Heaven is descending Lugalla on a sunny day!

The View of the Committee Member Turned Participant – Fergal O’Sullivan

About 7 years ago a number of the Leisure people within the club were asked to take on the running of the clubs annual sportive, which up until then had primarily been run by Dave McLoughlin. Not knowing what we were taking on we spent many a night planning and worrying about the venue, which route to do, expected numbers etc. Thankfully everything went according to plan and the Orwell Randonnee was born. It soon turned into one of, if not the best events on the leisure calendar each year with the event being sold out each year and people hounding committee members for entries up to and including the morning of the event.

2 other past committee members take on the Randonnee - John T & Brendan S

Roll on 7 years of very successful events, the committee decided that it was time to hand the mantle of the Randonnee over to fresh faces and ideas within the club. I had agreed that I would stay on the committee up to the day of the event as I wanted to cycle it – god knows why I said that, as I knew too well what the route was like having driven it for the last number of years and seeing what it did to people.

The request went out within the club for 4 key people to take up the job of running the Randonnee, as always within Orwell, people came forward to take on the challenge – more about them later.

Several months and numerous meetings later it was Saturday the 5th of May 2018 and it was my time to cycle the Randonnee. I was cycling with a number of colleagues from work and the plan was that we would divide and conquer the routes – thankfully I was doing the Randonnee Lite.

It was strange arriving at the start at 7.30 and not having to organise marshals etc, the only one I needed to organise was myself. Once I had produced my Licence and confirmed the emergency contact details at the sign on it was time to hit the road. It was a glorious morning as we left the start and I must admit we did leave before the official start time.

Fergal at the start with chief "Waterboy" Colm

As we travelled around the route I still found myself checking the junctions for marshals as I knew where they all should have been and as expected they were all there cheering us on, at the spilt 4 decided they were doing the Randonnee while 2 of us took the Lite option, not sure what we were thinking when we called it that, it is far from a Lite option. Once we managed to pedal down from Sally Gap to Laragh we were greeted by what can only be described as an army of volunteers in the food stop – all wanting to help and offer us Soup / Sandwiches etc. and the most important thing the famous Carrot Cake.

Once feed and watered it was back out to take on the second half – the temperature started to rise now and it was a steady pace for the two of us over Wicklow Gap and down to the Lakes in Blessington, I will never again say that around the lakes isn’t that bad. Refuelled by the infamous Waterboys it was back up Sally Gap again – at this point I need to apologies to the cyclists who have done this route over the last number of years – what were we thinking. Thankfully we eventually reached the top and it was all downhill from there back to finish line. Knowing there was a delicious burger (leisure cyclist in me) waiting for us at the finish kept us going.

Previously we would have received numerous compliments from participants about the event, the standard of the marshalling, the friendless of the people involved, the quality of the food etc. I can honestly say that having done the event as a cyclist I totally agree with each and every comment. It is only by taking part in the event that I really got to see the dedication that the club members have to the club and the pride that people have in the club.

As I said earlier I have been on the Randonnee committee for 7 or so years and helped turn the event into what it is now, when it came to handing it over it was like a father handing one of his children over to somebody and thinking were they going to be ok. After seeing the work and dedication that Rob, George, Martin and George have shown over the last number of months and the smooth running of the 2018 Randonnee I rest easy knowing that the event is in safe hands. So from a past Randonnee committee member thank you for an excellent day on the bike.

The view from the Broom Wagon – Denis Gleeson & Val Smith

The men of "The Broomwagon" Val & Denis

The Broom wagon is one of the best know vehicles in any cycle event. The Scott Orwell Randonnee is no exception. This year the van was manned by Denis Gleeson and his able assistant Val Smith. The intrepid pair started ahead of the of the event to act as marshal's at the first junction.  From there it was full gas up hills and down dales to keep close to the slowest cyclists. In fact the race by cyclists to be at the back was as competitive as that at the front of the field. To bring some variety to our intrepid pair they were also tasked with removing the directional arrow signs as they moved throught the route.  This was on all occasions carried out by Val, who was chief snipper for the day.

