How one rider stuck with a very big New Year’s resolution

Posted on: December 31st, 2016

Jordanne Boal and her partner, former An Post-Chainreaction rider Sean Downey, on the road and working towards a huge goal.

Having been around bike races for many years because her partner Sean Downey was an Irish international and An Post-Chainreaction rider, Jordanne Boal decided to take on a challenge of her own in 2016.

Exactly 12 months ago she decided to train towards completing the 175km Mourne Route at the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland, despite having ever gone on the occasional 30 mile spin.

There were challenges along the way, a melt down and a step back. But she stuck with it and come the big day in early June she got stuck in and completed her challenge.

In this piece, which we hope will aspire those looking for a cycling challenge in the 2017, she tells us how she did it. And, most importantly, she writes of her delight at having nailed her big goal.

By Jordanne Boal

I was always on the other side of the fence supporting Sean in his cycling career. So when I told him I had decided to ride the Gran Fondo in 2016, the shock on his face said it all!

I’d only ever gone on recovery rides with Sean, or on a coffee stop ride up to a maximum of 30 miles.

So riding the Mourne Route at the Gran Fondo, which was 175km, was going to be a huge jump.

But I had a bit of time on my side as I decided at the start of January it was going to be my 2016 challenge. And I also had Sean to advise and encourage me.



I only got out on the road once during the month of January. I was a 40 mile ride with Sean and it was the first time I’d ever eaten anything on a bike, which was not great!

I had to stop which frustrated me; but it was something to work on.

The rest of my time was spent in the gym. It did spin classes on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday which lasted an hour.

And I also did a circuit class on Tuesdays and Thursdays; a mix of running, weights and all over strength training.

On Friday mornings I went to boot camp, which was mostly upper body strength with a kettle bell and a little cardio.



On the road I started training in the hills. I tackled the climbs of Dree Hill and Slieve Croob.

I also got better at eating on the bike; something I was going to have to get the hang of to ride a 175km event and also to do the longer training to prepare for it.

I didn’t need to stop to eat and I was drinking more on the spins.

In the gym I cut my spinning class down to once a week, usually on a Monday. And then on a Wednesday I either did a sprint session or a hill session.

I always asked Sean for advice on what was best. I continued with circuits and bootcamp which worked my whole body, and it was also was very sociable.



I got out on the road every week, which was great. I continued to train hard in the hills and managed over 60 miles, covering Rostrevor and Spelga Dam accompanied by Sean which was great fun.

I did, however, not eat enough on a few occasions which made things a lot harder for me. But it’s all a learning curve.

I stopped doing spin altogether as I found that having a structured hill and sprint session more beneficial in the gym.

I don’t mind training on my own; I got my determined head and every week I kept pushing harder and held a tougher resistance for longer.



I took a mini melt down in April. I focused so much on my training and doing hills that I found the road more of a struggle and not enjoyable. I had to take a step back.

So I did shorter rides and Sean came out with me to show me that it’s not all about hills.

Flat roads meant speed, which is important factor too. My gym remained the same.



I managed 80 miles in the first week of May, completing The Coastal which was my longest cycle.

And I rode in a group for the first time, which I found very enjoyable. I was just nervous in case I did something wrong!

Looking back on it now, taking that step back in April gave me a big boost and refreshed me.

May was a great month for me on the road and even better in the gym; I was holding tougher resistance for longer and my speed had increased so much.


June & Gran Fondo Day

Before I knew it, the Gran Fondo had arrived and I felt nervous and excited. I just hoped I could finish it!

It started off fast and before we knew it we were in Dromara and over Dree Hill; there were bikes everywhere and there was me in the middle of it, I got such a buzz.

I managed to get over all the hills no problem; the day flew in with all the different groups and people cheering us on at the side of the road.

The last 25km took its toll on me but I had Sean by my side encouraging me.

And as soon as I saw the sign for 5km to go I somehow found a new lease of energy and crossed the finish line a very happy girl.

Six months of hard training had paid off; I’d completed my challenge of the Gran Fondo.

It was a very proud moment for me crossing the finish line with Sean. I enjoyed my training, it was tough at times but worth every minute.

I never thought I would ever complete anything like that day in June in my life.

But it just shows with six months of hard work and determination and you can accomplish anything.

There were challenges to be faced, but nothing got in my way. You’d never know what’s in store for this year; watch this space!