Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The 2011 Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford - My Big Biking Challenge

With Sean Kelly in Villierstown
  I should have posted this two or three weeks ago as it was the last Sunday in August that the 2011 Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford took place - this was my second time participating and it was a great day out. I really enjoyed it last year and entered this year's tour with a little trepidation as I wasn't as well prepared as I felt I was last year. I hadn't done many long cycles in advance of the mega-50km trip I'd signed up for (the shortest of the three runs on the Tour so I am not that adventurous!) but I had done about 35km the previous week so I thought I wouldn't have too much trouble. So I was thrilled when I completed it in around the same time as last year - at just over 2 hours and 30 mins. It was a fabulous day weather wise - the sun shone, it wasn't too windy and there was just one small sunshower as we entered Cappoquin for the half-way pit stop.
Certified Cyclists!
Jany and Shayne and kids
Hubby Jan did the 90km tour as he has done for the past three years - he started with the 50km the first time he did it so it was such a doddle for him he decided to do the 90km. The first time he did it the route took him from Dungarvan to Carrick-on-Suir and back in a big circle via Clonmel and Ballymacarbry. Carrick is the home of the aforementioned Sean Kelly, the famous Irish cyclist who has done the Giro d'Italia and taken part in the Tour de France on numerous occasions as well as winning the Vuelta d'Espana in 1988.

Waiting for the starting countdown
Jany & Livia, Shayne & Sofia
The route of the 50km is from Dungarvan to Cappoquin via Villierstown, the  home village of another Irish sporting hero - John Treacy who won an Olympic Silver medal in 1984 in Los Angeles in the Marathon, and who was World Cross-Country champion in 1988 and 1989. So he heads up the Irish Sports Council, and is on the Council of Concern, our old NGO where we spent many happy years working overseas in Development Work. Jan was on the Council with John for the past 3 years and he was pleased to meet John after the cycle. John and Sean Kelly and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny all did the 50km cycle and it was very evidently a fun-run cycle for them all as they posed for photos with the punters in Villierstown and after the Tour back in Dungarvan at the Sports Centre. I got a nice photo of Jan and John, and me and Sean Kelly in Villierstown.

Jan and John Treacy
The scenery looked terrific on the day as we cycled through the verdant sylvan by-roads of West Waterford and from Villierstown to Cappoquin we were in the woodlands that border the Blackwater Valley and caught glistening glimpses of the winding river far below the road - yes, that was some climb from Villierstown to the top of the ridge before descending to the Finisk River valley at the wonderful Hindu-Gothic Bridge, a romantic folly built for the new bride of the local Lord of the Manor- Villiers-Stuart of Dromana House in Villierstown, back in the 19th Century.

Jan arrives back in Dungarvan - 90km on.
The Hindu-Gothic Bridge at Villierstown
We had a lovely food stop in Cappoquin where the local community centre was full of delicious food - pasta and sandwiches and Barron's Brack - the local bakery sponsored the lovely bread and fruit brack, their speciality, and we were well fortified after the refuelling to face the return stretch to Dungarvan. There were no challenging hills on this stretch of the N72 and I felt great after the cycle. I met up with Shayne, Jany and the two children, Sofia and Livia, while we waited for Jan to return from the more gruelling 90km trip along the Copper Coast and the Geo-Park of the old Copper Mines of Bonmahon and along to Tramore. There are some devilish hills on that coast road - the cliffs are indeed scenic but they're also very high when you try to cycle along from sea-level to cliff-top road. He was back in just over four hours which was pretty good for such a difficult trip - and the pros were by then coming back from their 160km mountain challenge through the Comeragh Mountains.

The dappled road from Villierstown to Cappoquin
I hope you enjoy the photos I'm sharing with you - and it gives you an idea of the fun and delights of the day. I do hope to keep up the cycling year round but it's always more challenging in the winter to cycle during the week especially as it's dark so early. I will try to get out on the weekends but they are so full of activities with kids and grandkids that it's hard to prioritise cycling in my me-time!


Lily said...

Catherine, I so wanted to do this cycle after your post last year. I intended to get in contact with you but then a friend decided to get married that weekend and the rest is history.

Congratulations on completing it - the photographs look great.

Maybe next year ...

PS I've gone back blogging

Catherine said...

Hi Lily - welcome back! I read your blog post about cycling in California and I thought this would have been such a doddle for you! You had a marvellous cycling week indeed. I'll leave a comment - I read it on my iPhone so it was too much hassle to comment as I'd have to sign in. So it's good to see you back in the blogosphere - I've been very bad at book clubbing apart from the Twitter book club - are you doing that too? #TwbcOct is next one, end Oct, Roddy Doyle Deportees I think it is. Lorna kept the bbc going on Facebook but I've been abysmal with those books. Hope to be better for winter! All the best, Catherine xxx

Lily said...

I love cycling. We cycled Cyprus for our honeymoon. Next year we are 25 years married so are planning a cycling trip to celebrate.

No I've been a reader reader of late. I too will improve for the winter. I'm going to get back reading books in the bookclub with Lorna. It would be great if you do too. I have read October's book and it really is fantastic. I'd say you would really enjoy it