling club and Cooneel-Lisheen Cycling Club… because they realise it’s a healthy thing to have in action” and Kelly feels that having more clubs nearby getting people out on their bikes can only be a positive “the more the merrier” he exclaims.

The next step for the club is to now expand its youth section “some of the members undertook a sprocket rocket training course there during the summer which will allow us to maybe pass on our knowledge to underage”. Kelly believes that Ballycastle is one of best areas in Ireland to go cycling “people are amazed by the scenery that they cycle through and areas that they never ever seen before and that North Mayo has got some of the best cycling to offer on roads where generally the traffic volume is low”. The aim for Ballycastle Cycling Club going forward will be to continue getting more people, whether locals or tourists, out pedalling on these idyllic, peaceful roads.

Ballycastle Cycling Club can be found on
Facebook, and more information on the Giro De Baile can be found on the sportive’s website and on Facebook also. The charity partner for this year’s Giro was Mindspace Mayo.

Ballycastle Cycling Club welcomes new members at all times.

Written by Graham Gillespie

Back to news
  • training peaks
  • Kukri
  • spin11
  • Event Master
  • mpcc
  • bluecubes
Cycling Ireland, The Clockhouse, National Sports Campus, Snugborough Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, D15 PN0N
Tel: +353 (1) 8551522      Fax: +353 (1) 8551771      Contact Us

© 2018 Cycling Ireland. All rights reserved
Privacy Policy       Terms Of Use       Sitemap

Web Design by bluecubes
back to top cycling ireland