Monday 19 March 2018

'I've a new love for cycling through fundraising'

Like many, Keith Duffy came to really appreciate cycling later in life and it is a key part of his now super-fit lifestyle.

"Cycling was never something I was really into as a kid. Like most kids I suppose you might have had a bike under your arse hanging around the estate and as a form of transport before you were old enough to drive, but apart from that I was not into it," Keith explains.

"It was really when the recession kicked in and we had a huge financial deficient in terms of funding for the charity because a lot of the charity functions were null and void then, the likes of black tie functions and masquerade balls, so we needed to go back to the drawing board."

To remedy the situation Keith turned to sporting activities, starting with a 5k run to fundraise for Irish Autism Action, a charity he has been heavily involved with for a number of years. Gradually he began to put his body on the line with even bigger fundraising events and tailoring his training to meet these challenges.

"It's really down to the charity work that I found this new love for cycling and it's been great. The one guy that champions me and stands beside me in everything I do in my fitness regime is Paul Byrne of BodyByrne. I was training with him when he asked if I had ever thought of doing a triathlon," Keith explains.

"I had no bike and I didn't cycle, but he said not to worry about that, that we'd start training for it. So it started there. I went out then to a lovely man by the name of Richie McNamara who owns a little cycling shop in Swords and I had a little chat with him, told him what I wanted to do, and he said he would help me out.

"Richie has a guy with him too called Frank and he is more into the science side of cycling, which is great," Keith adds.

"People don't realise they go in and they buy a bike and they jump on it and they do an hour-and-a-half and they have a sore back, their thumbs are numb, they are just uncomfortable and the reason for that is the bike is not properly set up for them.

"So Frank will measure all of the angles with you on the bike. He is a genius and it is the difference between heading out on the bike for an hour and your toes going numb, and getting out and enjoying it for longer."

For Keith one of the huge attractions to cycling is the room for recovery you get on a bike in between the gruelling hills and more testing stretches on a cycle.

"Cycling is a cardiovascular exercise that realistically, anybody of any fitness can go out and do for two or three hours because you have rest periods on a bike, you have down hills and you have straights so your body recovers," he explains. "It's a great way of getting fit."

Since unintentionally igniting his passion for cycling Keith has taken part in events for Irish Autism Action all over the world, including a mammoth journey from Geneva to Monte Carlo in 2011 over four days, which took him on some of the toughest stages of the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia routes.

Keith has also travelled to study various courses and classes relating to the sport abroad. He is just back from the USA where he took part in various cycle studio courses and now plans to bring the phenomenon to Ireland.

"People know about spinning classes, but spinning has evolved," Keith explains. "Cycle studios give more of a grounded, homeopathic environment with scented rooms and darker lighting; in America these classes are called Soul Cycle and I love the whole concept. It's brilliant, people from all fitness levels can do it and the bikes move, they are called Real Riders, so you are engaging your core as well and when you are climbing the bikes move with you; I'm looking to have a studio and restaurant up and running here in the next three or four months."

In conversation with Joanna Kiernan

Irish Independent

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