Neil McAllister reports from the Slieve Gullion Wheelers Tour of Carlingford.
A good bunch of Banbridge men made their way down to Sliverbridge for sign on to the Tour of Carlingford which was hosted by Slieve Gullion Wheelers. We had announced the planned trip to the usual lads to get a feel for who might be up for the challenge and it was great to see one of our better turn outs from the club for a sportive in recent times. 9 BCC members headed off together for the 50mile charity ride, which would have been the 3rd charity ride we’d taken on over the past few weeks.
As everyone rolled out, we all set off together towards Dundalk. From past experience we’d decided to get near the front from the start and stay in relative safety – 3 of the lads managed to crash as recently as February, resulting in Mark braking his collar bone. Apparently that makes him a “real cyclist” now!
The pace was nice and hot down to Dundalk, with a big group together until the first notable hill, after which it started to split. All the yellow Banbridge jerseys were still there however, with Marty F, Brian C, Pete, John F and I all setting the pace at the front
The coffee stop was in Carlingford Four Seasons Hotel, which was a welcome break as there was a predicted head wind all the way home. On the first half of the run the average was a very uncharitable 23.5mph, but we were all thoroughly enjoying it and pleased with the pace. When we left Carlingford ‘Big Jon’ S took to the front and with a loud crack the rear derailleur broke clean off his frame. That would be the end of Jon’s day on the bike and he would have to wait for the Broom Wagon.
There was still a large group heading back to Newry, but not many wishing to work at the front as the predicted head wind was now blowing with full force. We started to hit the climbs up by Daisy Hill and then into Camlough, with the pressure on to see how many lads could stick in. One by one as the pace increased they dropped like flies.
Derek Evans appeared in the group and got 5 of us working together into Camlough. The group was getting smaller by every pedal stroke. The legs where burning, but most of the Banbridge CC guys where hanging in, even if the last 8 mile appeared to take forever. The last twist to the day’s tale would be Johny L unfortunately braking his chain in the last couple of mile.
We all got back safe and sound, and even better almost dry – it only started to rain in the final couple of miles. It was a very well run event by Slieve Gullion Wheelers with plenty of motorcycle marshals and a great spread of food when we got back to the hall.
The next sportive planned for the club is the Carrickmacross CC North East Coastal on 12th April followed by the 195km ‘Big Italian Bike Ride’ on the 3rd May. The following week after that is Dromara CC’s popular Coastal Sportive where a large turnout from the club is expected.
A link to the Strava recording from our ride at Carlingford can be found here: https://www.strava.com/activities/275942927