An inaugural cycling race took place yesterday, in an event designed to compete directly with the Giro d’Italia road race which sees one of the stages taking in Armagh.
Local organiser, Terence Kerr from the Rock, proudly told us,
“It was an unqualified success. I know we only had one person who entered for it who didn’t even finish, but that’s not the point. Well, it sort of is, but you’ve got to try, haven’t you? And what’s so special about Armagh anyway? It’s not a patch on Tyrone. It says in the paper they’re starting the race at the Shambles in Armagh. Why not Donaghmore? You should see thon speed bumps on the main street. Now they’re a proper feckin’ shambles. That’s why we’ve done our own race. Armagh can stick their apple orchards up their holes”.
The lone participant, 32-stone man Sidney Clarke from Cabragh, collapsed with exhaustion just two miles into the 124-mile route.
“I had done all my preparation and loads of training and was taking it all deadly serious”, he admitted regretfully. “In fact I bought so many go-faster stickers out of Argos I couldn’t fit them all on my Raleigh Chopper. And all the gears were working apart from the first and second, so I’m not really sure what went wrong”.
Onlooker Gerard McMahon from Urney confirmed,
“Ah, now poor Sidney wouldn’t be fastest thing on two wheels. Some of the wee’ans coming out of St Joseph’s at home time were going faster than him. The poor man was on the bike for three hours, and that was just going up Pomeroy main street. And I don’t really think the stabilisers helped much. The critter. Sweat was lashin’ off him. He’s a big lad, carrying plenty of beef. By the time he finished, they had to burn the saddle. Tara”.
Kerr advised that the Giro D’Onaghmore race originally attracted interest from over 300 people, until nearly all of them realised the race was nothing to do with collecting their Giro from the post office on a Thursday morning. Plans are already underway for a 2015 cycling event, the Tour de Fintona.
An Italian cyclist, who arrived in Ireland this week to attempt a dry run of the Irish leg of Giro d’Italia later in the year, became the unlucky recipient of Coalisland’s first parking ticket during a shopping trip in the town today.
Giovanni Sherri (28) was told by the warden that his bike was badly parked up against a wall outside Dorman’s Pharmacy and was issued with a £60 on the spot fine as well as a verbal warning about future conduct by warden Joe Quinn from the town himself.
Bystander and local man Kieran Corr (64) saw the whole incident pan out:
“I had just been saying to myself that the bike was badly parked. It had only the handlebar against the wall, instead of both wheels and the seat too. It was an accident waiting to happen. Thank God that traffic warden appeared out of nowhere and saved the day. We in Coalisland pride ourselves on our perfect parking tradition. How would he like it if we went to Italy and made spaghetti out of bits of string? Local customs must be upheld.”
Corr refuted suggestions that a spoof warden was used to get the media off their backs due to their suspiciously clear record. There were also reports of the warden Quinn buying a round of drinks in O’Neill’s later:
“Nonsense. OK, he was a local lad but he has an official yellow jacket, clipboard and ticket book. “
Meanwhile, Sherri admitted he enjoyed his time touring Tyrone and especially liked Stewartstown, describing it as ‘like something from 100 years ago’.
“I even met my far out relatives, the original McSherrys, who emigrated to Italy in the 1600s because they liked ice cream, meatballs, the mafia and fighting lions.”
He later admitted he wouldn’t be back.
Pomeroy, and its famed mountains, was said tonight to be ‘livid’ as news of the route for the Giro d’Italia was released today with Belfast, the Glens of Antrim and Armagh the designated stages. The Italian Quarter in Cappagh are also said to be a bit ‘miffed’, having bought in a lorryload of ice cream for the occasion.
There will be three stages to the race – a 22 km time trial around Belfast, a loop around the north coast and a cross border final stage, with Drumquin also sensationally snubbed despite them even having a song about their hills too.
Patsy Devlin, a cycling enthusiast from Pomeroy, summed up the feelings of his disappointed home-place:
“Some shower. Are they afeard to tackle our mountains? They think they’re deadly climbing the Alps and all but that’s a doddle compared to Grimes’ Hillock or Kavanagh’s Mound. I’d like to see Bradley Wiggles attempt Sigerson’s Hump with buck goats darting at you from both sides or trying to negotiate a spontaneous Philomena Begley concert half way up Cavanakeeran. Wimps. Buckin wimps.”
Drumquin’s Tessie Hurson also couldn’t contain her anger:
“We’re furious. When we heard the Giro was coming here we were sure Drumquin would be first on the list. We even painted the roads with motivational slogans like ‘Keep er lit’, ‘Shoe to the burd’ and ‘Suckin Diesel’. I’ve no doubt the words of The Hills Above Drumquin have put these pansies off: “This life is sad and dreary, and the task of it is sore, My feet are growing weary, I may never wander more;”
Meanwhile, Slieve Gallion locals have welcomed news of the route with Johnny Irwin claiming they never wanted a pile of nosey-parkers sniffing around their braes as “there’s things going on in them there mountains that no one needs to know about” before winking and walking off, smelling of potatoes, malted barley and diesel.