Irish champions Tarja and Niall spoil me

Yesterday was my first real day on the green island. I’d been scooped up from Dublin airport by Niall Davis, a downhilling pro with a brown curly helmet of hair, and scooted back to the Ballinastoe cottage adjacent to their pet project: the first mountain biking park in Ireland. It’s been their mission for four years, the last year being full-time for him, while Tarja maintains a physio practice part-time as well. No slack time for either.

On the hour’s drive back from the airport I asked if he knew how long they would be allowed to develop the burgeoning fat tire tourism. And– more to the point– did he know Emma Guy and Tracy Brunger got booted from Glentress, the most successful of the Scottish Forestry /bike tourism initiative? Because as soon as it’s shown to make money, ‘real businessmen’ shoved them aside?

Niall replied, “well, we don’t know how long we’ll get  shoto stay…”

“Maybe give the women a jingle and find out if there’s anything you can do at the start of your project to protect your sweat equity”.

“Could do. Should do.”

Is it my nature to ferret out the tricky issue within thirty minutes of meeting someone, then digging it up an’ shaking it around?

You already know the answer (faithful reader/rider).

This couple is a much-decorated pair, Tarja (pron “Tar-ya”), 34, anIrish champion, competed at OlympSydneypix but some unfortunate political infighting took away her zest for world level racing even though she qualified for Athens four years later. The loss is the sport’s, but the gain is all the people that she and Niall (pron: “Nile” like the Egyptian river) her partner teach and tour with both here and in Italy.

Once or twice a year they lead cycle tours at a town near lago di Garda, at a hotel where the auntie does the superb cooking, and the trails around t

he lake develop the appetite of the visitors.

The pair organized a meet and ride at the Ticknock Forest overlooking Dublin…and about a dozen people met at the Ticknock trailhead, we rode as a group for a pleasant sunset hour on a lovely purpose-built track, and dove into the cucumber and cheese sammies we’d made. And tea.Of course tea. Thanks to Gordon Lucas, gentleman farmer for lovely organic vegetables, and to Janos  What’s his name and Bryan with a Y Joyce, triple great grandnephew of the literary lion

It took all my selling prowess to unload two five-euro embroidered patches to my unsuspecting victims….it’s gonna be tough to sell a hundred, and make about a third of my airfare… hmmm.

Special aftermath. They took me to Johnny Fox’s, a 200 year old pub that resembles the best antique shop I’ve ever been in….had spectacular lamb shank and perfectly steamed farm vegetables, and my first of perhaps a few Smithwick’s  …lovely. If chdot wants to add links, i will not object. Unable to make microsoft computer do this…

~ by jacquiephelan on August 25, 2011.

One Response to “Irish champions Tarja and Niall spoil me”

  1. I found this online: (Until mountain biking came along, the bike scene was ruled by a small elite cadre of people who seemed allergic to enthusiasm. ~Jacquie Phelan ) and then looked up your blog. What year was that quote from? CHEERS

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