Wednesday, 19th September 2018
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Michael Garland bizBoost PR

Blood, sweat and fears!

Two Saturdays ago, I and many others, took some very deep breaths, swallowed a few brave pills, crossed the border and ventured into County Kilkenny. Black Cat country!

Thankfully, John Paul Phelan has not yet built his "Wall", but it's only a matter of time. Forget Brexit's impact on the movement of free travel across Europe. JPP will have the Deise folks needing visas to cross the River Suir, to access all things North of Ferrybank.

I would guess that over 500 took part in the "Tour De Kilkenny". Okay, so this was not the Tour De France. It's not a three week cycling marathon, but a one day event with a choice of four cycling routes.

The four circuits were 44km, 77km and 110km long. For the "Big boys and girls" there was a challenging, energy sapping 160km meander. Each specifically tailored to an appropriate cycling ability which was refreshing to see.

Settling for the 160km route, a handful of others and I, would discover that County Kilkenny was far from flat. In fact there was circa 1900 metres of climbing, in our five hour journey around the black and amber stronghold. We would, through gritted teeth and sweat stinging eyes, see some stunning countryside and beautiful picturesque villages.

A touring route that our fiercest rival can be very proud of. The marshalling was top notch. Starting and finishing in Kilkenny Rugby Club, made access, parking and quick egress very easy indeed.

This event will in the next few years, undoubtedly replace our own Sean Kelly Tour Comeragh Challenge. SKT will not return in 2018, after a wonderfully successful run. It's so regrettable to lose such a big event, for whatever reasons. But we have to make sure we replace this, with an equally big event, or we'll be left behind. There were participants from Northern Ireland, the North West and all across Ireland, descending on Kilkenny, to take part in this Sportif.

Given the void of a large cycling event now existing in County Waterford, they'd adopt Kilkenny for this "Race".

The success of the Greenway has been astonishing and it will continue to attract, at least in the short term, more and more people to Waterford. However, if we don't keep polishing this wee jewel, it will lose its sparkle.

Would it be too difficult to develop Waterford as a cycling hub? We certainly have the routes and infrastructure, but like all these ideas, we need drivers and enablers to make this happen.

Others, specifically our neighbours, are seeing the success of the Greenway through big green eyes. They want to be part of the cycling revolution that, like it or not, is taking place.

Waterford needs to drive on with its competitive advantage and ensure that we, above any other County, make cycling a real money spinner.

Last week, in the medical journal "The Lancet", a report was published directly linking exercise to better mindfulness. Over one million people took part in the study. We all know that we should be more active.

It is now more and more apparent that regular workouts are not only good for the soul, they do wonders for your mind. This is across all age groups and abilities. If we, as a society, are to openly tackle topics such as childhood obesity, adult diabetes and even mental health issues, we need to start somewhere.

I know myself, that I do most of my writing whilst out on my penny farthing, thus exercising my mind. You just cannot help be inspired by the countryside that surrounds you.

Also, as I'm not zooming along in the Mini Cooper S, I notice so much more, just by travelling at a slower pace. The sights and sounds that we are lucky enough to experience in this wee corner of Ireland, are undeniably exceptional and very special.

Unfortunately, I fear that if we Waterford Inc, are not brave enough to grasp this nettle, we may well be once again left in the wheel tracks, struggling to catch up. There are opportunities out there, right now and we must liberate those champions to bring home the medals.

Opportunity knocks around every bend.

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