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Welcome to our cycling Blog. Whether you are a cycling enthusiast or complete beginner, looking for ideas for the family or planning trips with friends this blog will aim to provide you with up-to-date, relevant information on cycling in Northern Ireland. CycleNI.com staff will be keeping you in touch with local events and new routes whilst industry experts will be revealing their secrets on everything from bicycle maintenance to hidden gems for cyclists of all abilities to explore.

For your definitive guide to cycling in Northern Ireland visit www.cycleni.com

4 Cool Ways to See Your Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive Route

Posted on March 13, 2019 @ 5:12 PM in Cycling

With 4 different routes to choose from at the 2019 Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive (35 | 60 | 85 | 115 miles), you’re spoilt for choice – and now we’ve got 4 cool ways you can see your route for the 2019 Sportive. Better still, they’re all completely free to use and adaptable for any cycling challenge you’re taking on.

 

  1. VeloViewer – This 3D map shows all of the elevation along the route, helping you plan out your training, so you can see where you need to push that extra bit harder. Check out the map here.

 

 

2. Google Earth – You can now view the new 60-mile Sportive route as a 360° virtual tour, taking in every detail of the most epic parts of the route. It works even better on mobile too – just move your phone around to see the virtual route and the spectacular scenery you’ll experience on the day. Take the tour here.

 

 3. Strava – For those competitive people, we’ve got you covered! The King of the Mountain / Queen of the Mountain segment is available on Strava. This is available for anyone taking part in the 60 / 85 / 115 mile routes. To enter the 2019 KOM / QOM join the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive Club on Strava.

 

  4. Website – On our website you can find all the timings and information about each route, with links to both the route profiles and Garmin to see basic information like the path the routes take.  

www.giantscausewaycoastsportive.com/event-information/route-information/route-1/


 

 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

Catching Up With One of Northern Ireland's Best Coffee Bars for Cyclists: TRAIT Coffee

Posted on March 1, 2019 @ 12:13 PM in Cycling

Mark opened his coffee bar TRAIT Coffee in November 2017 and it has since become a hit with cyclists and walkers alike – it was even named in Cool FM’s Top 11 Coffee Bars in Northern Ireland. We caught up with Mark to have a chat about the first whirlwind year at TRAITCoffee and what his plans are for the future.

 

Hi Mark, congrats on the unbelievable success of TRAIT Coffee and thanks for speaking with us today. You opened the coffee bar in November 2017 – what was the inspiration behind TRAIT Coffee?

For the last 10 years I have craved my own business. To be in charge of my own destiny is the main appeal. Creating a strong brand and a unique space was key, alongside bringing a service that wasn't already available in Comber was vital for growth. Once I had set my heart on opening a speciality coffee shop in my hometown, the journey commenced.

I recall the nights where I doodled lists of potential business names – I would judge how the potential names looked, the meaning and most importantly a name not already in use. My research was extensive but very interesting. I also spent time studying existing coffee shops, staff interaction with customers, interior design, food offerings and social media presence.  I am a big fan of hard work and believe the more you put in the bigger the reward.

 

 

What was the process of opening the coffee bar like (hiring staff, finding the perfect venue, getting the art wall)?

Firstly, I had to identify a premises. A property small in stature but one that would financially allow me to be creative. 33 Castle Street, Comber stood out for many reasons: its proximity to The Comber Greenway and main Belfast to Ards Peninsula cycle route, a huge gable wall to mark its identity, space to the rear for future expansion and lastly my hunch, that it 'felt right’. That word 'hunch’ has been the basis of many of my decisions.

I wanted TRAIT Coffee to be seen as humble and modest from the roadside yet a unique and charming interior space. I designed all the interior space myself and felt I would achieve a greater sense of community spirit from sourcing locally handcrafted furniture and craftspersons. I also believe the design of the wall seating in a U shape is not only quirky but adds further to the feel of a social space. The definition of the word TRAIT is a unique characteristic; hence my gable wall shows a large bespoke thumbprint, as your thumbprint makes you unique. A massive credit to Dean from Visual Waste who helped with brainstorming logo ideas and bringing the thumbprint to life. It certainly was an eventful day on Castle Street when Dean climbed his ladder holding his spray paint. Business neighbours and local residents guessing what the image was going to be.

