Donegal Bay Cycling Club have been holding this great sportive now for the past five years or so. Some Wheelers have made the trip since the inaugural event and have been raving about it in terms of the roads, scenery, climbs, organization and food to name just a few points.
This year saw the biggest gathering of Innisfree Wheelers with the following riders taking to the hills of Donegal; Anne Osborne, Carmel Scott, Caroline Brennan, Susan McGowan, Dave Flynn, Paul Flynn, Alo Farragher, Brendan Mullen, James Waters, Kevin McMorrow, Damien Willis, Gerry Keegan, Joe Dolan, Hugh Bennett, and Gary McGinty.
The day started with a slight drizzle accompanying the riders as they headed out the Killybegs road from Donegal Town just after 10am. All three events started together (50km, 100km and 140km), with rather cleverly different coloured road signs to indicate turn-off points for the various distances as we approached Killybegs and beyond.
Luckily for the 50km riders there was a sign pointing them for home before the dreaded hills were encountered out around Carrick and Glencolmkille. There was no such respite however for the 100km or 140km riders as they negotiated Glengesh and an assortment of other climbs too numerous to mention and too painful to recall!
The food stop was located in some Irish named townland somewhere the far side of Ardaragh and at about the 80km mark. There was luckily an ample supply of tea, coffee, cold drinks, minerals, sandwiches, cakes, bars and associated goodies on offer here, because for the 140km riders their real climbing was now just about to begin.
The climb out of Ardaragh was probably one of the worst because it included a particularly nasty headwind for the riders as the struggled through the wild but beautiful Donegal heartland. The final sting in the tail came for the 140km riders when with not only Donegal town in sight but also our beloved Benbulben in the background, the jaded cyclists were directed back up the Bluestack mountains on what was a challenging climb to put it mildly.
The riders were then happily descending from this when there was another nasty surprise in store – The Lough Eske Scenic Drive!
However, this put an end to the suffering and thankfully all Wheelers returned unscathed to finish the event at the Abbey Vocational School in Donegal Town where they were treated to a very welcome and substantial hot meal.
This was another great sportive and many kudos to the lads and lassies of Donegal Bay Cycling Club and their helpers for once again providing us with a great sportive in the scenic hills of Donegal.