Belfast Telegraph

Three generations saddling up to take Gran Fondo challenge

By Joanne Sweeney

It will be a family affair for the Maylins when they ride in the Gran Fondo Giro D'Italia race.

Three generations of the Co Antrim clan will take to the roads to cover the 110-mile ride on Sunday.

Bob Maylin (75) is travelling over from England to join his son Ian (50) and grandson Louis (16) to cycle in the closed road circuit event.

The event - being run as part of the legacy of last year's Giro d'Italia this weekend - has attracted 3,200 male and female riders, the vast majority of them from Northern Ireland.

Apart from being a sporting event, there will be a definite family feel to the race as relatives and supporters of those taking part will be able to try their own cycling skills in an outdoor velodrome, which is being brought to Ireland for the first time.

Ian, who lives in Jordanstown, Co Antrim, is chair of Carrickfergus Cycling Club.

He told the Belfast Telegraph that while it was his father who started off the family's love of cycling, both he and his dad expect Louis to leave them standing going up the many inclines on Sunday.

"Louis just eats up the hills, it must be down to his youth," said Ian.

"We were out at the weekend on a long route and he was really quick on the hills.

"So I expect him to do just the same at the Gran Fondo.

"My father is coming over especially for the race and it's always nice for us to take part in a race together.

"While we have taken a couple of races before together at home and in England and in France, this is by far the biggest and we are all looking forward to it."

The gruelling Mourne route - which goes from Titanic Belfast to Spelga Dam and back again - will be the longest race in which Louis has competed.

The Belfast High School student is one of the young members of the Carrickfergus club, but his father says that he is confident his son is up to the challenge.

"He will be tired but he will do it," said the owner of an IT consultancy .

"We did a 105-mile route last week and he handled it fine.

"And we have had a few training sessions over the Mournes, so I think he's more than up for it.

"Louis must have been only about four when I took him along the towpath to cycle home to Jordanstown.

"And I think I was about 12 when my father started me off.

"He developed a love for cycling as a teenager in London and passed it on to me.

"Although my father has been retired for about 20 years, he still manages to do around 200 miles a week, so he is also very fit."

While Louis may be one of the youngest riders taking part on Sunday, a 100 even younger cyclists will participate in Saturday's Big Pink Pedal organised by Sustrans.

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Five facts about the race

3,200 riders will take part in the Gran Fondo on Sunday, and 300 are women.

2,650 of the riders are from Northern Ireland.

414 riders are from the Republic of Ireland.

Five of the riders are travelling from Australia.

Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland and the US are each fielding a rider for the Northern Ireland event.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph