The Sligo Spring Classic 120km at 9am and 60km at 10am cycles promise to be the main cycling attraction for leisure cycling enthusiasts this year. Promoted by the biggest Leisure Cycling Club in Connacht – Innisfree Wheelers and taking place on Sunday the 30th of April. Starting and finishing in the heart of Sligo town at the Mercy Convent, Pearse Road, Sligo. It promises once again to be a massive attraction, as it is being staged on the most scenic route taking in Counties, Sligo, Roscommon, Cavan and Leitrim.
Cyclists can choose on the day from two routes: The 120km starting at 9am and 60km starting at 10am taking in the breath-taking scenery of Knocknarea, and Arigna mountains, the historical towns of Ballyfarnon and Keadue, before circumventing the lovely Lough Allen. Entry fee (online only) is €35 for Cycling Ireland members and €55 for non-members. Entry links on our Facebook page and our web page www.innisfreewheelers.com.
The 120km event will suit the more experienced leisure cyclists. The course is designed to be suitable for good steady leisure riding, as there are no massive climbs on any part of this scenic course. An added challenge this year in both the 120km and 60km is The Pam Benson Memorial climb at Shriff, near the scenic village of Dromahair. Pam was a founder member of Innisfree Wheelers and passed away last October following an accident. She was an ardent cyclist and relished any climbing challenge.
The start from the Mercy College (just off Pearse Road), will be controlled by a lead car as far as the Carraroe roundabout in both events. From there the cyclists can take a view of the iconic Knocknarea Mountain on their right side as they peddle the undulating route out into the beautiful village of Ballygawley.
On the 120km route, they continue straight through Ballygawley and then pass through the villages of Sooey, Gleann, Geevagh and Ballyfarnon before arriving in one of Ireland’s tidiest towns – Keadue. Frome here, on to Drumshanbo and around beautiful Lough Allen to Dowra for a welcome food stop at exactly the halfway point. From Dowra the cyclists have a slight climb back over about 10km to Drumkeerin. From Drumkeerin they will go in the direction of Manorhamilton. They will pass through the peaceful village of Kilargue, nestling under the shadow of the nearby Mountains. After another few kilometres they will again turn left. This will take them into the beautiful village of Dromahair via Kilcoosey
Both groups will then encounter the first and only climb of the day, which is Pam’s challenge via Shriff towards the old Manorhamilton road. This drag is about five kilometres long and seldom exceeds a 4% gradient. However, when they hit the top road, it is downhill all the way back to Sligo Town.
The 60km event is suitable for even the most novice of cyclists. Apart from the Shriff drag, it does not contain any serious climbs. It can be tackled and enjoyed at a very leisurely pace. The 60km riders will also follow the route out past Ballygawley and continue to the Coola junction where they turn left in the direction of Ballintogher.
They will stop in The Community Centre in Ballintogher for some refreshments, before carrying on in the direction of Killinummery and towards the Drumkeerin junction. They will turn left and be homeward bound and arrive in Dromahair. Here the 60km riders join the 120km course and tackle the long but gentle 5km climb up Shriff to take them on to the old Manorhamilton road.
When the riders return to Sligo, they will finish at The Mercy College Gym. Here they will have access to toilet and changing facilities. They will also be treated to a hot meal with a choice of three dishes and a dessert thrown in.