While many of you were kicking off your adventure race season in Killarney on 13th March, I decided to look forward to Quest Glendalough on 23rd April. I did a recce of the bike route (Strava route), to learn a bit more about the climbs, descents, road surface and corners.
Shay Elliott Climb (Cat 3, 4.5km, 200m climb, 5%)
19:37, 14.0km/h, record Ryan Sherlock 11:18
As you leave Laragh, this is the first climb of the day. It gets the heart racing straight away, so you’ll drop down the gears. It’s tough with several false summits and corners – but you do pass beautiful forest and scenery looking down on Laragh, Trooperstown Hill and the Sugarloaf in the distance. The descent from 380m is fast and a white knuckle ride – the road is bumpy, so pay attention as you pick up speed.
Slieve Mann Climb (Cat 2, 4.3km, 328m climb, 7%)
23:25, 11.3km/h, record Aaron O’Donohue 15:04
Once past Glenmalure Lodge at the River Maan, it’s on upwards again towards Slieve Mann. This climb is longer and higher, but didn’t seem as bad. You’re surrounded by forest and all I could hear was birds, stream water and the wind. This part of Wicklow is so quiet – all day I passed only a handful of cars. The descent into Aghavannagh is fast and hairy – the surface is uneven, so pay attention. There’s a sharp left at the bottom, then gradually up again to Mucklagh Bridge. I passed a pink arm chair in the forest – some eager spectators getting front row seats early perhaps.
Brown Mountain Climb (Cat 3, 5.1km, 183m climb, 4%)
23:00, 13.3km/h, record Richie McCauley 13:59
You’re now heading to the 2nd run up Croaghanmoira Mountain. I skipped the run today, but it’s a tough climb, then back on the bike and you descend fast into Grennan, probably the fastest part of the course. The road is narrow and bumpy, with loose gravel, so if it’s wet on race day, take it handy, or make sure you practice descending on country roads (be safe, cars do fly around blind bends!).
Cois Abhann Climb (Cat 4, 3.0km, 156m climb, 5%)
12:13, 14.8km/h, record Ryan Sherlock 8:19
Over the bridge, and another surprisingly steep climb back towards Laragh. Once you descend fast onto the flat main road, it’s back to Laragh with legs burning.
Overall, Quest Glendalough will suit strong cyclists. Get practising on hills – climbing and descending. Get comfortable cycling on rough surfaces and most of all enjoy being out the fresh country air. We have it all on our doorstep.