I work a few shifts in TRAIT as well as working in a full-time job elsewhere. This current arrangement is something I am hoping will change with greater traction and expansion in the future. Overall, I feel with experience I'm getting better on this front.

How has the first year been at TRAIT Coffee?

Our first year in terms of identity and presence was a success. With experience, I am hopeful we can make more friends and push on in terms of expansion. We have also evolved with time and based on the wants of our customers we are now offering freshly prepared toasties on our menu.

The Comber Greenway and Ards Peninsula are very popular with cyclists and walkers – what makes this area such an attractive place for a café like TRAIT Coffee?

I see TRAIT Coffee as a ‘pitstop’ or ‘midpoint’ where you can refuel when exploring the interesting landmarks and breath-taking scenic areas the wonderful Peninsula has to offer.

Credit: Dave Kane

Do you get out on the bike yourself around Northern Ireland?

Occasionally my family and I would cycle the Comber Greenway. My smallest is 4 so the journey is usually stop/start!

What would be the go-to treat for a cyclist at TRAIT Coffee?

Either flapjacks, pear and ginger bread or Thumbprint Cookies.

I’m getting hungry here – is it lunch time yet? Do you find more cycling clubs or individuals coming in?

We’re seeing more groups of cyclists attending since opening, half of which are not affiliated to any clubs but are out for a leisurely cycle. On Sunday past we had Manic Cycling Club from Newtownabbey, and good friends of TRAIT would be James Curry and Matthew Teggart who cycle professionally for Ireland.

What are TRAIT Coffee’s plans for 2019?

My plan for 2019 is to build a cycle shelter to the rear of the shop. This shelter will also house a few quirky bikes available to hire and is somewhere you can have your bicycle maintained whilst visiting TRAIT and nearby shops.

 

Quickfire Round:

What’s the best tasty-treat you’ve made? Banana Bread

Favourite coffee? Cappuccino

Favourite film? The Founder

Favourite outdoor place in Northern Ireland? Delmont Country Park, the views over the Peninsula are incredible.

Thanks for chatting to us Mark!

TRAIT Coffee is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-4pm | Saturday 9am-4pm and Sunday 10am-4pm, and is located at 33 Castle Street, Comber – follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Call in on your next cycle!

 

Dominic Lyttle
Dominic Lyttle  Assistant Marketing Officer

Dominic has recently joined the ORNI team following completion of a MSc in Marketing from Queen’s University Belfast.

In his spare time, Dominic enjoys trekking, travelling to new and exciting places, and playing basketball, alongside drinking far too much coffee!

Meet the Sponsor: Decathlon, Belfast

Posted on December 18, 2018 @ 11:34 AM in CyclingLocal Outdoors

In the first of a series of upcoming interviews with our event sponsors, we sit down with the main event sponsor of the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive – Decathlon Belfast. These interviews are intended to help put a ‘face’ to the often-corporate branding, so that our participants know about the strong connection our sponsors have to cycling and the Sportive World.

For Week 1, we sat down with Lee Aston, Belfast Cycles Department Manager from the store.

 

Hi Lee, thanks for speaking to us! Would you mind telling us a bit about your role at Decathlon?

Hi Ethan. So, my role in Decathlon Belfast is that of the Cycles Department Manager. I've been working in the Belfast store for over 2 years now and have a keen interest in most forms of cycling, mostly road and MTB. My role varies from day to day - one day I could be building the countless number of bikes we get into store on a daily basis (especially now at Christmas time when building and selling never stops) or it could be dealing with customers wanting a cycle scheme which is run through their work place and helping them find the perfect bike. I also help out with the different store events we have and sometimes get to take part in them myself. So yeah, my day to day is never really the same if I'm honest.

