By Tommy Campbell
Will there be candles, cake and music for Colm Bracken when he lines up on Sunday May 21 for the FBD Insurance Ras? It will be Bracken's 21st appearance in the race, a new record in the 53-year-old event.
Bracken got into the sport by chance. His sporting life started in football, but the manager of his team packed it in and the team went into decline. Bracken's brother, Sean, had taken up cycling and he would watch him race in the Phoenix Park.
"I just got the bug for cycling and joined the Les Jeunes cycling club as an under-16, said Colm Bracken. "From then it was a roller coaster as far as I was concerned, particularly with the Les Jeunes boys. Noel Scanlon and Peter Purfield more or less took care of us.
"A couple of years later I rode my first Ras. In those days it was sponsored by the National Dairy Council and FBD Insurance.
"I remember it so well. Everybody thought that I would not make it back to Dublin. They were all proved wrong! It was the year of the Russian domination with Nicola Kosiakov the winner and I was part of the much trimmed down bunch that played out the final stage in O'Connell Street. Ah! Those were the days when summer was summer and the chart toppers were Duran Duran.
"Fast forward to 1992 and the Italian connection! That was some race. Wearing the Green Jersey that year for the Galway team on stage 3 from Moycullen to Ennistymon. Taking the maillot jaune the next day on stage 4. Led from the front that day only to crash 200mts from the finishing line when forks broke off new bike and finished 10th but took yellow!
"Without name dropping, who did I relieve from the weight of the jersey? No less than Giuseppe Guerini. That was some memory!"
Not many cyclists have broken through the ton barrier, but Bracken has over 100 wins and he aims to keep on cycling. In this edition of the Ras he hopes to land a stage win for his Murphy Surveyors/Woodlands Kitchens team.
As for next year? "Well I'll be a veteran, so beware my friends I am on the way!" said Bracken as he put the finishing touches to the well mowed lawn in his Dublin suburban home.
"I'll continue to cycle as It keeps me fit and healthy and I think I would get old very quick if I stopped it!" he added.