Less than 2 weeks left before we head for 4 days in the Alps, and there’s no better place for a final long spin than in the Wicklow Mountains. Given that for the past month I haven’t been on the bike a fraction of what I had originally planned due to a bit of illness, I set off with a bit of trepidation for our starting point in Kildare.
The overall route called for approx 125km with just over 1,300m (about half the climbing we’ll have in the Alps, but as good as we can do), and after a delay (due to a flat tyre en route), Richie, Mike & myself set off in good weather, and in good spirits.
The first 35 or so km was lovely and calm, rambling through the Curragh, before a quick stop at Hollywood. Even though the start was mild my heart rate was climbing fast with little effort, a lot of the gains from earlier in the year definitely gone at this stage. And the climb out of Hollywood had me over 170 all the way up!
Before long we were into the base of the Wicklow Gap, and heading east it’s not that bad a climb, although again I was pretty much 34 x 32 all the way up (there was also a headwind, but I was just trying to keep HR down). The guys were well ahead of me when I got there, but given the busloads of tourists, plus the wind at the top we just drove straight into the descent (see YouTube video).
The base of the descent is Glendalough and from there just a flat 1km over to Laragh, where we had our coffee stop. Unfortunately one of the lads had a broken chain just as we started to climb Military Road, so we freewheeled back down to the cafe, in the hopes of finding a good samaritan, and we did! We all had chain-breakers, but no one had a pair of quick-links, but a kind local called Carl cut short his coffee-stop to cycle home and come back with a toolbox later. The enforced break in the sun was good for me, and I was definitely a bit fresher when we started to climb (although again a lot of time in the 32, plus the tailwind helped a lot).
I was delighted when we got to the waterfall, which I had assumed was the top. It turns out there was another 12 km of (in fairness gradual) drag to go! But that whole climb, through the Wicklow Mountains was just stunning. There were so few cars on the road, and it was just perfect for cycling.I’ll definitely push to do that again.
Once we reached the crossroads at the top we were able to begin our descent back. Quite surprisingly we went from 25kmp up to 70+ in a flash, but again, lovely quiet roads, just hitting brakes to avoid the odd sheep. We headed back towards Blessington, basically following the Liffey, and from there the guys then basically went into TTT mode to make up some lost time earlier.
Our 5-hour spin took the bones of 8 hours, and I twinged my knee slightly with one of the efforts on the final run-in, but a cracking day on the bike!