Some of Decathlon Belfast's impressive cycling stock

 

Sounds ideal for knowing about all things to do with a Sportive! What impressed yourselves about the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive / prompted you to get involved with it?

What doesn't impress me is the better question! After taking part in the event last year, all be it a bit wet at the start, it was easy to see why it is so popular. The location, the people, how it's set up and the excellent food stops and service stations along the way make it extremely appealing to us as a store. In store we have a large range of road bikes which suit a lot of those who take part in sportives and there is no better way to let people know we have these bikes than sponsor this massive event and spread the brand to all those who take part.

 

Decathlon Belfast are offering an Early Bird Offer – could you tell us a bit about it?

The Early Bird Offer consists of a brake and gear adjustment and a tyre and bolt check. Perfect to get the competitors bikes in tip top shape for whichever of the 4 routes they decide to take on. 

 

What else might people be interested in picking up when they call in store?

Within Decathlon Belfast we have over 70 different sports under one roof, from cycling to hiking to horse riding; we cover all areas. While customers are in buying their cycling essentials for the event like energy gels, co2 canisters and tool kits they may be able to try out a new sport they have never thought about previously. As our moto goes, ‘Decathlon makes sport accessible for the many.’ 

If you're stocking up on your gels, co2 cannisters or multi-tools, Decathlon is the place to go.

 

Have you taken part in the event yourself? If so, what was your favourite part?

Yes I took part in the event last year for the first time. I did the 35mile route and it was outstanding. My favourite part of it was the coast road going towards Bushmills as the views were just excellent (especially once the rain stopped!)

 

One of our photographer's snapped Lee during his route! 

 

Finally, Decathlon Belfast are also providing mechanical support at next year’s event. What does this involve for yourselves?

This will involve myself and the team helping fix punctures, provide gear tune ups and bolt checks along with any other quick fixes we can do there and then to help competitors. We will be on the road in 3 different vehicles along with our support at the event HQ, so nobody has to worry if you get stuck half way round!

 

     

You'll see plenty of Decathlon vans on the day as they respond to any problems riders may have on the course.

 

Thanks for speaking to us Lee! People can find the Decathlon Belfast store on Facebook.

Ethan Loughrey
Ethan Loughrey  Mountain Bike Officer

Hardest thing about Mountain Biking? Definitely the trees.

Castleknock CC's Journey to the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive

Posted on August 20, 2018 @ 4:30 PM in Cycling

We've always been fasincated by all of the small stories that go on in the background in the lead up to the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive. This year we've got an ear to the ground with one cycling club from Dublin. Noelle and Mark will be keeping us up to date on all their preparations from now right the way until the big day on September 8th. Follow along and share your own stories on the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive Facebook page!

Fiona Reidy: Events Officer, Castleknock Cycling Club, Dublin. 17th August

'The Road to Antrim'

From one “Castle” to another “Castle” – Castleknock to Ballycastle. From Castleknock, Caisleán Cnucha, meaning "Cnucha's Castle” to Ballycastle  - Baile an Chaistil, meaning "Town of the Castle".

January is a hibernation month for a lot of people, but not for Castleknock Cycling Club (“CCC”)!  When other people were contemplating joining a gym, to visit only a couple of times, at CCC we were having chats about where to go on our annual club weekend away later in 2018. In fact Paul Mullins, our Committee Secretary jumped right on it and had The Marine Hotel in Ballycastle booked before you could say “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive!"

CCC is just over 3 years old and was formed in April 2015. We currently have 125 club members led by 7 Committee members, including one highly intelligent, witty lady who is the Events Officer ..Moi  :o)

The Main Committee members are:

Liam Twomey                                   Chairperson

Paul Mullins                                       Secretary

Shay Kearns                                       Treasurer

Erick O’Neill                                       Spin Co-ordinator

Tony Nulty                                         Gear Co-ordinator

Fiona Reidy                                        Events Officer

Brian Casey                                       Safety Officer

Andrew Griffith                               Public Relations Officer (“PRO”)

 

Since the main Committee have enough on their saddles! Boom!  We decided that a Sub-Events Committee was needed to help organise the “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive” and other club events during 2018.