To record the facts of the day. The Broom wagon does not administer mechanical first aid to bikes. They only remove, sweep up and carry on. However our chief snipper did apply some TLC to two bikes.   One chain had to be helped back into it place and the required air for a tyre.  Apart from two known accidents this was the first year with the highest number of drop outs requiring to be taken home in the Broom wagon.  This is a reflection on the warm weather and the bad Winter, which possible restricted peoples training. Over the Broom wagon took just short of 9 hours to complete the course"

Past & current Presidents Denis and Paul at the start of the Randonnee

The Charity View – Dundrum Arch Club

Dundrum Arch Club are the chosen charity of choice for the 2018 Orwell Randonnee. Profits from the Randonnee will go to support the club in the fantastic work they do. We would like to thank the club for embracing the event and for being there to support the cyclists everywhere along the route! We have never had so many smiling faces waving us off!

Its hard to put into words the atmosphere at 8am at the Old Wesley Rugby Club in Kilternan on Saturday 5th May but, I'll try. It really was just brilliant!!!!!

You couldn't have asked for a nicer day with the sun beaming down. When I drove past Stepaside you could feel there was something good in the air and see quite a number of cyclists whizzing by. From the moment the gang of us from Dundrum Arch Club arrived to the rugby club grounds we were met with a sea of smiling and happy faces. We were all delighted we got up so early to witness the buzz and excitement around the place.

                          Collage thanks to Dundrum Arch Club

The music was pumping and the overall atmosphere was just electric. As one of our members Barry said 'it makes you want to take up cycling'. We couldn't get over the number of cyclists and from all over Ireland that were there. Whoever we spoke to asked us about our club and we in turn asked them about theirs... You could see they were eager to get going. It was such a super morning to be apart of and our members and helpers who turned up to support your cyclists and cheer them on their way were thrilled to be apart of the Randonnée. One of our members even cycled up from Dundrum that morning....

Well done guys..

                           Helping out at the food stop

The visiting participants view:

It was a bit hilly in parts. Apart from that it was grand (wink2) SOS

Very well run from start to finish.  Marshalling was excellent.  Catering top notch. AON

Agree with Aidan's comments. A great event. The marshalling on the dangerous parts was really helpful. AH

Very tough but enjoyable. Well run with friendly and helpful marshals.  GM

To be honest as an event ,for me it was faultless.With it being a long day maybe an 8am start as an option. SH

Excellent event - issuing everyone a spare set of hamstrings at the start would be useful. CH

Without doubt the hardest and best day I've ever had on the bike. Never has a burger tasted so good. Boards.ie

Really enjoyed that - fantastic day out. Well done to all in Orwell, that was a lesson on how to run an event!! Marshals were brilliant all the way round on junctions, and on the bad bends etc. Great job! Foodstop as always was first class, and the volunteers there were so helpful and friendly.  Funny enough I found this tougher than previous ones also - might have been the heat we're so starved of here so far in 2018! Andy69 – Boards.ie

2 of our many wonderful marshals

I had forgotten to mention the Haribos at the last water stop, and to top it all a can of COLD Coke. A real touch of class, that. Eamonator - Boards.ie

Another superb edition of the Randonee in very strange weather. All from Maynooth CC that did it were hugely impressed. As usual, everything about this event was top class: base, route, marshalling, signage, food & water stops, burger and carrot cake. The bit of tailwind on the final ascent of Sally Gap was most welcome compared to the gale force headwind last year. Will be back in 2019. Maynooth CC – on Boards.ie

Got off to a fairly bad start with a complete jamming of my chain which was never coming out until Mister Orange arrived in the van and removed the cranks. Got going again and gave it a bit of a go to make up some ground. Probably not the wisest as my training this year was way down on last year. I suffered a serious amount out there, especially after a heap of carrot cake and biscuits in Laragh, but made it round.  The weather was incredible. The marshaling was impeccable and the cake and burger were delicious. Well done to everyone in Orwell. Daroxtar – Boards.ie

Mr. Orange & Rodney to the rescue!

And we have to finish with this one: Super day on the bike, a masterclass in event organisation. My first Orwell but won't be my last, Suffered like a dog around the lake but I learnt that Zinc water can assist with cramps and I credit that magic stuff with getting me to the top of the gap the second time round without completing seizing up. Only downside for me was a blowout about 2k from the finish. Hit a hole at 40k and bang went the rear. Thanks Orwell for a most memorable day in the garden of Ireland. Luxman – Boards.ie

The Orwell Randonnee – Take a Bow! See you all in 2019


Link to photos & video of the Orwell Randonnee - Photos & Video