Giro fever has certainly gripped the pupils of St. Patricks and St. Brigid’s Primary School as they launched their “Challenge 200” on Friday.
The launch, organised by the school’s PTA committee really turned out to be a morning of jam packed fun and surprises for all the kids and teachers.
Special guests and sponsors were met with a tea and pink cupcake reception in the school library with cupcakes kindly donated by Stephen and Teresa Boyle from the The Bay Cafe. The challenge got under way with a short educational seminar about the history of the Giro, what countries have hosted its start, Ireland’s only ever winner of the second biggest race in cycling, Stephen Roche, and a look at the three stages to take place in Northern Ireland during the 9-11th May 2014.
Rumour has it that Freddie Forte had bumped into a member of the PTA committee while he was training at the Vanishing Lake. He asked could he come along with some special guests to meet the kids and celebrate the arrival of the Giro d’Italia to Ballycastle. He challenged the kids of the Primary School to cycle the distance of Stage 2 of this year’s Giro, approximately 200 KM. The PTA kindly donated a kid’s racing bike to help them start their challenge but word got out and Halfords (Coleraine) decided that a few more bikes might be needed to help the kids along. A special thank you must go to Stephen Douthart and Kenny Donnelly from Halfords who came along to the launch with a child’s Balance Bike, a kid’s Mountain Bike and a cycling helmet. Cycling can be thirsty work and so McConvey Cycles (Ormeau Rd, Belfast) also donated loads of water bottles to be used during the challenge and to raffle any bottles that were left after the challenge was complete.
The pupils were also very lucky to meet special guests, Maurice McAllister, who is not only a founder member of Ballymoney Cycling Club and the Cycling Ulster YouthAcademy but also a long time friend of Stephen Roche who won the Giro d’Italia in 1987. Maurice chatted to the pupils about youth cycling and very kindly donated a kids Ballymoney CC racing jersey. The kids also got an opportunity to listen to Stephen McAllister, an A1 Rider from Ballymoney CC, who chatted to the kids about his bike, training and winning races.
Local shop owner, Patricia McNamara, from Living – Lighting, Furniture and Accessories came along to the challenge and really got into the spirit of the event wearing her own “Maglia Rosa”, pink jersey. Patricia kindly donated cycling-related novelty aprons, oven mitts and shopping bags.
The Challenge 200 finally got underway with the help of Mr Magee, Prinicpal, Mr Kinney, vice-principal, Erin O’Hara from P4 and surprise guests Twist and Bounce from Sport NI who all got on a bike and cycled the first kilometre together.
This challenge will continue until 9th May, the day before the Giro arrives in Ballycastle, and it is hoped that the kids will have cycled the full 200 KM using the racing bike that has been set up with a wireless computer to record distance travelled. To bring the launch of the challenge to a close Twist and Bounce from Sport NI led the way in the Bike Safety Boogie dance to remind the kids of the importance of not only wearing a safety helmet but also to give clear hand signalswhen out cycling on their own or with their friends.
The PTA committee wish all the kids the very best of luck with this unique Zero to Giro Challenge 200 and would also like to thank all the sponsors and special guests who worked together to make this morning extremely special for all the kids.