I sent a short text to my friend Paul recently.
“Right, think I’m in for Chase The Sun … it is possible, right?”
“We’ll find out,” came the reply.
It wasn’t the type of reassurance I was hoping for but having someone else throw down the gauntlet is the first step along a long road. It helps to get a nudge from a friend.
Chase The Sun means 336km of cycling in one day. Starting at sun rise in Belfast (4.45am) and, hopefully, crawling over the finish line before sunset (10.13pm) in Enniscrone, Co Sligo. Coast to coast, east to west, all on the longest Saturday of the year.
When it comes to challenging yourself on two wheels there’s always a temptation to push yourself further, faster, to do something different. And that’s what this sportive offers. It’ll require going further, and probably faster, than I’ve ever gone before.
I’ve survived some tough sportives in the past, the Wicklow 200, the Sean Kelly Challenge and even a day of the Haute Route Pyrenees – even if I missed a time cut – but this feels like a battle of equations as well as endurance. I’ve been doing the maths while out on the bike: 100km at 25kmph = 4 hours, 300km at 25km = 12 hours etc, etc… and trying to figure out the results of improving the average speed. It still feels like a stretch.
The Chase The Sun concept is a pretty simple one. It’s a ride across the country in one day, on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice. It started in the south of England as a challenge amongst friends to see how far they could ride in one day. It has now spawned Chase The Sun rides in the north of England, Italy and, since last year, across Ireland.
I was in touch with he Chase The Sun team to get some more information and the first observation I had was how riders would be spending most of the day heading in a south-westerly direction. A long day could become even longer if the prevailing winds blow, which I’m told they certainly did last year. That could be the making or breaking of a day’s ride. The general consensus is that the Irish leg is the most difficult of them all.
Again, it was the not the information I was hoping to hear, but the challenge looks pretty epic. My longest day in the saddle was a two-man 220km ride two years ago, so this will certainly turn the dial up and require some serious preparation. I’m not usually one for really structured training, I just go out and ride the bike. I might need a change of approach this time. I just hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can handle.
I never thought I’d look at a sportive like the Wicklow 200 as a potential training ride, but that’s where I’ve found myself.
This week - Km covered: 140km over three rides
Altitude gained: 1700m
Tweet of the week
Filippo Ganna put on a display of raw power to put himself back into position as the winds blew and echelons formed on Stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico this week. Poor positioning was quickly rectified by the Italian powerhouse, who was riding the leader’s jersey at the time. It’s highlighted perfectly here.
Treat of the week
I had a quick stop in Nick’s Coffee in Wicklow town for a coffee and slice of lemon cake.
Kildare Cycling Club are hosting a women’s introductory cycle tomorrow morning (10.0am), which will take place on the Monasterevin Blueway. See here for more information
On Wednesday night, Sinéad Kennedy launched her new book ‘Life is a Cycle – a story of cycling adventures and solo travel’ at the Cycle Superstore in Dublin. Sinéad has lived a life less ordinary on two wheels and in Life is a Cycle she details her epic rides on the Death Road in Bolivia, through the Dolomites in Italy and riding solo from the north to the south coast of Spain. She wrote a piece for us this week too.
After referencing some of the hardest climbs in Ireland last week, a few other summits were suggested this week.
Truskmore on the border of Sligo and Leitrim weights in at a punishing 4.2km at 10 per cent. While the Mount Leinster mast climb measures 2.57km at 13.4 per cent. Both sound brutally difficult.
Phil Skelton from Wexford Bicycle User Group got in touch to highlight some of the routes they’ve designed to show off the best of the Model county. They detail points of interest, historical sites and, most importantly, where to take a well-earned pit-stop. Check them out on the Wexbug.org site.
Despite only living up the coast, I haven’t cycled too many Wexford roads, though I did the Hook Loop back in the summer of 2020. While the road surface was covered in loose clippings at the time, the views were stunning. We put this short video together as part of a series we were doing about summer cycles at the time.
Sam Bennett has had a frustrating week at Paris-Nice. After a promising second-place finish on Stage 1 behind Tim Merlier, the Carrick-on-Suir sprinter finished 20th on Stage 2 and was seventh on yesterday’s stage. Today’s action was then blown off course due to ‘violent winds’. The weather also played havoc with Imogen Cotter's week, with both Drentse Acht van Westerveld in the Netherlands and GP Oetingen in Belgium cancelled due to poor weather. Hopefully, there’s brighter days ahead for both.