So this is when “The Mob” (Sub-Events Committee) was born !

Fiona Reidy – Mob Boss - The Pink Lady  

Brendan O’Brien – Cool Mr B

Jane Bohan – Miss Compliance Lady….also known as Scarlet Overkill :o)

Noelle Rohan – Miss Kerry

 

Mark Ruddy – Mr Ah Sur It’ll Be Grand

Jenny Kirwan - Miss Chatty

Barry Gleeson- Mr Get-Away- Man With a Van

 

The first “Mob” meeting went something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vayksn4Y93A

We were taking no prisoners!  We had lots to do:  names to gather, who is “sleeping with who” (we had to watch how that was written!), money to collect, information leaflets to write, quiz questions to prepare and prizes to gather.

A “WhatsApp” was sent to all CCC members and great interest was shown for the “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive”. Finally we have 50 people travelling from CCC to BallyCastle.

Ethan Loughrey from the “Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive” Organising Committee was our first port of call.  At this stage, I feel like I’ve known Ethan all my life and that’s saying a lot considering I have yet to meet the man! He was a great help in getting everyone registered and supplied with an Early Bird T-Shirt.

Andrew Griffith our PRO modelling the T-Shirt

Lists upon lists were made and MANY reminder “WhatsApps” were sent until in July we had the final list of people making the trip to Ballycastle. Payments were collected, dinner was booked, menus were chosen, room layouts were organised and secure bike storage was arranged with the Marine Hotel. We have now become best friends with the front desk staff in the Marine Hotel. We also booked 4 people into a local B&B; Corratavey Guest House (a short walk from the Marine Hotel).

Over the past few weeks the team have also been great in pulling together an information leaflet for what will be happening during the weekend and on the actual Sportive day itself.

All CCC members will be gathering at the front of the Marine Hotel at 7.30am on the morning of the Sportive for a group photo before heading off on their chosen routes.

It will be a packed weekend of “Selfie” and “Best Song of the Day” competitions, with dinner in the hotel on the Saturday evening followed by a mind blowing quiz with jaw dropping prizes to be won!

The excitement is now building and everyone is looking forward to a great weekend of cycling and fun!

A big thank you goes out to the Sub-Events Committee team for all their help and attendance at meetings to get everything ready for the annual club weekend away.

All that is left to do now is for everyone to enjoy themselves!

To a great weekend at the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive!!!!

 

Noelle: 28th July

So these Saturdays we’re rolling out at 08:00 and it’s a great start to the day to get a good cycle under our belt and be home for around 12 noon. This week we headed towards to the Royal county, first through Blanchardstown and onto Dunshauglin under the great guidance of Jim Healy. We went through Ongar, Clonee, Dunboyne and Batterstown area.

There’s been a change in the weather now which is bringing a bit of rain, badly needed by the farmers but I’ve to say I miss the sunshine.
The rain was on our back about 10km into the cycle and wasn’t leaving us unfortunately on this route. There was 6 in the group,we kept tight and were doing 22-24 km an hour. There’s not much Jim misses fair play from stops, to on coming traffic at roundabouts to fur coats (dead rats) on the road!! There was a good bit of chat on route mainly talking about the change of weather.

Nearing Dunshauglin one of the cyclists was complaining her hip was score so decided to turn back after we had a quick stop in the shop for some sweets. Another person turned back here with her and headed home. The cycle here was cut to around 40km for 2 and the other 4 completed around 65km.

When back in Carpenters town we bailed into Insomnia drenched wet for a hot tea and a scone - well deserved! So 40 or 65km it was great to be out be it in the rain and getting fresh air into the lungs.

