ARTI Member Conor Mc Ilwaine has been working with Cycling Ulster teams for the last two years and has traveled around Ireland and across the water to Wales and France.
Tell us about your recent work as an ARTC
I have been lucky enough to work alongside some of Ireland’s most talented athletes with Cycling Ulster. Many of the races were internationally renowned, such as ‘Ras na mBan’, a 5-day International Women’s Stage Race held in Kilkenny, and the ‘Junior Tour of Wales.’ ‘Travelling with the teams is definitely a perk of the job. It has allowed me to see some beautiful parts of the world’
What are your responsibilities when working with a cycling team?
In the cycling world the role is called ‘Soigneur’, which is French for helper/trainer. My responsibilities included: looking after the riders’ nutrition on and off the bike. This involved a feeding during the stage and examining and treating any injuries. In this role, you see a range of injuries from chronic injuries like lower back pain or overuse knee issues to injuries to acute injuries such as wrist sprains/breaks occurring during crashes. We also see more race day issues like bad road rash etc.
Did you manage any road crashes?
I have managed plenty of road crashes. In the cycling world, these are just so common particularly in stage races. Some can be difficult to manage in that they cover such a large area, and they can be nasty. The main thing is just to avoid infection at all costs. Making sure dressings are changed frequently and wounds kept clean is essential. Simple tips like vaseline and cling film at night to stop from sticking to the bedsheets is a simple trick of the trade.
Do you have any advice for ARTCs looking to get involved in the cycling community?
Well first things first I wouldn’t get involved at all if you don’t want to work hard. Working with cycling teams is quite taxing! You cover all the needs of the cyclists and not just massage and recovery. It is an exciting environment to be part of, from navigating your way to feed zones in the French countryside, dressing wounds and treating chronic injuries to buttering bread rolls in the back of the team van. As you can imagine, it can get quite busy. All in, a fantastic experience for anyone keen on traveling.
You’ve just returned from Rotterdam. How was that experience? How did working with Triathletes compare to working with just cyclists?
Rotterdam was a magnificent experience. The trip was just so relaxing. The high-octane paceh!! With regard to racing, the level was just so high, even though the weather was awful. I have a new-found respect for triathletes and there exceptional bike handling skills in the greasy, wet cobbles of Rotterdam. All in it was one of the best experiences I have had working with a team so far. The professionalism of Triathlon Ireland, meant that everything ran so smoothly. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to be involved in such a professional set-up. of cycling races couldn’t have differed more from the relaxed and focused triathlon approach. I even managed to get to see some of Rotterdam, provided I woke early enough!! Regarding racing, the level was just so high, even though the weather was awful. I have a new-found respect for triathletes and their exceptional bike handling skills in the greasy, wet cobbles of Rotterdam. All in it was one of the best experiences I have had working with a team so far. The professionalism of Triathlon Ireland, meant that everything ran so smoothly. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to be involved in such a professional set-up.