Next in line to be interviewed for our series of rider profiles was one of the stars of Orwell's last golden age in the 1980s, and now spends his time helping the next generation of stars to come through by helping to organise the club league, and this year's very successful Corkagh park youth league. Fresh from narrowly missing out on winning Cycling Ireland's volunteer of the year award, read on for five minutes with Damien Long...

Age: 52          

Years with Orwell?:  38 ish


How did you get into cycling?  (Include any sporting background before coming into cycling.)

I tried the usual sports like GAA, soccer, swimming for example. I was never very good at any of them. Always had a bike as a kid and would cycle all the way to Tallaght (when there was fields between Tempelogue Bridge and Tallaght).


What made you choose Orwell Wheelers?

I heard from a family friend that there was schoolboy racing taking place on the track in Sundrive Park, which was only around the corner from where I lived. This family friend asked Stephen Roche to call for me and introduce me to the organiser at the track. The organiser turned out to be none other than Noel O’Neill, who was on a mission to restart schoolboy racing (called youth racing these days. Ref. Orla Tansey).  There were only 3 races left for that season on the Goldenball circuit and I won all three. Have to mention that there were only 3 riders in this beginner’s race but a win is a win.


What types of cycling do you do and what do you enjoy about it?

Club league is the only competitive cycling I do at the moment. I rode with the vets for a couple of years, but found it difficult to combine this with the youth racing calendar. Love the buzz of being towed around at 45kph plus for an hour or so on a Thursday night.  Sunday spins with the elite Ballinteer group who are very fond of their coffee stops. Rode the Nove Colli in Italy which was the highlight of my year. Also like mountain biking as I find it very relaxing to be away from the traffic etc.



What bikes do you own?

Winter bike is a Trek 2000.

Summer bike is a Specialised Tarmac.

Mountain is a free Specialised that Scott Mac gave me.

MBK that I bought from Stephen Roche in 1985 after he won a stage in the Tour on it.

Raleigh mountain bike that I bought from Dave Tansey about 20 years ago.

Your greatest cycling highs/achievements?

2 Stage placings in the 1980 Ras and top 20 overall on GC. Longford 2 day winner. Stage win in the Gorey 3 day. Rode the first race where the ICF , the NCA and the NICF came together  as a trial before the federations combined after years of bitter feuding. Rode the first Junior Tour in 1978 on the Irish team, where we won the team prize and Martin Early, also on the team, won the overall.

Your biggest cycling lows/disappointments?

Not finishing the 1980 Tour of Ireland due to illness. Not being selected for the 1981 Tour of Ireland despite finishing in the top 10 in a National Champs selection race that Paul Kimmage won. Was later asked to ride but pride got in the way as I felt that I deserved to be selected on the first round.


Your cycling heroes/role models?

Schoolboy hero was Eddy Merckx and Freddy Martens. Role model has to be Noel O’Neill as he has such a passion for cycling and despite two new hips I would not let him out of sight for fear of not catching him again. John Marron and how he keeps his bike clean


Who was the best rider you ever competed against?

Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche, Pat McQuade, Neil Martin, Robbie Lawless to mention a few.


Your favourite training route/coffee stop?

Kenney’s in Blessington


What music is on your MP3 Player now?

Whats a MP3 Player ?


Cycling is one of those rare sports where father and son can compete against each other in the same event. From your own experience, would you say that’s more of a privilege or a curse?

It was a privilege until this year, now when being caught and passed by the SS group I would hear ‘come on fat boy’ from my disrespectful son. I blame the parents.


Tell us something we don’t know about you already?

I am very slow at typing. This took more than 5 minutes.