MY BARCELONA DREAM
by Michael Feeney of Ireland
Barcelona beach just up from where the International birds are liberated. Photo by Madeleine Stansfield.
Barcelona and what it ultimately means is a long story for most. Because of my age, 37, it is not that long for me. I grew up around pigeons and am the only 1 of 5 siblings with an interest in our feathered athletes. I say athletes because that is exactly what they are; to describe them as any other is foolhardy considering the feats they accomplish.
When I bought my own house 7 years ago I set about trying to compete in sprint racing. Having grown up with pigeons I knew how to condition and look after them in the right fashion but to compete in sprint racing I had no real clue. I grew up with my dad in pigeons and his aim has always been racing from the U.K. and France to Ireland with no real aim at sprint racing. He really only viewed this as training and experience, especially for young bird racing.
So with house bought and loft up, birds in and my first 7 youngsters flying out a start was made for the second race of the programme in the year 2007. The birds were well fed and well-schooled and in my first solo race as an independent I achieved my first and only position to date that was 7th in the club race. What a buzz.
Time moves on a couple of years and a change in club to a more local club to my home and competition continues with disastrous results. A great team of yearlings trained well, exercising well around home following a specific regime of 1 ½oz food each a day. I thought wow these birds are in great nick . Disaster . I sent 20 cocks to the first race of 80 miles and lost 15. I was devastated. If only one or 2 birds were lost I would say it was the birds but with this many lost I had to take responsibility for my first real difficult lesson. Yes the birds were flying well and looking great but in hindsight, for the work and exercise I had them doing they were simply not fed enough. Revert at this point to what I knew in feeding and caring for our athletes and not following a system. Fuel for the work they are doing and access to the sky for free ranging.
Again another couple of years and a change in personal circumstance leading to a reduction of birds and a cease in racing, which is where I am today. With most of the birds gone last year in the middle of June and just 6 left in the loft I did a lot of thinking on what I would like to do and how my pigeon story should continue.
I have always thought I would like to go into international to Ireland with the ultimate in mind, clocking into Ireland from the Barcelona International in race time. A paltry 855 miles to Dublin. This has been done I believe many years ago but I am not sure if it was in race time or not. So with the ultimate in mind, the birds for the job in hand were needed. So out with the last few sprinters and a new search is on. What birds to get and where to source from? And so the Barcelona Dream came forward a few years with other racing forgotten about and one destination in mind.
I started my search with the international result from the Pipa website as well as researching general distances flown for individuals using key words and details in my search on the internet. Things like “Barcelona International flyers over 700 miles”. Lots of results came up but most were in mainland Europe. I decided birds of a family already successful into the U.K. would be better to start with though. These families would have been selected for their ability to be individuals breaking from the drag and also with the experience of crossing the channel from Europe to the U.K.
Several things came up a number of times. Two of these were Jan Aarden pigeons or families with this base and the name of Jim Emerton. I started looking at the House of Aarden and their families of birds all with Aarden base and I contacted Steve Wright. What a gent. After discussion I selected birds from the line of Padfields Invincible and in due course these birds arrived in Ireland and are with me now. These have started me on the road to Barcelona.
The second thing to crop up from my search was Jim Emerton. I can now say that he is a friend of mine and will be a mentor for as long as he is here on our green planet (hope that’s accurate Jim). His name came up as having the longest flying bird yet clocked in the BICC Barcelona International. So with this in mind and his name and information about his racing and feeding system online for any to Google I set about trying to get in contact. Several phone calls later and no joy, I found him and made contact through another avenue.
Through Jim my network of Barcelona colleagues and nut cases is growing and so is my stock loft. I have generously been given birds from both Nic Harvey of Taunton and Chris Booth of York to add to my Padfields Invincible birds. This is now the base for me and my friends’ future dreams of conquering Barcelona to Ireland.
Before I finish this article I would like to add that I am not doing this alone in Ireland. I am aware that the BICC has over 30 members in Ireland and that they also have aspirations to compete. For me, all roads will lead not to Rome but to Barcelona. Here in Ireland I have also a few other close friends who I will name in the future as long as I have their permission. I do not believe that we essentially need each other. I do believe however that with the same goals we can bolster each other through the inevitable hard times to come on the long and arduous journey to achieve the ultimate.
Until next time Michael.
Elimar - November 2014