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My Bike for Life story by Paul Duffy


Bike for Life is one of Cycling Ireland's programmes during which cyclists are brought through the various skills and techniques involved in cycling. The focus of the programme is on learning and meeting new people, with the group cycle a prominent feature in the programme. The Bike for Life programme would not be possible if it wasn't for the commitment and hard work of volunteer Bike for Life leaders. Below one of our leaders Paul Duffy from Sligo tells us about his experience with the programme.

My Bike-For-Life Story

My name is Paul Duffy and I live in Sligo. For the past 5 years, I have been a regular weekly road cyclist and a very involved member of the local Innisfree Wheelers Cycling Club.


I qualified as a Cycling Ireland Bike-for-life Leader in March 2014, having completed that organisation’s ‘Introduction to Cycling’ coaching programme in February 2014. I gained a further coaching qualification through my participation in Cycling Ireland’s ‘Level 1 Coaching’ programme in November 2014.


From January 2014, to date, I have been involved in 8 separate Bike-for-Life (BFL) courses, and have performed the role of course designer and Head Coach for 6 of these structured cycling courses, aimed at beginner or re-starter cyclists. The feedback from participants to date has in general been very positive, with most expressing their surprise at significantly surpassing their expectations in the cycling spins and distances they can now achieve. Many have since signed up as full club members and participate at all levels in our weekly Sunday Club Spins.


My most recent Innisfree Wheelers’ BFL course, for non-member beginner cyclists, was a 5 week programme that commenced on Sunday 23rd August, and finished on Sunday 20th September 2015. Each session lasted approximately 2.5 hours. My overall goal with the participant group was, on a progressive weekly basis, to have each person fit and able to comfortably cycle 40km in our annual club ladies-only charity cycling event, the ‘Ladies Tour of Lough Gill’, and their fee for the BFL programme included free entry to that event.


This BFL course was aimed at ladies only, and specifically designed to run up to the date of the Ladies Tour. On the course registration night, 33 ladies presented for enrolment, but for health and safety reasons, I could only take on 22. However, for the 11 ladies who did not get on the course participants list at this point in time, I assured them that all could be accommodated in our Spring 2016 BFL programme, and in the interim, I designed and delivered a separate (free) half-day basic cycling skills course for them, which was very much appreciated.


Since becoming involved in BFL coaching, I have been continuously reviewing and improving my coaching session plans, and I have developed a progressive and structured programme for safe cycling based on the BFL syllabus, so that I can flexibly adjust to suit many situations, group sizes   and course time-frames.


For me the BFL coaching has been a positive experience, it has given me the confidence to work with various groups of people, to work outside of my comfort zone, and to think outside the box.

The enjoyment of seeing the absolute beginner cyclists improve in confidence, bike fitness, cycling ability, and their achievement of goals they never thought were possible, has been very rewarding.


Finally I would like to acknowledge the help and assistance from fellow club members in running these sessions.

One of the many Bike for Life groups Paul has guided through the programme on a spin with local club Innisfree Wheelers. Below is some feedback from the group on the day. 

 Oona Mc Grath, Thanks for today...looking forward to next week.

Veronica Kelly, Thanks a lot, very enjoyable morn

Dolores Mc Cann, Great day. Lots of encouragement. Thanks to all and the time they give to all the beginners... Great group and wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning 

Geraldine Keaveney, A great morning and fab weather thanks a million for all the support and encouragement 

For more information about Bike for Life check out the Programmes section of the Cycling Ireland website here or email programmes@cyclingireland.ie 

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