I was really looking forward to taking part in the 2015 Tour de Burren after how incredible the cycle was last year (Post here). My intention had been to be more prepared but unfortunately that didn't work out too well thanks to the Cork Marathon and a week in Mallorca. I found myself at 10am on the morning of the cycle at the start line getting on my bike for the SECOND time this year. Last year I had given priority to cycling over running which I felt had derailed my running efforts so this year I decided not to do the same... although in hindsight I probably should have given it a bit more time than one cycle in the previous 11 months.
All signed up and ready to tackle the 2015 Tour de Burren
On your marks... Start Line!
Myself and Aisling started with the hundreds of others on the 96K route at 10.30am - leaving sunny Ballyvaughan behind us as we headed into the first 30K and the first few climbs. I knew the route from last year which I thought would have made it easier but it really didn't. I'd recalled the first 30K being "easy enough" with two climbs but really, it was the most challenging part of the entire circuit. Myself and Aisling stayed together chatting both between ourselves and to others who cycled alongside us for the route.
Danger Danger - Cycling selfies...
We pulled into Carran (30K) before noon where we met a gang from work. We had a banana, refilled the water bottles and had a quick chat before getting back on our bikes. The problem with coming in to a food stop last is that everyone else is ready to go, so without much consideration we hopped back on our bikes and off we went for the next leg of the journey, 30k to 60k. We knew the food stop in Lisdoonvara was at 60K but we also knew it was proceeded by the dreaded Corkscrew Hill.
As we left Carran, it started to rain. The rain and low hanging clouds hid the amazing views of the Burren under dark grey skies. While I felt sorry for the other cyclists who were missing out on what I knew was absolutely incredible scenery, I was more concerned with surviving on wet roads. It was only as we were speeding downhill towards the Ailwee Caves (45K) that I realised this was my first time cycling in the rain. Slipping road surfaces and an inexperienced cyclist didn't make the journey as enjoyable as before but we made it.
Bit too late for the pre-climb prayer
We reached the bottom of Corkscrew Hill soaked to the bone but that didn't damped the mood as we slowly zig-zagged up the 220m incline. Like last year, I loved the banter with other cyclists as we made our way (in the pouring rain) towards the cheesecake that we knew was waiting in Lisdoonvarna. Myself and Aisling reached Lisdoon before 2pm. The rain had stopped people gathering around outside so the hall was quieter than before but that also meant we had a great selection of sandwiches and cheesecake to help ourselves to.
Wheres the cheesecake?
As we left Lisdoon, the sun came out and we cycled the last 40km through Doolin and along the Clare coast towards Fanore chatting, laughing and in great form. At one point Aisling broke out a verse of 'The sun will come out' but I couldn't tell if that was tiredness, dehydration or elation as we were nearly finished. About 10K from the finish, Aisling's mum drove passed a few times and beeped us home! It was glorious to finish dry and in flying form. Of course we had to have the ice-cream at the finish line and we even had time for a pint :)
For Aisling's second cycle ever, 96K certainly wasn't a bad effort. For myself, I was happy to finish and still feel human. Next stop: The Ring of Kerry
Tour de Burren - Strava Data