 

Mark and Noelle: Saturday 12th May

Welcome back! So what a day we got for the Castleknock Cycling Club 100km to the Hill of Tara, someone knew we meant business. It was glorious. There was staggered departure times so that we would all arrive roughly around the same time to Maguire’s Café for tea and scones at the Hill of Tara (10:50)  – needles to say I was in the elite group! We started at 8:15 – figure out which group I was in!

22km/hr group departure 08:15

24km/hr group departure 08:40

26km/hr group departure 08:50

28km/hr group departure 09:00

So Kathleen took the helm of our group of 10 as the leader, which was great as she runs a steady ship and keep things moving. John who was out for a while with an injury also joined us for some of the cycle, it was great to see him back with us on Saturday.

The route took us through Dunboyne, Summerhill, Dunsany, and Kilmessan and onto the Hill of Tara. The roads were relatively quite most of the way. Spring has finally arrived; the country has gone ‘green’ over night. In Meath I noticed a lot of cattle out grazing, as a farmer’s daughter great to see, the poor animals were in for too long over the winter.

55 cyclists descended on Maguire’s Café around 10:50 and thanks to the great organisation by CCC’s event’s coordinator, Fiona Reidy, we were all fed and watered within 20 minutes. It was really nice for all the different groups to meet here and just relax and have a chat. Andrew drove from Castleknock to take some pics of us and see we all arrived alive! and Jim Healy drove up to give some mechanical support where needed. Prior to departure there was the obligatory photo shoot of the group and then we all set off back home. At this stage we had 52 km complete before we set off again, good to have the back broken of it so to speak. On the way back we acquired 2 extra cyclists, Roisin and Clare and lost 1 to the 24km group – Martin couldn’t keep up with us! Fiona, Kathleen and Jackie also took their own route home as a group of 3. Now Roisin stepped up to the plate as leader and did a fine job taking us through Skryne, Ratoath, Fleenstown, Mulhuddart and back to base – Insomina in Carpenterstown for more tea and scones. On arrival here we had completed 100km on the nose.

So to recap it was a fantastic day, so well organised and every one in great form.

Oh I also was wearing a better pair of cycling shorts – made me notice the sunny day more!

 

Mark and Noelle: Saturday 28th April 

A huge gang of about 25 of us assembled in the Carpenter car park ready to take advantage of the almost perfect weather conditions which were dry and bright but slightly cold so it was hard to decide on the right amount of layers for the cycle. The 22k group were heading towards Kilcock, Summerhill and then  back through Dunboyne. The 24K group was heading towards Kilteel via Athgoe and back through Celbridge and Lucan. I decided to go out with the 24k group which was being lead by Erick who did a fantastic job of keeping everyone safe.

In total there were 12 of us in the 24K group we started at a good pace that we were all comfortable with. We went out past Lucan to Newcastle and onto Athgoe. As always everyone found the hill at Athgoe to be quite challenging. The climb helped everyone to get nicely warmed up and on the decent we took in some amazing views over Dublin City. We again had another challenging hill as we made our way up towards Kilteel and we stopped for a quick sip of water at the top and allowed everyone to catch their breath.

As we worked our way back to Celbridge we had a few other climbs that caught us by surprise...I think by the time we got Celbridge I think the group were happy to know there were no more hills on the route. In total we had 600 meters of climbing which is pretty respectable for a 70K cycle. We made our way back via Lucan golf club and Erick had one more surprise in store for us...a climb up Somerton Lane which spent the last of any energy that we had left!!

Overall really nice challenging route with a nice mix of hills and views over Dublin and a great bunch to do it with.

 

Mark and Noelle: Saturday 7th April

Again we had fine conditions starting off our cycle and the numbers were great we had around 25 of us assembled in the carpenter pub car park ready to get going. Again we split into 4 groups but this time most people opted to go with the 24k group so that had to be further divided into two groups of 7 cyclists. Both the 22K and 24K groups were heading towards Kilbride and Rathoath doing a 50K spin and the 26 and 28k groups had a longer and more challenging 86K spin heading out towards Maynooth, Kilcock and Enfield. 

