Unless you’ve been hidden under a rock for the past few months you’ll be well aware that two of the world’s biggest cycle races will be starting from Ireland and the UK this year.
With Yorkshire hosting the start of the Tour de France, and Belfast and Dublin the settings for the first legs of the Giro d’Italia, you could argue that it’s a shame they’re taking place in the same year and potentially overshadowing each other, depending on which side of the Irish Sea you are based.
“On the other hand,” considers Mara Media MD Hugh Bonner, “perhaps it’s an indicator of how far cycling has come in the UK and Ireland?”
Mara Media has been closely working with the team behind the Giro d’Italia and Dublin’s City Council to combine for a cycle extravaganza over the weekend of May 10th and 11th based in the picturesque Georgian surrounds of Merrion Square Park.
“The Irish Cycling Show is right by the finish line,” Bonner tells BikeBiz, “so we’re in the same square with all the hoopla going on. People will come to the Giro for the atmosphere and to be near the finishing line, plus they’ll have a show beside them so they’ll be able to make a day of it. There’ll be food stalls and the like too.”
Team work has been key to putting on the show, Bonner explains: “The Giro d’Italia
team wanted a good locale to finish, the Council wants to promote the area and we wanted to be where the action is, so it’s a case of team work that is bringing it all together.
“It takes a number of years to establish the Irish Cycling Show as we started it from scratch. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort over the last two years and this year with the Giro it’s going to be quite different and it will help us raise the show up to where we want it to be. We’re a small company so we can’t throw money at the show so we have been gradually building it up, but working with the Giro d’Italia will really put it on the map.”
Speaking of starting from scratch, how did Mara Media come to put together the Irish Cycling Show in the first place?
“We spied a gap in the market. I enjoy cycling and rode Dublin to Paris a few years ago. While we were riding I chatted with the other cyclists and we talked about why there is no cycling show in Ireland. At Mara Media we run a number of shows and I’m interested in something that is green and sustainable and cycling fits that.”
The industry is performing well – cycle to work is five years old sense that people are progressing – renewing their bike – from a basic one to a carbon one. You can see it on the ground, the amount of riders you see, the cycle hire in Dublin, the number of events and sportives, etc.
So who is signed up for the 2014 show? Mara Media’s Grace McDermott fills us in: “We’ve got some big names signed up now. Rapha Team Sky is bringing the same stand it had at the London Bike Show and it’s the first time they’ve exhibitied in Ireland like this so that’s a big deal. Extra UK has a big space booked and we’ve got Chain Reaction Cycles for the first time. They will also bringing the same stand as they had at the London Bike Show.
“Kona – who have supported us from day one – will be there and theys always work hard to make their stand quirky. They have been hounding me about the specs of the stand so they can finalise their plans.
“Madison is back at the show too. They’ve also been a supporter right from day one and it’s great to see they value the Irish market and the show.”
“Moore Large are on board too, as are Kask helmets, SiS, Trek, Dawes, Apex, the Nicholas Roche performance team and many more.”
McDermott added: “The show is going to be unique with the Giro d’Italia. Dublin City Council has been great and we’re all enthusiastic. We want it to be really special and we’re up to the challenge.”
And beyond this year, what has Bonner got lined up for the Irish Cycling Show?
“Our plan is simple – to grow the event to be a world class show, attracting national and international visitors, showing the best products, being unique and having a warm welcome too.”