Offaly cyclist taking on the world

OFFALY cyclist Francine Meehan and her partner in the Female Tandem Catherine Walsh are in Los Angeles this week to compete in the 2012 UCI Paracycling Track World Championships.

OFFALY cyclist Francine Meehan and her partner in the Female Tandem Catherine Walsh are in Los Angeles this week to compete in the 2012 UCI Paracycling Track World Championships.

The duo are hoping to make it three in a row in terms of World Championship Medals. Francine and Catherine are currently Track World Champion Bronze Medal holders.

They have been selected to compete in the 1km Time Trial and 3km Individual Pursuit. A decision will be taken later on whether they will participate in the Sprint Competition which is being held for Female Tandems for the first time in LA.

Francine is the sighted pilot of the team who hope to make an impact at London 2012.

Training at home in the Tullamore Court Hotel and on the roads has been intense for the team as they look to capitalise on the training and hard work put in over the last two years.

Ahead of the World Championships the team attended a training camp and Francine noted, “The track sessions are very intense but short which build speed in the legs without inducing fatigue, unlike the last camp in Palma Majorca we were doing anywhere up to five hours a day. The goal is to ‘keep the goal the goal’ as our strength coach would say while he batters us in the gym. The goal is to stay calm, focused and go very fast.”

Speed is of the essence in an event such as the pursuit with the opposing team starting on the opposite side of the banked track. While qualification for the race off is ultimately decided on times, having another team to chase will help the Irish pair. Francine explains that the final minutes before the start are the toughest.

“This three minutes feels like a life time. At this point you have to shut out the crowed the other bike on the opposite side of the track, and just focus. When the call comes, Catherine and I give each other the nod as if to say lets rock and head to the bike.”

The goal for the team is to record laps of 17.7 seconds which when you consider the track is 250 metres long is an incredible speed which averages at 50kph.

Both Francine and Catherine will go through the pain barrier in the hopes of gaining another World Championship medal. The training has been intense with Francine spending much of her time training closer to home and she is thankful for all the assistance she received..

She remarked, “Standing on the podium getting your medal and flower knowing that you’re in the national jersey is a nice feeling this is really the little thanks we can give to all those who helped us get here. Without the support of our team we build around us; our family, partners, coaches, massage therapists, bike mechanics and the generous local businesses that make this possible, I would like to thank all of them and Tullamore Court Hotel that let us use their pool and gym.”