 

This week I headed out with the 24K group and we started out at a solid pace out past the Blanchardstown centre and heading towards Hollystown. Although it was not raining the ground was a little wet so we had careful to be on roundabouts ect.

We had the wind in our faces as we headed out the Rathoath road so we kept in a tight formation and changed the leader to keep the good pace we had going. We ran into the other 24K group as they were heading in the same direction as us, the roads were also busy with other groups of cyclists. We managed to avoid any mechanical mishaps this week but we did take one or two wrong turns which did slow us down a little. Crossing over the M3 motorway we passed along the back of the airport which is well known for being a hard drag with a strong head wind so that took the last of our energy.

 

Overall a really enjoyable cycle with a good bunch and a nice route through Meath and North Dublin. The weather seems to have changed at last and as a group there a feeling the maybe the eternal winter is over and that we can now get going with some long spins. Rumour has it we are going to go for our first adventure to the Dublin mountains next week, that will be a great test for our fitness early in the year.

 

 

Mark and Noelle: Saturday March 24th

Following a few weeks of inactivity due to adverse weather conditions the numbers signing up for this weeks spins were huge. There was almost 25 of us assembled outside the carpenter ready to enjoy the bright but cold weather. We were split into four groups a 22K, 24K and two 26K (as we had reached the limit of 12 persons per group for that speed). So under instruction from our spin leaders we set off. All of us were heading for Kildare the 22s and 24s were heading towards Maynooth-Straffin and then back through Celbridge covering 55K in total. Both 26s were heading out over the n7 towards Athgoe and back also through Celbridge covering a distance just shy of 70K. 

I was with the second of the 26K groups being headed up by our fearless spin leader Tom who kept us safe and sound. We started out at a strong pace to keep the cold at bay, after going through Lucan and Newcastle we hit Athgoe. What I didn't know was that just outside Athgoe there is a huge hill that drags for a good 500 meters. After a serious workout getting to the top we took a much needed break for a few minutes to get some food and liquids in. I was dead last to the top of the hill- a few weeks off the bike was really taking its toll on me and I was lagging at the rear of the group. We had another break when one of our team had a puncture just outside of Clane however with some expertise and the use of some modern toys (i.e pocket gas) we were back on the road less than 10 minutes later.  

 

Coming back through Maynooth we caught up with the 22s and 24s and we all got to the coffee shop at about the same time for a cappuccino. Overall a very enjoyable spin with bright but cold conditions and a good marker for this time of year.

Mark and Noelle: 17th March 18

So today our organised spin was cut from 50km to 33km due to the snowing / sleety conditions ...not that I was complaining! Our Irish winter seems to want to take an extended holiday here and doesn’t want the sun to come out.

So 2 great leaders took the reigns today - Brian and Tony. They kept a tight ship and got us 8 "hardy bucks"around safely.
It was real cold but must say very enjoyable and the tea after was so welcome.

Again I’m not wearing the correct gear and a lot of comments on my inadequate shorts being short and not long so deffo need to get that sorted.

 

Mark and Noelle: 15th March 18:

So tonight we had our first meeting to organise the 'Castleknock Cycling Club’s' weekend away to Antrim for the 'Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive' on the 08 Sept 18.


The meeting was headed up by a proud Kerry woman who had 7 diligent attendees. Tasks were divided out accordingly and I and my Mayo counterpart got tasked with organising the quiz for the weekend away. I love quizzes not that I’m any good, just nosey!

We had a gear fitting also post our meeting. There was all sizes of any thing stretchy with loads of padding. I myself am taking the plunge, splash out as you may and going to invest in a proper pair of club cycling shorts so after that there’s no stopping me, Antrim here I come!

