Loughnane turns to pedal power in new women's event

Pedal pushers: At the launch of the new women's cycling event, Velo na mBan, were from left; Ciara Finlay of Portumna CC, Helen Campbell of Croke Park to Killimor Cycle, World champion 20k walker Olive Loughnane, Niamh Lawless of Seven Springs CC, and Grainne Costello of An Rothar Cycling Club. Photo: Larry Morgan.

Pedal pushers: At the launch of the new women's cycling event, Velo na mBan, were from left; Ciara Finlay of Portumna CC, Helen Campbell of Croke Park to Killimor Cycle, World champion 20k walker Olive Loughnane, Niamh Lawless of Seven Springs CC, and Grainne Costello of An Rothar Cycling Club. Photo: Larry Morgan.

World champion walker Olive Loughnane is set to exchange foot power for pedals.

The 2009 Berlin gold medallist is taking part in a new women's-only cycling event in County Galway to raise funds for children and young people with special needs.

Loughnane, who won gold for the 20k after original winner Russian Olga Kaninska was stripped of her title last year, launched the event which will take place in October in her home village of Carrabane in east Galway .

This "velo na mBan" is the county's first women's sportive and all proceeds will go to the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, a Clarinbridge-based national charity.

"Velo na mBan will be my first ever biking event," says Loughnane, "and I'm inviting women from across Ireland to join me in taking to the roads of east Galway and supporting the work of the Irish Pilgrimage Trust.

"Research shows there is a massive gap in cycling participation between men and women, and I'm hoping many women will use this event as an opportunity to take up cycling for the first time. The health benefits from cycling are substantial, it truly is a sport for life," she says.

Cycle organiser, Ciaran Cannon, says the event has twin aims - to support the work of the charity and also to encourage more women to take up cycling.

"Velo na mBan will be a special event with a focus on camaraderie, friendship and fun for women cyclists of all abilities. We will have three different routes covering 30, 60 and 90 kilometres with full backup and support along the road.

"There are a growing number of women who have begun cycling and we hope that Velo na mBan will encourage even more to do so.

Cycling has undergone immense growth in popularity in recent years, and Mr Cannon says four clubs were represented at the launch of Velo na mBan, Portumna Cycling Club, the Loughrea-based Seven Springs Cycling Club, An Rothar Cycling Club based in New Inn and Kilconnell, and also a representative from the successful Croke Park to Killimor Cycle.

Details for Velo na mBan can be found on the event Facebook page at facebook.com/velonamban Registration for the event is open.

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