Get in Vogue with the cycling revolution
Alison O'Riordan talks to Model and DJ Vogue Williams about returning to Ireland to take part in the Skoda Cycle Series
With cycling one of the fastest growing leisure activities in Ireland, model and disc jockey Vogue Williams is putting in some serious pedal power in advance of The Skoda Cycle Series 2014, which begins in Sligo next month.
A series of seven cycling events that will appeal to all grades of cyclist, the event will kick off in April and will run until August, offering two course distances ranging from 50-80k to suit the novice or family cyclists, and 100-160k challenges for more seasoned cyclists.
Living in London with her husband Brian McFadden, the 28-year-old is finding time to fit in cycles despite her hectic schedule on the city's social scene with appearances recently at London Fashion Week and the Brit Awards after parties.
"Training is going well, I love my Skoda bike. I'm on the bike around twice a week so I've been using it as much as I can. While there are not too many hills in London, I'd say I spend about 40 minutes at a time on the bike."
The blonde star, who was formerly based in Australia with McFadden, also likes other forms of training, not just cycling.
"I train in the park by my house in London three to four times a week with a trainer and then another two days I go jogging with my dog. When I'm in Dublin I go to my local gym in Howth – The Fitness Agency – to train."
The reality TV star calls herself a leisure cyclist and is only getting used to donning the infamous skin-tight apparel while taking to the road on her carbon-fibre and aluminium road bike.
"I actually just took up cycling and my first race will be in Sligo, so I'm really looking forward to it. I'll have my sister there with me – it will be such a laugh."
Starting in Sligo on April 5 and finishing in Dundalk, on August 31, the series will also include events in Wicklow, Kerry, Wexford, Westport and Cork.
The other half of the smitten couple may even join in one of the seven cycle sportives. "I'm going to definitely try to fit in three cycling events, Brian will come along for support but I'm still trying to convince him to do a cycle. I'd say he will definitely do one."
Westport on July 19 offers the longest distance of the series, a gruelling 160k, something the leggy blond isn't fearful of.
"The first race in Sligo is a smaller distance but I'd love to work my way up to 160k."
All the routes have been chosen to incorporate some of the most breathtaking countryside across Ireland, something Vogue, who last year appeared on RTÉ documentary Vogue Does Home & Away, is very much looking forward to, considering she hasn't been based or lived in Ireland for some time.
"When I do stay in Ireland I live in Howth and it's gorgeous and has beautiful views. So I think getting to cycle around Ireland and take in the amazing countryside will be perfect."
The concept of the series is that all of the events are chip-timed; however, the events are not races and the idea is to help leisure cyclists improve over the series.
"It's great for me because I'm only starting cycling, so I am hoping to be much better by the end.
"However, I do have a competitive streak, so I'll definitely be going as fast as I can.
"But as my sister is doing the first race with me, I'd rather stick with her than race ahead, because she'll obviously be slower than me!" laughs the model in her renowned husky voice.
Each individual sportive series provides the opportunity for the cyclist to support local charities and cycle clubs; Vogue will be supporting a homeless charity.
The Sligo Champion's Sportive on April 5 and the Westportif in Westport, Co Mayo, on July 19 are the two races Vogue, who recently signed up to modelling agency Milk Management in London, is looking forward to most.
"The first race appeals to me most because it's the shortest and I'd also love to do the one in the west because it is so beautiful there."
The showbiz couple have put their plans to buy an Irish home on ice for now and intend to stay put in London for the time being.
"I most definitely want to move back to Ireland, for me that's home, but right now I won't be spending much time there, so there's no point in buying just yet."
Commenting, Raymond Leddy, head of marketing and product at Skoda Ireland, said: "We are delighted to be hosting this series of events with routes selected to showcase breathtaking scenery across the country. Skoda has a strong relationship with cycling both internationally – as an official partner of the Tour de France for over a decade – and here in Ireland as the sponsor of the Ring of Kerry Cycle and the Tour de Conamara to name but a few.
"We have seen first hand the growth in popularity of cycling with many saying it's the 'new golf', so we are really excited to be able to offer cycling enthusiasts a new and unparalleled programme of events. We look forward to cyclists from all around the country joining us for what promises to be an excellent experience."
Skoda Ireland has partnered up with Fit Magazine to launch the inaugural Skoda Cycle Series, comprising seven events, taking place across Ireland this summer. The leisure cycle series will kick off in April and run until August, offering Ireland's growing population of avid cyclists two course distances ranging from 50-80k and 100-160k. See www.fitmagazine.ie to find your closest event and to register.