Cycling has been very popular in Ireland since the Victorian era and it certainly was when I grew up. The roads may not have been high quality, but there was freedom and a lot of fun to be had in it. Out riding on the Wicklow road south of Dublin I met a group of the Bray Wheelers cycling club (one of the oldest in Ireland). I was 18 and started to ride with them, learning how to train and race from two great gentlemen, Paddy Martin and Peter Crinnion.
I was a natural sprinter and after a lot of hard work started winning a lot of important races on the road and the track, including several national championships. One thing led to another and in 1984 I was offered a chance to race fulltime in the Champagne region of France for UVC Aube based in Troyes. While there I was fortunate to be coached by French cycling luminary Jacques “Jack” André, who ran the club for more than 40 years. Jacques has mentored many top cycling champions, including Robert Millar, Malcolm Elliott, and most recently, Adam Yates. I learned a lot about training and race tactics from him.
1990 Kellogg’s City Centre Criterium
The following year I came to the United States to race the then lucrative east-coast criterium circuit. My good results paid off with a pro contract from New York City’s Toga Bike Shop Pro Team. It was the same team that Tour de France rider George Hincapie was on and Olympic medalist Nelson Vails before that. George was a bit younger than I was and a brilliant junior. We raced together a bit and I remember leading him out at the 1987 Mengonie Grand Prix that he won, with world pursuit champion, Mike McCarthy second, and me hanging on for third. I had many other memorable victories and fell in love with the U.S., but still raced in Ireland for a few more years, getting some of my best results.
|1987: Champion—Raleigh Ireland Road Race League Championship
|1986: Champion—Irish National Track Championships (Sprint, Kilo, Omnium)
|1988: 1st place—Stage 4, Northern Ireland International Milk Race
|1985: 1st place (pro)—Tour of Martha’s Vineyard, US
|1985: 1st place (pro)—Stage 1, Killington Stage Race, USA
|l990: 2nd place—Irish National Senior Road Race Championships (1st place—Team Championship)
|1987: 3rd place (pro)—Mengonie Grand Prix, US
|1984: 3rd place—Irish National Time Trial Championships (100-mile)
|Toga Bike Shop Pro Team
|Irish National Team