Brilliant day yesterday at the Cycle Against Suicide Wexford SpinOff Had loads of chats and the scenery was only made better by the cracking sun#itsoknottofeelok #cycleagainstsuicide
Alastair Humphreys hits the nail on the head of why we've decided to travel by bicycle! Worth a quick read if you think you might like to as well!
As I lay there on the ground, lump on my forearm, staring at the sky all that was going through my head was, what the fuck was I thinking?
I had the great idea when I last hiked Mount Lienster to try and cycle to the top. Sure there is a road the whole way, how hard could it be? I can tell ya now it was hard, very very hard. It's not the first mountain I have cycled over but it was by far the steepest. 3% gradient for the first 12km and 13% for the last 2.7km. Up to this point the steepest long climbs I completed were usually 3% average gradient with the odd steeper climbs. So with the confidence of these climbs behind me I set off from Eniscorthy so I would have a short 20km cycle to warm up before I hit the hills. It was smooth running’s until I turned off in Bunclody to face what I would be attempting to tackle today. It wasn't my first time cycling over Mount Leinster but it was my first time to go right to the top.
The road from Bunclody to the car park on Mount Leinster is absalutly spectacular. It has everything I love, big mountain on one side, amazing view way off over the land on the other and smack bang in the middle a narrow old country road. Perfect! The lack of any ditch or barrier on any side of the road adds to the beauty and the trill when you are descending. The climb starts to teeter out once you emerge from the forestry. From then on you can relax a little and take in the views better as you cruise to the car park near the top.
My climb was rewarded the cutest Bereneese Mountain Dog puppy at the car park. I have a slight obsession with the Bereneese as I'm the very proud owner of the laziest, fluffiest and greatest Bereneese of all time. Brandy is his name and being cute is his game. But I will tell you more about him at another time as his birthday is coming up soon so I'm sure the odd photo will appear on the blog.
As the gate at the bottom of the climb to the mast at the top of the mountain is closed you have to begin from a standing stop. This is really the least of your worries. The road from the minute you pass by the gate goes from the moderate 3% climb to the absurd 13% which you must endure for the next 2.7km.
I began the climb with great optimism, slowly dropping my gears to the lowest setting as I settled in to a nice rhythm. My confidence grew as I made my way by a very cheerful father with his two young kids. This confidence lasted for about another 5 minutes. I decided to pull over on a very brief ease on the hill to take a breather and a photo. Happy and a little refreshed I set off again. Smack! Fuck was the first word that came to mind quickly followed by a loud moan of despair. I took off with a good hard push on the peddle but I was unable to get my second foot clipped in in time. The next few seconds involved me collapsing onto the road, walloping my forearm really hard on the ground and laughing. I lay there for a little bit until the father and children I passed earlier caught up to me. I hobbled up, a little shuck and embarrassed but eager to continue. I had to ask father to give me a push until I was able to get both my feet clipped in. Click! Click! Thank god, I thought as I went off in a very unblaze of glory. The next 15-20 minutes was nothing less than torture. Complete and utter torture. I had to make one more stop along the way but thankfully there was no falling involved in the take-off afterwards. It wasn't until the last half kilometre that I was able to see my girlfriend and her dog at the top waiting for me. It gave me that extra boost like the one you always see those idiots get in a really cheesy film when the finish line is in sight. When I reached the top I collapsed against the metal fence that surrounded the mast and thanked god it was over.
I have never understood when people would do something and at the end say "I am never doing that again". I understand now.
Right I could blab on and on about how amazing the Ring of Kerry is and how the beautiful scenery made me contemplate on life's great matters, but as much as I love all of the amazing 180km of the Ring of Kerry there really is only 7km that I really look forward to each year. That is the infamous Molls Gap. As climbs go in cycling its isn't one of the toughest, as it is only a category 3. But throw it in at the 160km point of a 180km cycle and it’s a whole other story. Why the obsession with this one small stretch of the cycle you ask? Well last year was my first time doing the Ring of Kerry and I was absolutely left for dead by my dad on Molls Gap. So I swore that this year I was not going to let the same thing happen again. I was mentally and physically prepared and with the Fitzgerald's stubbornness surging through me I set off at the bottom of the climb determined not to lose again.
As you can probably tell from the fact that I'm going into so much detail that I did bet my dad but that’s not going to stop me talking about it. It's the competitive side of me what can I say.
We stayed together for the first kilometre before I decided to try the same trick my dad pulled on me the previous year by taking off in a short burst of speed for a few hundred metres. I took a quick glance to see if my dad had followed. I could see him just a few meters behind with the head down, so before he looked up I took off again trying to put enough distance between us to make a counter attack pointless at such an early stage in the climb. I was about 100m ahead before I slowed back down to our original comfortable climbing pace for the next few kilometres. As I rounded each hairpin, and believe me there are many, I kept thinking that I was going to be caught by my dad but thankfully after one last stitch effort to put some more distance between us I reached the top with a great sigh of relief. I'm an awful to be bosting bout this but it's the little things really.
The last 20km of the cycle after that was a breeze and as we crossed the line I glanced at my speedo on the handlebars and was gobsmacked to see that we had beaten last years’ time by an hour. Well proud so we were. And what did we do to celebrate but have an old pint in the pub while discussing when we will be doing it again.
Did the title grab ya did it? Good, plan acomplished! I can let you know now that there was no dragon slaying involved in this post so if thats what you were looking for you will be bitterly disapointed I'm afraid. It also has nothing with wanking. It is however about the Dragon Sportive cycle my dad and I did last week.
It's a new enough sportive as this was only the second year it was held. That hasn't however stoped it from already building quite the reputation for being a tuffy. There are two routes, a 80km and a 130km. Both of which begin in Enniscorthy and loop round Mount Leinster. We opted for the 80km route as we were using it as a warm up for the Ring of Kerry the following week.
The first 30km of the cycle are a breeze as it runs along one of the main roads to New Ross. It's not until the road turns off and heads for the mountains that things begin to go, well up. On both stages you pass over Mount Leinster before returning back to Enniscorthy. For the size of the cycle it is definitely one of the harder ones on my cycling calender but is also one of the ones that I look most forward to.
ar an rothar
endurance cyclist, adventurer and usually hungry