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History

Orwell Wheelers was formed by a group of training partners in the Winter of 1948, affiliating to the newly formed CRE in early 1949.

Past and present members have included the Roches - Stephen, Laurence and Nicolas; Paul Kimmage and David O'Doherty.

 

Constitution

The club approved a new constitution by EGM in February 2017. Download it here.

The original founding constitution can be found in the history forum.

 

Notable Members

You can see more about other members in the Profiles section.

Martin Hensey - The Orwell Flyer

Originally from Cork, Martin had a successful early sporting career as both a boxer and a wrestler, winning the National Cruiser weight title as a young man. He switched to cycling in 1947 with immediate success, placing second in his first road race and winning a number of time trials across 1947 and 48, culminating in his selection for the London Olympics in 1948.

Martin was one of the founding members of Orwell Wheelers CC, and continued his success in the new club's colours. In early March of '49 he became the Orwell's first 25 mile TT champion, winning with a time of 1'02'05", and followed just a few days later with our first ever open race win.

Foremost among the many race wins taken by Martin across the following two years were the National 25TT, 100TT and the first ever CRE National hillclimb title. Even though he was only involved in cycling for a very short few years he remains to this day one of our most successful racing members. He sadly passed away in 2014.

 

Henry Whelan

Another early member, he now has an IVCA race held in his honour every year after passing away a few years ago. The below is taken from William Parnell's profile of Henry while the latter served as chairman of the IVCA (http://homepage.eircom.net/~thevets/henryprofile.htm).

Born in Dublin and reared in Drimnagh, Henry did not come from a family with any particular background in cycling. He started cycling in 1948 at the age of 15, on a Hercules bicycle purchased for him by his uncle for the princely sum of 9/0s/0d. It was a bit of a Hire Purchase agreement between Henry and his uncle, because Henry spent 18 months paying back the price of the bike. Henry, like most young lads of the day, was working by the age of 16.

Henry joined the newly-formed Orwell Wheelers in 1948. He up-graded his bike and straight away he was racing and touring with the club. In 1949, at the age of 16, he rode the Orwell Wheelers 12 Hour TT Championship and finished second, covering "204 miles and 209 perches" according to the inscription on the medal. Whatever way you measure it, it was a long distance to ride in 12 hours, especially at such a young age! The same year, Henry competed in the first ever Dun Laoghaire Grand Prix.

In the Dining Room of Henry's Walkinstown home hangs a picture of him racing in Lansdowne Road in 1951 against some of the top names of the day - Jim McQuaid, Jack Ryan and Noel Tully. He was asked to fill-in for a rider from England who failed to show up, to make up the numbers in the kilo. Always obliging, Henry took to the start line and duly proceeded to not only qualify for the final, but to win the event outright in a tight sprint finish! There was further success on the grass for Henry in 1951, as he won the National Championships at 14; Mile, took the Silver medal for Second place at 12; Mile and finished Third in the 3 Mile Championships.

In 1955, Henry married his sweetheart, Margaret and reared 2 sons and a daughter and, in the late 1960s, Henry started his own business in the ladies clothing trade. This meant he dropped out of the cycling scene.

In the 1980s, He was offered two bicycles in part payment by a local business and, as Henry's son was looking for a bike around that time, he accepted the bicycles. This led to him going out for spins with a neighbour and IVCA member, Dick Walsh. He was bitten by the bug again, although running his business meant that he still had little time for training and it was often difficult to get to evening races. However, racinMembership patternsg was, in Henry's words, "great therapy from work." He joined Orwell Wheelers again, as well as the Vets.

Henry retired from work in 1996 and this gave him more time to ride his bike, clocking up runs in the region of 50 miles when he's not racing. He describes himself as a "State Sponsored Pro.", funded by the Department of Social Welfare's Pensions Office.

On the bike, one of Henry's proudest moments was winning the IVCA League in 1997. The results sheets for 2001 show that Henry is still getting up in the sprints, and  consistently beating men who are years younger than him despite a plate in his hip. He will always be remember for his modesty despite his talent, and his encouragement of newer members.

 

Stephen Roche

Probably our most famous member, Stephen Roche is one of only two men to have achieved the Triple Crown of the GIro d'Italia, Tour de France and World Championships in one year - 1987. Before that, he was coached by Noel O'Neill and won the Junior Champs in 1977 and the Rás Tailteann in 1979. His palmares also features Tour de Corse, Paris-Nice, Tour de Romandie (three times), the Critérium International (twice), Tour of the Basque Country, Four Days of Dunkirk, amongst many more.

His son Nicolas Roche is also a member, but currently rides for Team Sky in the professional peloton. The club hold the Stephen Roche GP every June in Dundrum to honour his contribution to Irish cycling.

 

Laurence Roche

Brother to Stephen Roche, Laurence is one of only eight Irish riders to have competed in the Tour de France. Laurence rode in 1991 for the Tonton Tapis team. Previously he had ridden as a professional for Carrera Jeans-Vagabond.

He has also competed in the Rás as recently as 2008, and is still active in the cycling world, running a company specialising in the Bike to Work scheme called BikeIT.

 

L Roche (at right) being interviewed by Paul Tansey for an Orwell Q&A session in 2014

 

Previous Membership Numbers

2017 - 678;
2016 - 657;
2015 - 550;
2014 - 405;
2013 - 316;
2012 - 318;
2011 - 283;
2010 - 230;
2009 - 210;
2008 - 154;
2007 - 79;
2006 - 69;
2005 - 59;
2004 - no records to hand;
2003 - 33;
2002 - 18;
2001 - 14;
2000 - 21;
1999 - 14;
1998 - 18;
1997 - 13;
1996 - 12;
1995 - 12;
1988 - 62;
1967 - 1; (Liam Keenan);
1951 - 16

 

 

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