Ciara Kinch has consistently been at the heart of the action in women's racing in Ireland over the past eight years taking multiple victories in Orwell colours. After a year racing for Towers CC, Kinch has returned to Orwell at a time when Orwell's women's team hopes to put in an exciting 2016.

Ciara with her time trial trophies at the 2015 IVCA prize giving. Ciara won the 10mile and 25 mile TTs in and came in the TT IVCA champs (photo thanks to Tony Pearson)

Age: 42

Years with Orwell: 8 years

How did you get into cycling and what sports were you doing before?
I was introduced to cycling by pals of mine who were members of the IVCA (Irish Veteran Cyclists Association), in 2006. In the same year, I was invited to ride my first sportive by Lar Cully who was a close pal of Liam Horner and organised “The Liam Horner” for the IVCA. I bought my cycling gear and a second-hand diminutive pink steel paganini racer from Jimmy Humphries in Finglas. I had been dropped early on, got lost in the roads of north county Dublin and my pals, worried, went out on their van looking for me. Things could only improve! I believe I had been enticed from the outset with words such as “chain gang” and “bunch gallops”. Previously I would have played squash, hockey and enjoyed hill walking in the Wicklow mountains.

What made you choose Orwell Wheelers?
I think it was the summer of 2007 when I heard from one of my veteran pals that a group of ladies would regularly meet during the summer at the Popes Cross on a Wednesday evening in the summer for training spins. These spins were very well organised with Aideen Collard and Alec Daragh showing us various drills. Aideen suggested I join the Orwell during of one of these spins.
Occasionally we would have had “supervets” such as Orla Hendron and Eddie Lynch leading us out too. I was at that point intrigued by this cycle malarkey. I rode my first road race with the IVCA in 2009. It took me a while to get up to speed with road racing. I was encouraged considerably when I would meet club mates Arthur Ebbs, Barry Redmond and Romano Morelli every week. Personally, I feel the IVCA created an inner circle of Orwell veteran camaraderie.

What sort of cycling do you do, and what do you enjoy about it?
At the moment it is road racing and time trials. I enjoy the club rides, our club league races and the general camaraderie that comes with it.

What bikes do you own?
I own a Tifosi (commuter / training bike), two road bikes (a Giant TCR SL road bike and a Wilier SLR), a Scott Plasma 2 Time Trial bike and a Trek mountain bike.

What are your greatest cycling highs/achievements?
As an individual, winning the women’s Leinster time trial championship in June last year.
From a club perspective, winning the county team prize for the Ras na nBan in 2014.

Ciara at the ten mile time trial at the Warrenpoint Open TT (photo with thanks to Scott Buchanan)

Cycling low/disappointment:
Cyclist lows would be for me the recent passing of Pat O’Brien and last year we lost IVCA member and ras stage winner Dermot McGrath while he was on a training spin.
It remind you of how vulnerable we all are. In 2012, I had a heavy fall on a training run with a group of vets, I broke the pelvis and it took a while to get back.

Best cyclists you raced against?
John Brady and John Shortt, in the IVCA. Female cyclists would be Lydia Boylan (former Orwell member). Veteran female cyclists would be Eve McCrystal and our Orla Hendron.

Favourite training route/coffee stop?
I love riding up the Wicklow mountains in the early summer, with the vibrant colour of heather and gorse.
Favourite coffee stop in in El Portet, near Calpe, it’s an isolated cafeteria, facing the sea and with a view to Calpe. Heaven!

Ciara during the Orwell Club League at Mondello (photo thanks to Aishling O'Connor)

You completed the Ras for the third time this year, how did the race go for you and what would be your objectives for it in 2016?
It was enjoyable but tough. I picked up an injury very early in the race and had to manage it though out the event. My objectives had to change as a consequence.
Paddy Doran is one of those wise men of Irish cycling, he used to say to me when things are going well to keep doing what you’re doing and that’s my plan for 2016.

Any advice for riders starting in the sport?
Listen to the guys who have been there before. I am always touching base with my pal, Peter Schweppe. Peter rode in the Orwell, he will be 78 years old this year and has seen everything.

Anything you'd like to add?
I would strongly recommend that women who have enjoyed their racing (and that are over 35 years) should race in the IVCA. Entry closes soon (February 1st) so don't forget to enter!