From road to runway: Aaron Buggle
The former professional cyclist is carving out a new career as a model
He gets knocked down, he gets up again? That could be the signature tune for former professional cyclist Aaron Buggle, the 22-year-old from Enfield, Co Meath, who is now making a name for himself as a model.
Buggle was once tipped for great things in professional cycling. A previous Irish National Under-23 Time Trial champion, he has represented his country on numerous occasions at international level, and was trained/mentored from his teens by his uncle, professional cyclist Paul Healion, who was killed in a car crash in August, 2009.“When that happened,” recalls Buggle, “I knew I’d have to take cycling very seriously or else throw the bike in the shed.”
In 2010, Buggle won the National Championships, and then left Ireland for France. He based himself in Bordeaux, where he spent two years with small club teams, after which, in 2012, he signed a professional contract with prestigious pro cycling team Rapha Condor JLT
“That was massive for me – after all the effort it was like someone saying that all the training, the sacrifices, were worth it; that I was actually getting somewhere. I was over the moon when I got it. I put my head in a box and trained like a lunatic for six months.”
In January of this year, Buggle headed to Melbourne to meet his teammates for a six-week training schedule involving various races, one of which was the Herald-Sun Tour.
Thinking about it, Buggle’s generally sunny disposition shades somewhat. “I was in a lineout behind a load of guys; everyone moved out of the way, but I had no time to react, and I hit a stack of bricks on the road.”
Injuries suffered included a broken elbow and mild concussion. Buggle admits to recovering from the physical damage relatively quickly – “but the psychological side of it affected me more than I let on. Every subsequent race I went into, I wasn’t thinking about the outcome, but rather about not crashing and falling off.”
At this year’s Rás, in May, he hit a traffic island (“I rode the final stretch, and I can honestly say I don’t remember riding one kilometre never mind 50”), and during the summer, in the National Championships, his saddle fell off.
Shortly after, during a race in Manchester, sprinting out of a bend, a peddle came off. “I went through a set of barriers,” Buggle says “and hit my head really hard. I distinctly remember the primary emotion I had when I was lying on the ground – I’ve had enough of this.”Within the past few months, Buggle’s rise in the ranks of the Irish model industry has been far less accident-prone. He says it all happened quickly and effortlessly. Being a lover of clothes helped, but being able to look like he’d been modelling for most of his adult life clinched the deal.
Now signed up to Dublin-based Fraser Models & Actors Agency (frasermodelsandactors.ie), the clicking of photo shoots and cast auditions have replaced the spinning of his previous life.
“Cycling is such a lonely sport,” he says, “but when I was in it, I loved being a hermit, head down, in the bubble. Whenever I heard people talk about how strange I was, training on my own, talking to no one, I loved it. The enjoyment of modelling, and looking at areas of media that I’m into, however, is just terrific. Coming from a sport where you’re locked away – and as a professional cyclist you are – that’s a huge change.”
It’s still early days, as Buggle readily admits, but he doesn’t seem the sort to lose focus. If he can channel the level of effort, dynamism and energy that he put into cycling into a modelling/acting/television career, then a bright future is surely his.
“Cycling is knocked on the head, competitively at least,” he says with an air of finality. “I still love it, but something about the competitive nature of the sport has been knocked out of me.
“Going into modelling was a decision I’d always wanted to make, but the accidents forced me to make it earlier.”