Saturday 16 December 2017

Tour de Ireland... the best routes

Cyclists take on the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry.
Cyclists take on the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry.

Conor O’Hagan

These 12 great road rides around Ireland offer brilliant views through a mix of terrains.

Gap of Dunloe Loop,  Kerry

Distance: 55km

Climbing: 580m

Difficulty: Average

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/cycle-gap-of-dunloe-loop/

Healy Pass Loop, kerry

Distance: 83km

Climbing: 1,246m

Difficulty: Hard

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/healy-pass-cycle-loop/

Mallow to Ballyvourney, Cork

Distance: 70km

Climbing: 1,145m

Difficulty: Hard

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/mallow-ballyvourney-cycle/

Bantry to Cork City

Distance: 105km

Climbing: 761m

Difficulty: Hard

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/bantry-cork-cycle/

Phoenix Park Loop, Dublin

Distance: 9km

Climbing: 87m

Difficulty: Easy

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/phoenix-park-dublin-cycle-loop/

Glen Of Aherlow Loop, Limerick

Distance: 51km

Climbing: 395m

Difficulty: Easy

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/glen-of-aherlow-cycle-loop

Cooley Peninsula Loop

Distance: 68km

Climbing: 583m

Difficulty: Average

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

Distance: 100km

Climbing: 1,173m

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/knockmealdowns-cycle-loop/

Wicklow Gap, Wicklow

Distance: 75km

Climbing: 1,130m

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/rathdrum-

wicklow-gap-dublin-cyc

Joyce Country –  Westport to Cong, Mayo–Galway

Distance: 67km

Climbing: 824m

Difficulty: Hard

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/joyce-country-westport-cong-cycle/

Slieve Blooms Short Loop, Laois–Offaly

Distance: 59km

Climbing: 548m

Difficulty: Average

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/slieve-blooms-short-cycle-loop

Mourne Mountains Loop, Down

Distance: 70km

Climbing: 973m

Difficulty: Hard

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.

Details: http://cycleireland.ie/mourne-mountains-cycle-loop/

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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