The An Post Tour of Sligo over the May Bank Holiday weekend was a great sporting occasion for Sligo and one of the highlight events of the year to mark Sligo European Town of Sport.
Throughout the weekend over 2,400 cyclists of all ages and cycling experience enjoyed a great cycling occasion and their feedback was hugely positive with the many visiting and local participants acknowledging the outstanding community spirit and welcome they witnessed as they peddled through 100 miles of countryside and villages. On crossing the finishing line many cyclists remarked on the organisation and voluntary effort which contributed to a great event.
Since last November, Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership has worked with a committee involving Innisfree Wheelers and Eire Og Cycling Clubs, Sligo County Council and County Sligo VEC on the event planning with support from the national sponsors An Post and the Irish Sports Council.
Safety for cyclists was a key priority and the collective efforts of all safety personnel working over the weekend was widely acknowledged and appreciated by the cyclists. The organising committee worked very closely with the Garda Siochana in the lead up to the event and on the day, while the services of the Red Cross, Sligo and Leitrim Civil Defence and Mountain Rescue were on hand along the routes to assist with safety. Throughout the event the mechanical support vehicles were in demand with punctures and tyre problems in need of repair and the swift response and helpful manner of the service personnel greatly appreciated by stranded cyclists. Safety and support vehicles provided by local motor cyclists, Halfords, Chain Driven Cycles, Flannagan Cycles, Gary Cycles and Martin Reilly Motors ensured that no cyclist was left on the roadside.
Over 150 volunteers from sports clubs and community organisations marshalled along the 100 mile route and cyclists were particularly praiseworthy of their friendliness and positive words of encouragement.
Food stops along the route were a particularly welcome sight for the cyclists who were glad to avail of refreshments. With over 2,000 sandwiches and 1,500 pasta dishes eaten the generous sponsorship of the main food sponsors O Hehirs Bakery and SuperValu was greatly appreciated. Special Olympic Connaught, the chosen charity for the event, co ordinated the foodstops with the support of local community organisations including Coolaney Development Company, St. Michaels GAA Club Ballintogher and Dromore West Community Centre. All three community facilities were packed with cyclists 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 and energy bars sponsored by Glencar Water and Good 4 U.
On crossing the finish line cyclists got a warm and well deserved welcome home and enjoyed refreshments at IT Sligo with availing of a massage provided by local Irish Chartered Physiotherapists.
The main events was preceeded by the Family Fun Day and 10K Hazelwood Spin for all which proved a great success on Saturday 3rd May. With generous funding support from the Sligo Borough Council 458 committee a host of fringe entertainment events were facilitated and North West Adventures were on hand to lead the 2 K Bike Trail.
Special Olympics Connaught were the nominated charity for the event and any outstanding sponsorship cards may be returned to their headquarters in Collooney or may be dropped into the Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership offices.
Sligo Sport and Recreation Partnership wishes to say a big thank you to all who volunteered and contributed in any way to making the An Post Tour of Sligo 2014 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 community sporting occasion for Sligo.