“We can be Heroes”…just for one day.
Unsung Hero Cycle….Remembering Emily
Route – Ballyseeedy-Tralee-Camp-Annascaul-Inch-Castlemaine-Tralee-Ballyseedy
Cost – A simple donation
Finally the sun shone for the day and it actually felt like Spring. A day packed full of sunshine is always an added bonus towards any cycling event and should just about guarantee a few extra bicycles on the road.
The start point was first class. Not too far outside Tralee, with adequate parking facilities, a great shop and cafe and a generally nice place to relax before and after the cycle.
For me the stroke of genius with this event was the donation side. Potentially many sportives are pricing themselves out of an excessive market, were cycling events have been coming thick and fast and that’s just locally. Between clubs, schools, GAA and charity events locally and nationally, should a cyclist have a thirst to do these events on a regular basis from March to September he or she could be looking at spending anywhere between €700 to well over €1000 on entrance fees alone, which is pretty much the cost of an entry-level bicycle! Prehaps the organisers of Unsung Hero Cycle have found the solution?
Certainly there was a great appetite for this event as what appeared to be in excess of 200 participants took to the road. The route snaked through the centre of Tralee before following alongside the canal, past the windmill at Blennerville and onto the Wild Atlantic Way, (N86) towards Camp. As ever for these type of events, it’s always a nice touch to see families and passers-by stopping to give the peloton an uplifting cheer and a friendly wave.
After taking a left turn up at Camp and up towards Glean-na-Gaelt the organisers offered the first decision of the day, a left turn towards Caherconree and the staircase like Bóthar na gCloch section of road. Although its short it will live long in the memory of anyone attempting to conquer it. I didn’t actually see anyone heading up that way as we passed through Upper Camp and to the summit of Glean-na-Gaelt and it fabulous panoramic views of Tralee Bay, Mount Brandon and the Maherees.
From here on it was full speed to Annascaul, cascading down the well-earned descents and enjoying the rugged mountain valley to our left and the grassy hills of sheep and lambs within close proximity to us. The final section of road into Annascaul is quite new and excellent, so we wasted no time in arriving at the South Pole Inn for an effective and varied nourishment stop.
After a great feed in Annascaul we took off towards Inch following the Wild Atlantic which despite the odd gusts of winds, resembled a mill-pond. On entering Inch we were greeted by some photographers and a drone zipping above our heads. We made fairly good time on the cascading R651 through Keel and Boolteens. Our now group of 3 decided on a scenic route, going left in Boolteens and cutting out Castlemaine. This section of road brings you about one-third of the way to the summit of the Short Mountain, another alternative put in by the organisers. Although just 2 km from the summit it’s an arduous 2 km’s and we opted for the 5 km climb out of Castlemaine. Hats off though to the 4 cyclists we saw making their way up the Short Mountain climb.
Finally we went for the cheats option at the summit of the climb at Garraun! Cycling down the hill to Farmers Bridge, past Ballyseedy Castle and straight back to the finish, cutting a few kilometers off the final distance. The advantage of this was an adrenaline jingling descent and car free roads to the finish.
At the finish we were rewarded with a delicious burger and salad from the hosts, more sunshine and a bit of entertainment.
Hats off to the “Unsung Hero” gang for putting on a great event and best wishes for the big one that comes later in the year.