Leitrim Cycling Festival 2023 – in my element?

As the festival started this year a friend said to me ‘you must be in your element now’.

As an introvert, being a festival organiser is definitely not me in my element which got me thinking about why I do what I do.

After moving back home to Leitrim in the summer of 2015 I felt very alone in my love for cycling and its potential to change lives in so many different ways.

Back in the UK my whole life had revolved around cycling – redesigning city streets for people on bikes during the day, cycle advocacy in the evenings and cycle touring with friends whenever I could in between. I was surrounded by people who ‘got’ cycling.

Convinced I wasn’t the only one in Leitrim, I selfishly started the festival to meet other people who ‘got’ cycling and hopefully along the way convince some more.

Seven years later my wish has absolutely come true.

I now have a rich, varied, inspiring, ever-growing community of wonderful people from across the country who also get cycling.

Our little festival continues to grow, people come back year after year, the kids get bigger, I learn more, I get inspired and re-inspired and we have a huge amount of fun along the way.

This year there were so many moments that almost brought tears to my eyes: Manon’s beautiful film on Friday night made me so proud to be part of women-led initiative and reminded me that I am a part of something so much bigger; watching little ones waiting patiently as their bikes were lovingly fixed by Tadhg of Moran’s Bike Shop and Phil; hearing the excitement of finding Fionn Rogan’s hidden haikus as we cycled to our picnic; the appreciation for the cheese feast donated by our lovely friends in Leitrim Hill Creamery; the queues for free ice-cream thanks to the Leitrim-West Cavan branch of DSI; the laughter of all who watched Jay Ryan’s amazing Flea Circus (I love how he demands children to use their imagination and hope he brings that joy far and wide); the quiet concentration as a missing link on the greenway got beautified with chalk; the seriousness with which grown ups took the slow bicycle race; the generosity of Simone (and the deliciousness of his pizzas); the wonder of Phil’s brilliantly devised Bicycle Race board game; the cycle to Fenagh through lush green; realising Yika had washed up again, the willingness of people (especially Mat) to take on any role required of them, no matter how last minute; the chats; the people…..all those people who ‘get’ cycling and get why coming together means so much.

Thank you all.

And a huge thanks to all the people in Ballinamore who helped make it happen – Jennie (who seemed to be able to be everywhere all at once, doing everything that needed doing), Phil (who quietly shared lots of his ideas and skills), Claire (who encouraged us to use the beautiful spaces in the Island Theatre and took charge of making feasts happen) and Kay (who knows everyone, talked to everyone that needed to be talked to and made sure we did things properly).

And thanks of course to my co-organiser Laura – my fellow introvert who definitely gets it. x

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