Conor McConvey, right, had a fine 10-year career at home and abroad but took the decision before Christmas to call it a day. He leaves the sport with a stack of memories, but very few regrets.
By Brian Canty
The An Post Rás route was announced yesterday. An Post Chain Reaction are headed to Portugal for a sun-soaked stage race soon.
His good friend Matt Brammeier is in the Middle East getting a few rays with Aqua Blue Sport but Connor McConvey has no regrets about where he is.
He’s heading east as well today, mind, but instead of bike and wheel bags he’s just got a backpack in tow as he plots his way around Asia on a four-week holiday.
Having stepped away from full-time cycling before Christmas – and this time it’s for good – he’s looking forward to the next chapters in his life, though not knowing exactly where he’ll go.
“I purposely just gave myself a few months off,” McConvey said.
“I’d a few options straight out the bat after stopping cycling but I’ve been in a career for 10 years and even how great it was you still need to bookend it and finish it and force yourself to take a couple months off.
“I just need time to think about whatever it is I decide I actually want.
“That’s the key for me. You follow your passion for over 10 years and I don’t want to go into a job or a career I’m not happy with. I don’t want to make any rash decisions or mistakes.”
McConvey will turn 29 in July and while many will feel he still has plenty to offer, the man himself is clear in his own mind that he has gone on for long enough and it is now time to pursue other interests.
Stepping away from full-time cycling is often difficult for athletes of all disciplines and the pitfalls are many.
There’s a huge void for McConvey now but he’s not finding the transition difficult or said void intimidating.
“No, not at all actually. I thought seeing races or the Aqua Blue Sport training camp or seeing guys go back racing, I thought I might miss it but there’s no jealousy at all.
“I haven’t even looked at it, I know it’s on because it’s that time of year but…
“Family were saying ‘would you not do the Rás for Phoenix CC’. And it’s a real romantic idea.
“But I know what it takes to be competitive there and that’s why I’ve no desire to follow through on it.
“I realise as well that I enjoy exercise and keeping fit and going out with my mates two to three times a week on a club spin, just because it makes me feel fit but I have no desire to be at an athletic peak.”
“I learnt a lot about sacrifice and more lately, how to get the balance of being able to enjoy yourself and make what you do your passion and how to take knocks and move on.”
He’d still win at home if he wasn’t at his peak, but that’s not part of whatever immediate plans he has.
“No, definitely not. At the minute I’ve no desire. It’s not that I’m particularly sick of it or anything but it just won’t bring me any happiness.
“I’ve been following that cycling dream and that’s been my life for a lot of years.
And I’ve no real desire at the minute, maybe a bit of competitiveness might creep in down the line for a blast or a laugh.
“I’ll have no problems doing that but it’ll all just be for a bit of craic.
“If you ask me what I’ve done since I took the decision to stop I would say not a whole lot but that was the plan, to have those few months off.
“I’ll start making a few decisions in March.”
McConvey had a couple of stints in the green of the An Post team, the most recent of which was 2016 where he had a number of eye-catching performances but perhaps not the results to warrant stepping up to pro continental level.
McConvey is excited for what’s ahead and not one bit fearful. That’s despite the fact he never made anything remotely close to serious money from the sport.
There were crashes and moments of self-doubt. There were times he was overlooked for selection for races he should have been in.
But there is no ill feeling whatsoever.
“It’s part of it; you crash, you get injured, you get pissed off, you lack motivation but that’s all part of the game.
“Very few people are on an upward curve all the time.
“In retrospect, 2013 when I was really, really going well if I didn’t break my pelvis there that might have been a real turning point and a pivotal moment.
“Maybe that had the biggest influence or shaped my career the most but at the time I didn’t really care…
“It was crap but you look at some of the problems and injuries and states some guys get themselves into…real serious stuff…I’m happy I had a really good 10 years and a really good career.
“Not many people get the chance to ride a bike and get paid for it.
“I’m still young in the sense I could still have five more years but I’ve had a good decade full-time and it has been a super experience, the travelling the people.
“I learnt a lot about sacrifice and more lately, how to get the balance of being able to enjoy yourself and make what you do your passion and how to take knocks and move on.
“I’m really happy I took the decision to follow that and I’m proud of the things I’ve done.
“I took the decision myself on my own terms. I wasn’t forced into something but the time was right for me to call it a day and that was a nice way to do it.
“It wasn’t injury or not being able to find a job, now was just the right time.
“I want other things in my life for the next few years. The bottom line is I’m excited and looking forward to the next stage.”