We'll update this page with all of the club's antics as the big day comes closer. If you'd like to keep us updated on what your club is doing coming up to the big day, we'd love to hear from you! Email us to info@cycleni.com and tell us your plans.

Noelle Rohan
Noelle Rohan  Cyclist with Castleknock Cycling Club

2016's Queen of the Mountain

Posted on August 11, 2017 @ 3:14 PM in Cycling

One of the most iconic sportives in Northern Ireland, the Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive takes place this year on Saturday 9th September with support from DiscoverNI. In the lead up to the event, participants eagerly train to be in with a chance of winning the specially timed segment up the infamous Torr Head. The fastest male earns the title of King of the Mountain and fastest female, Queen of the Mountain.

We caught up with the 2016 Queen of the Mountain, Claire Vernon, to hear her thoughts on the day. Claire is a keen cyclist from Belfast who rides with Phoenix Cycle Club. She flew up Torr Head’s QOM Segment in a seriously impressive 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Torr Head tops out at 1,210 feet with a gradient hitting over 20% in places and an average gradient of 8%.

I had originally planned to do the longer, more formidable route but due to last-minute social commitments (and since I sacrifice enough of my social life for cycling) I thought I’d forgo the 115 mile-route (what a martyr!) and do the 85-mile cycle instead.

Since I no longer had the challenge of completing the longest leg in one of the toughest sportives in the UK and Ireland, my sportive buddy had planted the idea in my head of completing the 85-mile route in under 5 hours. So, with that goal in mind, and charged with a healthy dose of competitive spirit (sure, it would be good if I managed the sub 5-hour target but it would be even better if I beat my friend to the finish line…), I set off like the hammers.

The first section is a bit of a blur as I hopped from group to group, depending on which one offered the best speed/shelter ratio. Unfortunately to meet my target I had to skip two of three feed stations. I opted for the middle one, where my sportive partner had allocated a strict 10-minute time limit to stuff a ham bap into my gob.

Knowing that Torr Head now awaited me, I was lucky enough to receive a tow along the coastal road by a strong two-man team putting in some kind of time trial-esque effort. I’m not quite sure why they chose to do this in the lead up to Torr Head, but I certainly wasn’t complaining.

For some reason I thought the QOM challenge was on the very first part of Torr Head, so I attacked the first steep, winding section until I felt sick. Eventually, after dodging cars, fellow cyclists and sheep, I saw a roadside marker indicating the actual start of the segment, about three quarters of the way along Torr Head, leaving me wondering “What kind of masochist decided to place it here?!”

 

Claire's winning Torr Head ascent captured by sportive photographer IndustryImage.

I really was truly spent by that stage, but I summoned some inner strength by recalling all those times I’d been charging up a hill on a training ride and someone shouted out their car window “Keep ‘er lit!” – which always gives me a little boost.

(Maybe during future Giant's Causeway Coast Sportives you could have a roadside speaker that blares out “Keep ‘er lit!” at participants?)

With legs burning and heart frantically beating, I finally trounced Northern Ireland’s most ball busting climb. After enjoying the thoroughly dissatisfying descent off Torr Head (a climb that deserves a much better descent), I rolled into Ballycastle, finishing under 5 hours and – more importantly – beating my friend by a good 5 minutes.

 

Claire collects her QOM Prize from Chain Reaction Cycles Belfast Flagship Store.

If you want a chance to tackle the event’s KOM / QOM segment on either the 85 or 115 mile route, you can register for the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive on the event website, and keep up to date with everything via our Facebook page. If you’re planning to earn the title, the time to beat for King of the Mountain is 6 minutes and 40 seconds; and 8 minutes 46 seconds for Queen of the Mountain. Learn more about the stunning Causeway Coast via Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

Latest comment posted by https://www.sportforaction.com/ on December 16, 2017 @ 1:04 PM

As soon as I come to Ireland I know what to do and where to go! Read more >

Claire Vernon
Claire Vernon  Cyclist and QOM at GCCS 2016

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