Tour de Ireland... the best routes
These 12 great road rides around Ireland offer brilliant views through a mix of terrains.
Gap of Dunloe Loop, Kerry
A loop through a beautiful part of the country from Killarney. Half is on roads that can be almost empty. Not for the unfit; it includes two difficult climbs, but the last 23km is mostly flat or downhill. A cycling classic; the magnificent Gap of Dunloe offers a world-class view.
Healy Pass Loop, kerry
Crossing the wild and wonderful Beara Peninsula on one of the finest cycling roads in Ireland — The Healy Pass. Combining a (relatively) gentle gradient with twisting hairpins and extraordinary views; this will be a day on the bike that will linger long in the legs and in the memory.
Mallow to Ballyvourney, Cork
This is a challenging but rewarding ride starting in Mallow and winding around the relatively uncelebrated Boggeragh Mountains of North Cork to the Cork-Kerry border. Superb, varied cycling on quiet roads, finishing with an option to take on one of Ireland’s highest roads to Mullaghanish.
Bantry to Cork City
West Cork’s roads offer superb cycling in some of Europe’s most celebrated scenery. The route takes you north from Bantry through hilly country. After Kealkill, you climb the Pass of Keimaneigh and pass Gougane Barra.
Phoenix Park Loop, Dublin
Phoenix Park is a revelation, with miles of scenic, well-surfaced roads just outside the heart of the city; an easy but worthwhile loop and much used by the city’s sport cyclists.
Glen Of Aherlow Loop, Limerick
The Glen of Aherlow is one of Ireland’s most spectacular inland landscapes, and this route takes in the famous viewpoint at the Christ The King statue and Athassel Abbey, starting and finishing at Limerick Junction.
Cooley Peninsula Loop
A loop around the charming and surprisingly accessible peninsula, with one big climb and fantastic views across the border, taking in the Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Lough.
Details: http:// cycleireland.ie/cooley-peninsula-cycle-loop/
Knockmealdowns Loop, Tipperary
Difficulty: Very hard
The Knockmealdowns may not be Ireland’s most famous mountains (the name’s hard to fit into a song), but they offer a superb cycling challenge and a fine day on two wheels, including the much-vaunted Vee climb among many others.
Wicklow Gap, Wicklow
Difficulty: Very hard
One for hill enthusiasts; this route packs a lot into its modest length, but en route you’ll take in much of Wicklow’s best scenery and some exquisite climbs worthy of any level of ability.
Joyce Country – Westport to Cong, Mayo–Galway
Some of the best of Mayo and Connemara unfolds on this route heading south from busy Westport, through the rugged mountains of Connemara to the ‘Quiet Man’ village of Cong on the Mayo-Galway border.
Slieve Blooms Short Loop, Laois–Offaly
Generations of midlands cyclists have cut their teeth on the steep drags of the Slieve Blooms. This route has one long but manageable climb and — by midlands standards at least — some impressive views over the heart of Ireland.
Mourne Mountains Loop, Down
The breathtaking, yet accessible and welcoming Mournes offer a huge range of cycling options. This route takes in the celebrated scenery of the Mourne Mountains, with an optional and highly recommended 17km return trip to the Silent Valley, heading east from Newry over rolling hills before beginning the long climb past the Spelga Dam. After a long descent from Spelga, the route runs alongside Carlingford Lough to Rostrevor.
Cycle loops: Gap of Dunloe, Co Kerry, and right (top to bottom) the Phoenix Park, Dublin, the Healy Pass, Co Kerry, and the Mourne Mountains, Co Down
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