Many of the previous pieces on were written by the talented Mr Quigley, whose day job sees him rub shoulders with high calibre sportstars, from Olympic sailor Annalise Murphy to Scottish legend Graeme Obree. In his spare time, he can be found dishing out helpful tips to novice racers, usually after the finish line. In the following interview, we enjoyed turning the tables, and asking him the questions for once. Declan, for his part, was only too happy to give us five minutes... though it was more like fifty-five minutes really.


Age: 46

Years with Orwell? 6

What made you choose Orwell Wheelers? What do you like about it?
I was getting back into the bike in a big way and I "road tested" a club near where I was living but they weren't much craic and a bit aggressive about club membership and insurance forms etc. My mate Stephen McNally wasn't long back on the bike either and had tried the Orwell. It was a bit of a spin down to Joe Daly's on Sunday mornings but everyone was just so welcoming and relaxed. It was an easy decision. I was a Sorrento CC member as a kid and have great friends there still and I also did brief stint with '34 Nomads in Surrey and Minuteman Road Club in Massachussets but all my club choices have been about location. I wouldn't be into the idea of changing 'teams' just because there's a free jersey on offer.

Orwell's great strength is that it's genuinely a friendly club which is most of the reason for the club's recent expansion. It's not elitist or 'cliquey'. All the other stuff about sponsorship and race wins and how many members etc is peripheral, really. Friendship through cycling should be our motto and our mantra.

How did you get into cycling?
I was 16 and had my heart set on going kart racing. I had enough money saved for a second hand outfit but nowhere to keep it and no way of getting it to the track. My best buddy in school was in Sorrento and it was the year Sean Kelly won his first green jersey in the Tour so I bought a bike instead. Best decision I ever made. About my third ever spin was an 80-mile thrash over Glenmacnass and Wicklow Gap. How I ever made it home is beyond me. There was no build up phase, riding charity events and sportives. I even skipped the touring bit of the club and went racing straight away which was certainly making it tough on myself. It's better these days and so many riders are arriving in club cycling really fit and well trained.

What bikes do you own?
I always kept a bike even during the dark years of endless trackside burgers and I still have an old Vitus 979 from the 80s. My racing bike is a Kuota with Campag 10-speed. It's light, stiff and reliable. I have an alloy Lapierre Ultegra triple for the winter and a Karbona time trial bike that I've been careful to avoid riding except when absolutely necessary.

Your greatest cycling highs/achievements?
Where to start? There are so many... I suppose my cycling 'career' hasn't been storied in the conventional sense, as it were... There was that Irish Road Club "guess your time" TT win at Christmas one year. I set a ridiculously slow time and only won it because I got a puncture half way round... I've finished in every position in the top six more than once in open and club competition since I came back to cycling - except for first. I'm looking forward to that day. Possibly the biggest high was being on the start line for my first race back after almost 20 years away. I had never thought I'd race again and discovering that cycling really is a sport for life was a thrill.

Your biggest cycling lows/disappointments?
The tough days are usually lonely ones and we all have loads of them so I try not to dwell on the lows. Having said that, I can't forget climbing off in tears during the Junior Tour in ’84. My favourite part of bike riding is descending and cornering but after that day I would never slag anyone who doesn't enjoy that aspect. I had a few crashes that year including one the day before in Navan and something just snapped. I topped Sally Gap in the top 15 out of 180 but I quite literally couldn't go faster than walking pace on the descents with the tips of the brake levers touching the bars. It was a horrible feeling. It took at least a year to get back to reckless teenage normality. I always say to people who are afraid on the descents not to push it. Relax as best you can and the speed will eventually come.

Best cycling books you have read?
Jeez, make a list. There are so many irritatingly talented people out there. The Rider by Tim Krabbe really nails the experience of racing. Rough Ride by Paul Kimmage is one of the few that I go back to. Everyone thinks it's a book about drugs. To my mind it's more about a love of bike racing scarred by the pro game. Amateur sport trumps pro sport every time, regardless of the code.

Favourite sports star that you've met/interviewed?
Hmmm, I've met a good few well known people through work and it would probably be waaay more fun to talk about my least favourite but libel laws and Juan Pablo Montoya's legal team prevent me from elaborating. It was a huge relief to find that Niki Lauda is as entertainingly acerbic in real life as he was in my childhood imagination. I spent a day with Graeme Obree last year and found him to be a very warm, generous, damaged individual. He's so clever but the world is a complicated machine to operate for some people.

Your favourite training route/coffee stop?
In my first incarnation as a bike rider myself, Stephen and my other mate Will had a lap round Dalkey and Killiney we called the "scenic route" that we used on mid week spins. I've been using it again in the last year for hill intervals. Brings back great memories. Coffee stops are the creation of Satan! But since you're asking, I had a cracking slice of pizza and a diet coke at the top of the Col de la Madeleine on a long spin during the Tour this year.

What music do you listen while training?
I gave up listening to the radio during spins a few years ago. My wife Georgie made me a deadly playlist for turbo intervals last winter. The Dead Kennedys' California Über Alles and Stigmata by Ministry are two that come to mind from it. Just the job! I watch old bike races or movies on long, steady turbo sessions.

What do you do to relax after a hard day's racing?
A sixty minute interval session? Nah, I really look forward to a bottle of red and a review of the week with Georgie on Sunday evenings.

Any goals for next season?
I'll try and do a similar winter to last year because that worked well. Easter will probably feature the Gorey 3-Day. It's a great event and a wonderful monument to Sam d'Arcy. I'll set some clear short and medium term goals shortly and try to break up the season into thirds. Work so often interferes but I have to go where that takes me.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in racing?
Me give advice?! The very idea! A friend of mine loves the old adage "Only a fool learns by his own mistakes". Your cycling club is a tremendous resource and the best way to use it is to listen and ask advice from experienced riders. I'd pepper the likes of Brian Ahern and Eddie Lynch with endless questions and just soak it all up. Not all of it will apply but you'd be amazed how much will be useful. A lot of new riders rely on the internet, magazines and books for information, much of which has a sales agenda but they often ignore the advice and practice of their peers because it seems a little unfashionable and home spun. It can take a while in cycling to discover that there really is very little new under the sun.