THE 'miracle baby' Michelle Dolan had so long hoped for arrived after she discovered a passion for cycling which vastly improved her physical and mental health.
Now PRO officer with Cuchulainn Cycling Ladies Club, Michelle tells how years of fertility treatment had taken its toll on her health and fitness. But weeks into the training she discovered a change in her lifestyle.
'I was less likely to drink too much alcohol or buy a takeaway on Friday evening when I was planning to go out early on Saturday morning for a spin with the club.'
But on the eve of the maracycle she had been training hard for, Michelle discovered she was pregnant with her first longed-for child.
'While all the prayers of my friends and family must have had a part in our blessing, I also believe the good physical and mental health I enjoyed as a result of my new cycling life contributed to the good fortune.'
She added: 'The gods were certainly smiling on me, and, after a second baby girl, I returned to the bike by joining a beginner's group and building my confidence and fitness again.'
'Over the past five years, I have cycled thousands of kilometres in sunshine, wind, and even hailstones. My first attempt to climb Jenkinstown HIll burned strongly in my mind as I climbed Alpe d'Huez with other club mates in France this summer.'
'Now I know that I can do anything I set my mind to, my cycling experiences have impacted on all aspects of my life.'
And with a whole new challenge on the horizon, Michelle added: 'I genuinely believe that nothing is impossible and that confidence is cycling's gift to me as I face into my first Dublin marathon in October.'
Cycling improved Annette Dawe's health, fitness, and positive outlook, but also her love life!
'I joined Cuchulainn CC back in 2010, a few places became available for a charity cycle from Mizen head to Malin head and I thought "why not?"'
'We had over 600km in three days to cover and with only six weeks to go the training began! Previous to this I'd been involved in triathlon but wasn't familiar with the long training sessions in the saddle that followed.
'The trip was probably one of the hardest things I've undertaken but it was also one of the best. I met my soon-to-be husband on that trip and we're getting married in five weeks time.'
Annette added: 'There is a great sense of community within the club and people look out for each other, everyone had the same distance to cover over the three days whether you were a beginner like myself or a more experienced cyclist. It's a club with something to offer all levels and abilities on the road or in the mountains.'
'Cycling is a big part of our lives now and we're even going on a cycling holiday for our honeymoon. From league racing, to charity cycles and holidays in France and Scotland and of course the new friends I've made, joining Cuchulainn CC has definitely changed my life for the better.'