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Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford

August 31, 2011

On Sunday 27th August I rode the Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford – there was a choice of four rides, of course I went for the big one, the Comeragh Challenge.  160 km, including a series of big climbs – two of them super steep.

The big start, with something like 2000 riders was at 8.30 on a beautiful early autumn morning.

From Dungarvan, the route went through lovely rolling countryside for about 30 km or so until the grades started to get steeper.

And steeper….

and kept getting steeper…

And finally over what is (marginally) the highest pass of the route, in the heart of the Comeragh Mountains.

But that was just a taster for the biggest and steepest climb of them all, up to the very beautiful Mahon Falls.

The cows weren’t very impressed though, i guess they’ve seen it all before.

Its nice sometimes, when struggling up a hill, to know there are plenty of people behind you.

Once past the waterfall, there was one final heave before the top.

Lots of riders seemed to want to linger at the top, to take it all in. You’d think by the way they were relaxing that they were finished, but there was 50 km to go!

And after a big climb of course, there is the big – in this case super steep, descent. Combine a wild descent and rough Irish country roads and you can have quite a torrid time…

When I saw the sea after Mahon Pass, I thought this might mean the end of climbs. But on reaching the bottom there was a hard turn right (west), and we faced yet another ridge to cross.

After all the hills, for the last 20 km or so we were treated to lovely rolling countryside as we dropped down gently back to Dungarvan.

And finally back to the base in Dungarvan. It took me around 8 hours, not too bad, at least I wasn’t trailing in with the last group as was the case in the Wicklow 200 earlier in the year.

Its a brilliant ride – well organised, but very informal. Even the food at the lunch stops (two of them – brunch and lunch?) was pretty good. All that and a free jersey!


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