Mayo Wheelers Cycling Club History, Westport in Co. Mayo
Mayo Wheelers was born in 1995 primarily through the efforts of Tom O’Toole and Brian O’Loughlin as the authors of this dream to try and develop a strong club to represent all the rather scattered cycling fraternity of the county on a national level. Some people were not registered with any club and these together with the 2 existing cubs in the county, Holymount and Annagh Wheelers threw their lot in with this new county club team despite the fact that they represented vastly different ideologies. Some were racing orientated while others were strictly touring orientated.
Within a year of the formation of the club and with the riders to participate at national level events Mayo Wheelers growth and it profile rose very sharply, For the first time in years Mayo Wheelers had a Mayo county team in the FBD Milk Ras and this was the prelude to a run of 6 consecutive years participation in this event which included David O’Loughlin holding the leaders yellow jersey, an extremely rare occurrence in recent times for any county team considering the restrictions imposed on the make up of the county teams against the unrestricted composite international teams.
The club also established a very high profile nationally with the establishment of a number of top quality races with the 3 day/ 4 stage Ras Connachta which was resurrected after several years absence and continued by Mayo Wheelers to grow to one of the top 4 events in the national calendar. The club have hosted national championship events including the first ever Irish Under 23 championship following a successful proposal by the club to National Congress for the inclusion of this international category. The club went on to host this championship again in recent years together with the National Junior, Vets and Ladies Championships and this year host the Senior Ladies and Elite Men Irish Championship.
Mayo Wheelers also host a number of National single day events including the Mayo /Sheffrey Grand Prix and the semi-nocturnal Westport Criterium around closed street of the town in the height of the tourist season. In addition the club has been very active in developing leisure/touring events and have raised considerable funding for local charities, such as the Council for the Blind, the Red Cross among other, through the sheeffry Challenge and the inauguration in 2005 of the annual Pole to Pole 300 mile charity cycle to raise funding for the Irish Association of Suicidology.
Since its inception Mayo Wheelers have been represented every year on the Connacht Cycling Federation and have contributed to this organisation at every opportunity. The club remains committed to continue to grow and to promote high quality events tht we can be proud of.
By Brian O'Loughlin, Mayo Wheelers