The feedback from the An Post Tour of Sligo 2012 held over the Bank Holiday weekend has been overwhelmingly positive with the many visiting and local participants acknowledging the outstanding community spirit in evidence from start to finish according to Event Co-ordintor Deirdre Lavin. She stated that cyclists widely acknowledged the organisation and voluntary effort which contributed to a great event.
Since November 2011 a committee of 10 people involving Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership, Innisfree Wheelers and Eire Og Cycling Clubs, Sligo County Council and County Sligo VEC have been working on the event planning with support from the national sponsors an Post and the Irish Sports Council. Funding from Failte Ireland ensured that the event promoted far and wide. Behind the scenes there were over 250 volunteers working to ensure an enjoyable, safe and positive event for all over the weekend.
Safety for cyclists was a key priority and the organising committee worked very closely with the Garda Siochana in the lead up to the event and on the day. The event received outstanding support from the Gardai with over 15 road junctions manned across the various events to ensure safety of cyclists and other road users. This was supported by the services of the Red Cross, Civil Defence, Mountain Rescue. Safety vehicles provided by local motor cyclists, Halfords, Chain Driven Cycles, Flannagans and Burns Car Sales ensured that no cyclist was left stranded on the roadside.
Over 150 marshalled along the 100 mile route. The event got great support for marshalling from GAA clubs along the routes including Coolera GAA Club, Collooney Handball club, Owenmore Gaels GAA, St. Farnans GAA Club, Cloonacool GAA club, St. Patricks GAA Club and St. Marys GAA Club. In addition, Ballygawley Celtic, Dt. John’s FC, Sligo Motor Club, Sligo Warriors Festival Committee, Higashi Kasrate Club, Mugendo Kick Boxing Club, Sligo Sub Aqua Club and volunteers recruited through Sligo Volunteer Centre and many individuals from the community helped out with the marshalling at key locations. The involvement of transition year students from Summerhill College and Sligo Grammer School was welcomed.
Food stops along the route were a particularly welcome sight for the cyclists who were glad to avail of refreshments. St. John’s Hospital Garden Room Committee put a huge effort into co-ordinating the various food stops and catering for such a large volume of cyclists involved making over 1000 portions of pasta and 2,000 sandwiches. Sponsorship form SuperValu for food items ensured cyclists were able to fuel up sufficiently. Coolaney Development Company hosted the food station for the 100K while St. Michaels GAA Club Ballintogher was the food hub for the Lough Gill circuit and a new food station for 2012 for the 160K was facilitated by Dromore West Community Centre. All three community facilities looked splendid and the good food and a warm welcome which greeted the cyclists in the venues was appreciated by all.
In addition, to the foodstops the cyclists welcomed the opportunity to top up on fluids, sponsored by Glencar Water, along the routes at water stops hosted at Ladies Brae by Easkey Family Resource Centre and at Coolera House by the local GAA club.
On crossing the finish line cyclists got a warm and well deserved welcome home and enjoyed refreshments at IT Sligo including pastries sponsored by O Hehir’s Bakery.
Those with aching muscles also could avail of a massage provided by local Irish Chartered Physiotherapists.
The Family Fun Day and 10K Hazelwood Spin for all proved a great success on Saturday 5th May. With generous funding support from Sligo Borough Council as part of the celebration of 400 years of the Charter a host of fringe events were facilitated including a BMX display, entertainment, face painting while a Go Karting Fun Track facilitated by Flanagan Cycles proved a big hit. The co-operation and support of the local cycling shops and providers for the family fun day including North West Adventures, Halfords, Chain Driven Cycles, Flanagan Cycles and Gary Cycles added to the quality of the experience for the children.
For the first time the An Post Tour of Sligo was hosted over a Bank Holiday weekend with feedback suggesting that local business benefited significantly from the event and the support of local hotels for the event including the Glasshouse, Southern Hotel, Sligo Park Hotel and Clarion Hotel was appreciated.
St. Johns Hospital Sligo were the nominated charity for the event and any outstanding sponsorship cards may be dropped in to St. Johns Hospital of the SSRP offices. “Given the outstanding contribution St John’s Hospital make to the event they richly deserve every support they get in sponsorship for their Garden Room Project” stated Deirdre Lavin SSRP.
Overall the collective effort and co-operation of many agencies and community groups ensured that 2012 cycle supported by An Post and the Irish Sports Council was highly successful and this was summed up in the comment from the cyclist involved:
“Very well organised, very well marshalled, very friendly people and volunteers and staff. First time in Sligo and first time to do this cycle. Hope to do it again next year. Weather great and scenery superb”. Pat Mullally, Kilkenny
The An Post Tour of Sligo Committee wishes to say a big thank you to all who volunteered and contributed in any way to making the An Post Tour of Sligo 2012 a great success, not least the many well wishers along the routes who waved flags, clapped the cyclists and gave words of encouragement all making for a warm Sligo welcome and a great sense of community.