2018 saw the introduction of the Pathways course for new Scott-Orwell members. A hardy bunch of 33 braved one of the coldest, wettest and windiest winters in recent memory to graduate the course and join the club. Here some of our newest members have shared their experiences, taking us through how they got on and where they hope to go from here. Keep an eye out for this enthusiastic bunch on club spins and don’t be shy to say hello.


I have been a solo or very small group cyclist for years – have done the Border Trek, Tour de Burren, Wicklow 200, Great Dublin Bike Ride, the Sean Kelly and Causeway challenges to name but a few. I have sought out cycle challenges while on holidays and chalked up the Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux, the Ghisallo and Muro di Sormano (though I did have to walk a bit of that one!). 

Joining a cycling club was something I had been pondering for a few years. But being a procrastinator I had never done it – possibly due to being a bit anti-social – but not in an ‘ASBO’ type of way, lest my membership is revoked! I also had the preconception that cycling clubs would be a bit cliquey with a membership of ‘wanna-be’ pros – would I be fast enough, would my bike be good enough, was my gear cool enough. I was assured that this was not the case with ‘wheelers’ so when I was convinced to get involved in a family Wicklow 200 in 2018 I decided it was time for action – I couldn’t face training for another long cycle on my own. Procrastinate no more – join Orwell Wheelers – but ‘membership closed’ and new members only accepted in limited numbers having completed a 6 week introductory course.

Vida at the top of Muro di Sormano

Anyway I made the cut for the first introductory course and pitched up to The Goat on a cold January evening. I was immediately impressed by the friendliness of everyone and the welcome that was being extended to potential new members (didn’t fit with my preconceptions at all!), oh – and the free stuff! We got some pretty cold wet and nasty weather for the days in Corkagh Park, but the enthusiasm shown by Aidan, Michelle and all the other mentors kept us going – that and the coffee and left-over Christmas goodies.

Our first road spin was to Greystones  where the race was on to be the first group to get to the coffee stop to beat the queue – Rodney and Gerry ensured that we achieved our goal and the ‘reward’ for the group was a trip back to Joe’s via the infamous Red Lane! Back to Corkagh Park to fine-tune the skills and before we knew it we were cycling as a group rather than as a crowd! More road spins followed – group riding proving to be good fun, especially when the pace picked up – whether being pulled along by the group, shielded from the wind or taking a turn at the front. The ‘no wo/man gets left behind’ mentality, the chit-chat and the guaranteed coffee stops have converted me and made me slightly regret my years of solo cycling.

The prospect of regular Sunday spins and a bit of commitment mean that now I have no excuse for not being ready for the ‘200’ and have penciled in the ‘Tour de Conamara’ as a final training spin. Maybe with a few more climbing tips I might even cycle the whole way up the Muro di Sormano....



Prior to coming on the course I had very limited experience on a road bike, living in London I had a Hybrid and as a youngster it was all about moutain bikes,  when I moved to Ireland I wanted a chance to see some of the amazing countryside, get fit and meet some people and that lead me to discover Orwell.

I got my self a bike and went on a few rides and waited for Orwell to re open membership and once they did I signed up. 

Puncture repair clinic on the go (photo thanks to Leonard Kaye)

I really enjoyed the 1st couple of courses at Corkagh park and picked up lots from Aidan and Michelle but have to admit my 1st spin out to Greystones was a bit of an eye opener!  I underestimated how fit I was and have to admit I felt completely out of my depth and the voices in my head were telling me to throw the bike in a hedge and get the bus home.  I struggled, got a flat and fell over while stationary outside the coffee stop but with the help and encouragement from Val, Leonard and Clare I made it home!

Since then my confidence has improved and like to think I've improved and have enjoyed the other spins we've been on.  I especially enjoyed heading back to Greystones and not dying on my ass!  I'm now looking forward to getting some more miles in the legs and all that brings.



Having purchased a road bike in 2016 and cycled informally with friends including completing some sportives in 2017, i.e. Wicklow 100 and Great Dublin Bike Ride, I felt I wanted to formalise and regularise my cycling and hoped a club would provide that framework. Not to race rather improve what little skill I had and hopefully get some advice from more experienced leisure cyclists.

I was aware of Orwell probably being the nearest, most popular club to me and followed it on social media so I was delighted to see the announcement in early December of the Pathways course for 2018.

The rewards of cycling (photo thanks to Leonard Kaye)

The Pathways course provided a excellent introduction to group cycling alongside help refining skills most cyclists would have picked up informally so it was also useful for social and casual cycling.  It was amazing to see the number of club members who volunteered to help mentor the 'newbies' in pretty dreadful conditions in early January. There was a great sense of camaraderie in the group and willingness to help and advise.  Particularly expert analysis of the best coffee shops at which to take a break on the spins.

I am looking forward now to the leisure summer programme doing more sportives faster and enjoying the much wider circle of social cycling with Orwell. See you on a spin.


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