Palisadian Bikes the Five Boroughs of N.Y.

By Laurel Busby
Staff Writer

When the oldest Kelly brother, Sean, celebrated his 50th birthday, he chose to create a “Year of Sean” spiked with adventure.

He invited friends and family, including his two younger brothers, Niall and Ciaran, on varied exploits, ranging from golf trips in both Monterey and Wisconsin to a half-marathon atop the Great Wall of China. As part of the “Year of Sean,” his family also orchestrated a surprise party in Los Angeles for the Seattle resident.

“I’ve always enjoyed my birthday,” Sean, 52, said. “While many don’t care for the fanfare or attention, I’m a firm believer in embracing your special day.”

The three Kelly brothers, who grew up in Pacific Palisades, raised money for Cancer Cure by biking through the five boroughs of New York City.

The three Kelly brothers, who grew up in Pacific Palisades, raised money for Cancer Cure by biking through the five boroughs of New York City.

His younger brothers have also embraced the idea. Since middle brother Niall turns 50 this year, it has now become the “Year of Niall.” The first event was a motorcycle ride through Death Valley, and then in May, Niall, an accomplished bicyclist, invited family and friends to join him on a bike ride through the five boroughs of New York.

Both Sean and Ciaran accepted Niall’s challenge, which turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated. The terrain through New York City itself is fairly mellow, especially compared with the Santa Monica Mountains, where West L.A. resident Ciaran sometimes trained. However, the weather was the opposite of mellow. The 32,000 riders encountered temperatures ranging from 45 to 50 degrees and a near-constant cold rain.

“Normally 40 miles would be a moderate cycling event, but with the wind and rain it was really a much bigger endeavor to just get through,” said Niall, who also plans a luau, a boating regatta to Catalina Island and a 100-mile bike ride in Napa Valley to celebrate his year.

His brothers agreed. “On a sunny day, it’s probably a phenomenal way to see New York,” said Ciaran, adding that a week before the ride, the weather forecast had been 70 degrees with clear skies. However, on May 1, “we were all soaked. Our feet and hands were probably the worst. You couldn’t feel your feet at some points.”

The three brothers, who grew up in Pacific Palisades and attended Corpus Christi School, plus two friends rode through the rain, which fell for 38 of the ride’s 40 miles. The last half was particularly onerous with heavy rain and wind.“We saw a lot of people call it quits and understandably so,” Ciaran said.

The entire ride took about five hours and did have some fun highlights. The Kellys, whose parents are Ned and Palisades News office manager Rosemary, had spent part of their childhood in New York, where they lived from 1971-77, and so it was fun to revisit places like FDR Drive on the ride, Ciaran said.

About 15 different bands entertained the riders, including a “jamming ska band” around the 26th mile. “They lifted a lot of spirits” during one of the worst periods of rain, Ciaran said. He noted that despite the rain, church groups, cheerleaders and school groups banded together to cheer the riders along the way.

(Left to right) Sean, Niall and Ciaran Kelly challenge each other to celebrate a 50th birthday in unusual ways.

(Left to right) Sean, Niall and Ciaran Kelly challenge each other to celebrate a 50th birthday in unusual ways.

The Kelly group, which raised $1,550 for Cancer Care through Ciaran’s fundraising, all completed the ride. “That felt great—a nice sense of accomplishment,” Ciaran said. “We were all very happy and proud to finish it.”

Niall said, “It was really great to have my brothers participate in a road cycling event as that was never a sport or hobby they were interested in like I was as a kid growing up.”

All three brothers, who graduated from Loyola High School, are married with two children. Sean, who works for a freight forwarder in Seattle, and his wife, Helen, have a son, Liam, 13, and daughter, Caroline, 6. Niall, who sells consumer packaging for the farming industry, and his wife, Jen, have two sons, Declan, 19, and Karl, 17, while Ciaran, a Wells Fargo private mortgage banker, and his wife, Pam, have a daughter, Maddie, 10, and a son, Morgan, 8.

Although the “Year of Niall” is still going strong, Ciaran, 45, is also anticipating the “Year of Ciaran” down the road. He antici- pates planning a bike ride from Rosarita to Ensenada, Mexico. He has twice attempted this “brutal ride,” but not yet completed it, in large part due to bike problems. In addition, during his 50th year, he wants to travel to England to see the Arsenal soccer team play in person.

“I’ve got four years to think about it,” Ciaran said, also adding that he’s glad his brother Sean started this tradition. “It puts a lot of pressure on the rest of us, but yeah, we’re enjoying it.”

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