Ryan and I have both had a very successful year topped off two weeks ago with us winning Cycling Ireland's Male and Female Cyclist of the Year awards. There was a few rocky periods, with Ryan's broken collarbone and me being raced out in the middle of the season, but it all came back together for us to finish the season wanting more - what more can you ask for? While Ryan is now enjoying cyclocross, I will hold off racing until the Cyprus sunshine cup to be fresh.
Stunning Cavan Crystal Vases we won for Male/Female Cyclist of the yearBeing unfunded privateer racers with full time job/PhD we really rely on the help of other people and companies to allow us to race and train the way we do. We both put everything from a time, financial and energy point of view into what we are doing and these people allow us to stretch that as much as possible.
First off, and most importantly we would like to thank Cycleways - Shane, Francis and the mechanics Michael and Conrad (well, everyone in there really - it is always nice popping in and getting a cheery "how are you") have helped us time and time again, whether it was sorting us out with the best race bikes out there (our Specialized S-Works Epics), fixing things we couldn't figure out, finding parts that are hard to find or just giving us great advice and encouragement - it is hard for us to say how much we appreciate the help without sounding cheesy! Thanks guys - we owe you a lot!
Specialized - we mostly dealt with Specialized through Cycleways but they were always great at supplying us with all the best race kit available. It is always possible to debate the best XC race bike whether it is a hardtail or full suspension or what type of suspension works best but one thing you can never argue with (if you tried them and if they fit you) is their shoes and helmets - we both love them.
TorQ, for the second year have been a huge support to Ryan and I. For any race we raced in the UK, we always looked forward to meeting Sasha and Matt and catching up. Not only do they make great products, but they are genuinely really nice people too. Ryan and I have always enjoyed being part of the team - especially the BBQs after TwentyFour/12 :)
KCNC/Clee Cycles - Ryan talked about KCNC products earlier in the week which I have also started using since last year. This year was the first year that we got some direct support. Andy from Clee Cycles was great to work with and they also have their own successful shop team too.
Schwalbe Tires - like Ryan I started using them when they came on a bike I bought and have not looked back since. My usual race setup is a Rocket Ron in front and a Racing Ralph on the back - which seems to be a common setup amongst Elite racers. Chris from Schwalbe was always amazing at making sure we had everything we needed and some...
We would also like to thank the following companies who have supported us in some way over the last year: Crankbrothers, Saris (for Ryan), Garmin and Physio Dynamics. Servicing pedals, telling Ryan his power output, pointing us in the right direction or fixing us after an incident - these guys helped make our season roll along smoothly.
Lastly, we would also like to thank everyone in the Irish mountain biking community - it has only been a couple of years since we started (and yes, we were non cyclists when we first met) but we have always been made feel so welcome from day one and encouraged along the way. It means a lot to us - thanks guys, and see you on the trails :)