The cycling sportive season is well and truly under way. Compared to when I first got into to club cycling about 6 years ago, there is certainly a great variety, with a sportive or “charity” cycle on offer nearly every weekend from now until October.
Back in the day it was more or less expected that a cycling club did their yearly sportive, throw in the Ring of Kerry for the charity side of things and that was it.
So times have changed with lots of organisations getting in on the act. But is more really better?
From my own personal point of view, I’ve found myself going to less and less organised events.
In an event I’m looking for:
- Value for money
- Something a bit different
- Not too far from home
- Good organisation
With that in mind we made the 40 minute drive from Tralee to Rathmore for the Sliabh Luachra Tour. The club run this event as a memorial to Paud O’Leary and Willie Reen.
On entering Rathmore the start was easy to find with signage and stewards aplenty. The parking was well organised in a local GAA field with a short walk to the signing on building. The building was modern with plenty of desks at the signing on area. These where clearly marked for each event. The price for Cycling Ireland members was €20. Upstairs was an area with complementary drinks and snacks as well as adequate toilet facilities.
There was little waiting around at the start as the 110 km riders headed off just after 9 am. These where quickly followed by the 85 km and then the 55 km riders.
We headed through Rathmore and out towards Millstreet in County Cork. From the off the stewarding was plentiful and well organised. One problem many events have with stewarding is that they are plentiful for the first half but tend to be a bit sparse to none existent towards the end. With Sliabh Luachra it was consistently good from start to finish!
The part of the route I was looking forward to were the roads in Cork, simply because I’ve never cycled these roads before. The first test was a 10 km pull away from Millstreet and up Cloghboola Beg towards the Millstreet Country Park. This was a nice steady climb with lovely views followed by a never-ending descent which levelled out at Rathcool. I have to say the Boherbue to Ballydesmond stretch couldn’t end soon enough as tiredness was kicking in. The break was really appreciated.
The main break in Ballydesmond was in what looked like a community centre adjacent to the local GAA field. The food was served in a large hall, with good toilet facilities and plenty of chairs and tables. The food was nothing fancy apart from the Sliabh Luachra rocky road which was scrummy and there was plenty of everything. Most cyclists just want something quick and easy to eat, so the food spread was perfect.
On leaving Ballydesmond we moved back into Kerry and headed towards Scartaglen on the main R 577 road. Once we reached Scart we took a lovely road to the left, which takes you along the small river valley of the Brown Flesk.
Now in familiar territory, we moved into very unfamiliar territory on a wonderful stretch of road which climbed for about 5 km. The toil was well worth it as we got some wonderful views of the Killarney Lakes and The Reeks. The Bawnaglanna part of the area offered a wonderful horseshoe switch back, quite out of character for the area. This is definitely a part of Kerry the locals keep tight-lipped about. For good reason!
Once we got onto the L 3009 we faced a steep hill at Knockauncore. After passing the welcome roadside pit stop one of our gang snapped her chain on the hill. Giving up wasn’t an option! We had the tools to do the job, but tried the mechanics number. He was out to us within 3 minutes and had the chain fixed in a similar time. Great service!
Patched up we had just 20 km to go which took us through Gneeveguilla and back to Rathmore.
At the finish waiting for us was plenty of food and drink, smiling faces and a pat on the back.
On reflection this was a super day out. Prehaps the roads wouldn’t suit everyone, but I loved them. Quiet, hilly, bendy and rough round the edges.
The organisation and back up was second to none. Nothing was in your face, but there was always someone ready to assist when asked.
So well done Sliabh Luachra CC on a day that offered great value for money, wonderful hospitality, smashing cycling routes and good food!