Late in 2018, my friend and cycling compatriot, James Lawlor talked to me about the entry of an eight man team in Race Around Ireland 2019. This is a really daft thing for these guys to take on. The average age of the team was 50+ (and more now). The race is a non stop ultra-endurance event and is not for the faint of heart. It is up there with the toughest in Europe. James suggested that I might look after the social media for the team (I wasn’t at all upset to be left out of the riding line up).
We then discussed what that might look like and agreed that we should not only do nothing on any social channel until the race was underway but that the eight riders should take their Strava accounts dark. That left me a little at a loose end.
I thought about it and suggested that we produce a video of the whole experience. There wasn’t much in it. After all, this was just a bunch of old men with too much time on their hands trying to relive their youth, wasn’t it?
Well, that’s how it started out. We started filming in March. It was a bitter cold, windy day up at the Sally Gap in County Wicklow. A bunch of the guys showed up and we shot some footage. My abiding memory (apart from being bloody cold) is one of a bond beginning to form.
My next filming was in April at the Orwell Randonnée. I began to understand what film people call “run and gun” filming. It’s exhausting. Get ahead of the group of cyclists. Find a suitable place to shoot. Get the cameras set up. Get the sound set up. Shoot as best you can as they speed by and hope you have a half decent ten seconds of footage. Take down the tripod, turn off the sound and the cameras. Load the car and chase the group who are long gone and moving at over thirty kilometres per hour. Get ahead, get set up, repeat and repeat and repeat.
Then there’s the on bike cameras, the 360º camera and the drone to consider. It’s complicated work.
On the May training day in Louth and Fermanagh the guys practiced stints and changeovers. It was a bit of a mess. They learned a lot. I learned a lot about how not to film. Again my abiding impression was one of camaraderie and team spirit.
Numerous training sessions up and down the country as well as endless hours in the edit suite got me ready for the race. The team rolled from the start line in Trim in August 2019. I rolled after them and spent an exhilarating and exhausting few days on the road filming, social media managing and acting as link man between the riders and concerned and excited family members. If you have half an hour spare, you can watch how the team fared in this ultra endurance challenge. I think it’s worth a look.
*That’s the age of the team at the time of the race. Belated Happy Birthday Ronan.