In the first of a new series of profiles of Orwell club members, Ronnie Brannigan steps forward to be grilled by Aideen Collard.

Ronnie Brannigan

Age: 48    

Years with Orwell:  Over 15

How did you get into cycling?
I worked with Damien Long (also in the Club), he cycled in and out of work and told stories of cycling which got me interested and he invited me out on the bike.  At the same time, my late brother Gerry was getting into cycling and between the two of them, I quickly got hooked.  

What made you choose Orwell Wheelers?
Damien Long was a member and he introduced me to Aidan Hammond, Noel O’Neill and others in the Club and they opened all the doors and got me into racing.  It’s a great Club altogether.

What types of cycling/racing do you do?
Unfortunately, I had to hang up the wheels earlier this year owing to a medical condition.  I did touring for years with Gerry and then got into racing, mainly as a Vet.  I love the buzz, craic and meeting people at the races and hope to stay involved in racing in the future as a helper/driver.

What bikes do you own?
None at the moment as I gave them away when I had to give up cycling.  I gave my Pinarello Dogma (which had been Gerry’s bike) to Darragh Long (Ed Note: Damien’s son, Under 14. Darragh has won many races on this bike already) and I gave my Giant to my brother Stan.

Your greatest cycling highs/achievements?
Winning a Silver in the National Vets 25 Mile TT Championships in 2002, Silver in the Leinster Vets Road Race and Silver in the Leinster Vets 10 Mile TT Championships- they were great times.

Your biggest cycling lows/disappointments?
Of course having to give up cycling.  I also rode the Rás once and never again as I spent the whole week as last man, just in front of the Broomwagon (and a few days behind it) but still finished!

Your cycling heroes/role models?
Marco Pantani, his ability to climb blew me away despite the scandal surrounding him.  Also Noel O’Neill (former National Road Champion and longest-standing member of Orwell) is a legend and I once enjoyed a great cycling trip with him in Lanzarote.

Your favourite training route/coffee stop?
The route of the Gerry Brannigan Randonnee (LINK) - it was myself and Gerry’s favourite route for a 2 hour round training loop after work.  My favourite coffee stop is the nearby Hill of Tara.

The Gerry Brannigan Randonnee takes place this Sunday 14th November from Clonee at 10.30am.  What does it mean to you to have this Randonnee every year in memory of Gerry?
I couldn’t put it into words, it means so much to have all the riders come out and enjoy the route that Gerry loved.  The money raised goes to help the families of cyclists who have died suddenly or where a cyclist has been badly injured in an accident, its helps tide them over until they get back to work.  We have special need for the funds this year.  The money is managed by a Committee and it would be great to have more Orwell members involved.  I also lost both my parents in the last year and looking forward to this year’s Randonnee has really kept me going.  I hope to see a good crowd out and there will also be tea, sandwiches and raffle with spot-prizes in the Grasshopper afterwards.