On a sunny day, the cycle back from Fanore to Ballyvaughan, Co Clare with the Atlantic views on your left and the Burren on your right, must be one of the best in Ireland. You have done all the hard work, battling the wind for over 100KM through the heart of the Burren only getting relief when you reach Liscannor and start heading north again along the Atlantic coast, passing the Cliffs of Moher. Those last 20 KM are breath taking. Once finished, for the next few hours, Ballyvaughan, on a sunny day, captures the essence of a fantastic sportive. You are greeted with an ice cream and receive your jersey. As a committed coffee and hill’s, the famous The Tea Room’s is my first port of call to meet family and friends where we shared war stories and observations on the day. Then onto the pub for a well earned pint, standing outside, chatting to other cyclists about their endeavours. Hard to beat!

 

Fig 1. Fanore to Ballyvaughan

 

Fig. 2 Poulnabrone Dolmen

 

Fig 3. Father Ted’s

 

I had trained with the 140KM Mount Leinster group, had completed it and the Tour De Connemara. This year’s Tour De Burren was a friends and family affair, some doing the 100KM Route and others the 148KM. My goal was to complete the Burning Burren route, 148KMs and 1245 ascent at a yellow pace. Leaving Ballyvaughan at 9.00 am, we knew the forecast was to be excellent but also that the food-stop was at 90KM. Very quickly we were in the heart of the Burren, climbing and with a south wind blowing. We passed the Ailwee Caves, and continued climbing, passing Poulnabrone dolmen. Further along the road I spotted Father Ted’s house, which provided a photo opportunity. Passed through Boston, we had the beauty of Lough Bunny on our left. By now we were enjoying a clear sky, quiet roads but that tough south wind persisted. In Lisdoonvarna, we enjoyed the famous, smoked salmon. I cherished the tea and met a woman who, kindly, gave me a sun cream top-up. 90KM done, it was time for a gel and a protein bar.

 

The route from Lisdoonvarna to Liscannor was a quiet boreen, though wonderful countryside with picturesque cottage gardens. From Liscannor, we turned north along the coast, knowing the wind would be on our backs. However ahead of us was the long 4KM climb up to the Cliffs of Moher. Here my Mount Leinster training helped me. For the last 40KM we enjoy great views of the Atlantic and with the wind on our backs, our spirits rose. This all helped me to complete the route with an average speed of 22.1KM, achieving my yellow pace goal, just about. The memories of this year’s Tour De Burren, with the excellent weather, wonderful scenery and great atmosphere will last for a very long time.

 

Fig 4. Finish with an Ice Cream
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