The “Wolftrap Slieve Bloom Extreme Challenge” does exactly what it says on the tin!  Which is great because it’s not false advertising. On the other hand it kinda fools stupid people like me to think- “how extreme can it really be?!”

A day trip to the midlands for me and my miniature bike I was excited to go extreme even though I couldn’t get anyone else to come with me.

Seven peaks over 170km with 2600m of climbing is by no means the hardest challenge I have ever set myself , so what made the Slieve Blooms so memorable? 

Firstly there was crap road surfaces with serious bone shaking especially on the downhills. Secondly there was damp drizzle that was leaking into my bones and it was border line cold at times. What happened to the good weather the rest of the country was having?  I was one of just six women on the course and finally there were numerous 10-15% gradients. So a bit of work was required.

Wolftrap cycling club were brilliant hosts and in fairness to them, all four corners of Ireland travelled to the event .

While waiting to start I got: 

“Will you manage it ?” 

“Will you do the whole thing?” 

“Take your time and you will be grand!” 

I know people mean well, I stood there gritting my teeth and smiling. I know it was coming from a place of goodness, but I really , really , really , really had to bite my lip!! 


Three of the seven peaks were picked for QOM / KOM. The fastest person over the three climbs would earn the polka dot jersey. I knew my competition, I had seen her in action before and I knew I didn’t have a hope against her. I didn’t know the other four ladies at all so I decided to test them on the first climb. Laura from Clontarf CC was ahead of me, none of the other four passed me. It wouldn’t have mattered if they did, the leading lady was just that. She was streets ahead of me and I made the decision there and then that the jersey was the wrong colour for me and was more than likely the wrong size too! I wish I could say I let her have it or I was sight seeing. The truth is she is amazing and the course was bloody tough.

A figure of 8 the first loop was 100km with four peaks. The fourth was hilarious, I mean it. All I could do was laugh when I hit the Glandine. I had never heard of it but I found myself swearing like a sailor and puffing like I was in Holles Street! I kid you not. It was 5km and it was sickening towards the top. I kept telling myself that Cunard and Lugalla are harder. It wasn’t anything new to me. My abs and arms were killing me, I was throwing all my core strength at this one. 


I passed a few bike walkers who thankfully cheered me on. At the top there was carnage! Well, a few broken bodies but on the plus side it was just 13km and all downhill to the food stop.

The second loop of 70km was tough, I was tired but there only were 3 peaks. The worst was behind us.  The biggest challenge on the entire course is the road surface. It’s like cycling on the moon in places. Some fine big craters, lots of obstacles, moss, gravel, narrow roads and blind corners. Though I did get a lot of cups on Strava for my downhills and flats there was no jersey for that. Probably wouldn’t have fit me anyway !!

The best bit of this sportive was the friendliness. There was just over 100 participants and everyone I met along the way was chatty, willing to cycle in a group, helpful and gentlemanly to me. I was thrilled to get into a group on the two flat sections and get hauled along. I couldn’t take a turn on the front on the first flat as it was into a headwind and we were going to fast. I would have caused a pile up. I just peddled like a lunatic and hung on by the skin of my teeth.

On the second flat I did try to take my turns at the front but the lads were very nice to me and wouldn’t have it.  I was so glad. I threw my inner feminist out the window and emerged as a dainty lady happy to take a tow! 

The last of the seven peaks was the Wolftrap. I was so tired and slow but excited to be almost home. Just thinking about the fabulous technical decent that awaited really spurred me on.

From Kinnity to Birr is about 13km . I was so lucky to pair up with two others at this stage! One of the other girls who had now caught me and her pal. We worked super hard 1km on front each . We lashed through it at extreme speed. Maybe this was the what they meant by an extreme challenge.

Over all , it’s a fantastic sportive. Everyone on the spin was in general agreement that it is way better than the W200. It’s more challenging,  cheaper, great food and it’s smaller numbers. Not for the faint hearted to be honest as the downhills are exceptionally hairy and the climbs are steep. However if you have done an Etape, Mick Byrne, Marmotte etc then it’s certainly well within your capabilities. Plus it would make a fantastic training spin for any of those events.

So whether your a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolverine or a boy who cries wolf, the Wolftrap Slieve Bloom Extreme Challenge will put manners on you!