Monday, 25 May 2015

Castlereagh do Conamara

Saturday was Castlereagh's third appearance at the Tour of Conamara and I doubt it'll be our last. It's a long drive, but that's part of what makes it a great weekend destination and more than just a bike ride. Six of us piled in to two cars and set off at lunch time on Friday. We arrived in time to sign on, get dinner and familiarise ourselves with a few local establishments - nothing too wild, we saved that for Saturday....
The 140k started at 9:30 in steady rain, but at least it wasn't too cold. Retro went off like a scalded cat, with Digger following with a knowing look - we knew what was coming. Brian and I took it a bit steadier, jumping from group to group, moving forward until we found a decent working group. Melissa and Mary started the 80k at 10:30 by which time the weather was if anything worse.
The Tour of Conamara attracts 2000 riders, so you're never short of company. It wasn't too long until the rain started to lift and we got sight of the beautiful scenery around us. We all skipped the first feed and regrouped at the second in Maam Valley, which lies between two of the three drags on the course - the climbs aren't steep by Co Down standards. Digger and I checked out a nice Fondriest in team green, then refreshed we climbed up and over to Leeanne and turned on to the coast along the fjord.
The last climb comes after Letterfrack, by which time the 80k and 140k routes have converged, giving everyone a chance to empty their legs. Everybody stayed upright, rode brilliantly and enjoyed a welcome pint at the Station House to celebrate mission complete.
With the day stage done, we headed to our B&B's to shower, change and get ready for the night stage. In true Castlereagh tradition we enjoyed it and hopefully made a good impression on the locals. A lot of riders stay for the night and it's worth it. We considered a short spin on Sunday morning, but decided a leisurely breakfast, short dander and early start up the road was a better option. Cheers to everyone for the company and the craic - til the next one!
We put our ride on Strava:

For more info on the Tour of Conamara, check out their webpage:


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