Michael Shields is originally from Galway and has been our PR since the club’s first year in 2008. He has been instrumental in getting the Club up and running and has been very generous with his time and energy since he joined. Michael returned to the Eire isle from a 10 year stint in Australia. Lucky for him, Michael’s wife, Deborah, is from Bennettsbridge and so he had his excuse to move to Kilkenny!! He now works for Trident Ireland in Waterford and for his sins of late, he is an avid Galway hurling follower. He and Debbie have 3 kids, Áine (10), Clodagh (8) and Orla (5).
Also, check out Deborah’s labelling business at mystuff.ie, which has been a great supporter of Tour de Kilkenny since its incarnation!!
When did you start cycling?
Bought the bike in early 2008 after returning from Australia. Had been a runner and soccer player over there but the knees were screaming ‘no more’!
Who do you admire in the club?
The ‘core’ of about 10 members who I join most Saturday or Sunday mornings for the weekend spins. There is great camaraderie and nobody has to worry about getting dropped. I would encourage more members to come along.
What was your toughest challenge to date?
Getting up Mahon Falls on this year’s Sean Kelly Tour. I hadn’t done enough miles in the lead up and nearly died in the headwind on the last km. I’m going to be fitter next year!
What has been your most satisfying cycling achievement?
I’d still see myself as a beginner and I don’t think I’ve achieved anything yet. My bike is a LeMond Tourmalet so maybe after I’ve climbed a mountain like the Tourmalet or the Alpe d’Huez, I’ll answer the question!
Although you were instrumental in getting Tour de Kilkenny off the ground in 2009 and likewise in 2010, you really stepped up to the plate when you were the boss man for the 2011 event. How have you found organising an event?
To be honest it was much easier than I thought. First of all the heavy lifting had been done in the first 2 years by Patrick Tobin so most of the structure was in place. Secondly the volunteer effort was massive and it was just a case of matching jobs to people. Thirdly the Committee and Members all put their shoulders to the wheel and the result was a fabulous event that is now regarded as one of the best sportives in the country.
Do you remember your first racer?
When I started University I bought a £100 Viking from Joe Daly, Dundrum, the guy who made his name as Stephen Roche’s local bike shop. That’s all my Viking had in common with racing! After 3 years of it being my reliable mode of transport for both college and nightlife (with no lights!), I sold it in good faith to a friend of a friend who brought it to France on his holidays where the front forks snapped descending a hill. He hasn’t spoken to me since.
Do you prefer Shimano or Campag?
Got Shimano 105 on my LeMond but don’t have a preference.
Favourite cycling route?
If I go out on my own from home; Thomastown, Inistioge, Woodstock, Listerlin, Mullinavat and back home thru Ballyhale and Thomastown - lots of climbing and a flat run home.
Favourite cycling event (other than a MCC one!)?
The Copper Coast Sportif and the Tour de Burren were both fantastic this year –finished both in a very fast bunch.
Who do you admire in cycling?
Just recently read the late Laurent Fignons autobiography and his tactical mind and ability to read a race as it evolved was legendary. He will be remembered for losing a Tour de France by 8 seconds but he won 2 others including one on his Tour debut.
Who do you admire in other sports?
Sporting occasion you would most like to attend?
Been to a Brazilian soccer match once and would love to go again. It was just a midweek league game but the noise, the passion and the beat of the samba drums made for the most awesome sporting event.
Who do you admire outside sports?
I have great admiration for anybody who volunteers their time and skills to help others.
Interests outside sports?
Reading, food, wine and spending time with Deborah and the children.
Favourite TV programmes?
Top Gear. Grand Designs. Dragons Den.
Who Dares Runs by Mark Daly, his account of running 32 marathons in 32 days.
U2, Dire Straits, Snow Patrol, Coldplay,
Favourite holiday (destination)?
Port Douglas, Australia
Favourite restaurant in Kilkenny?
What object can you not live without?
Ideal celebrity date?
What would you do for relaxation?
What would you do if you win the lotto?
Give up work, cycle 3 days a week, play golf 3 days a week and have 3 ski holidays a year.