ONE of Ireland’s most scenic cycle sports is back on the road this weekend. The route used for Ride Dingle is known worldwide for its stunning Atlantic Ocean views and on Saturday cyclists will be treated to uninterrupted views of iconic Irish landmarks like Skellig Michael, the Blasket Islands, Conor Pass, Slea Head and the historic fishing port of Dingle.
his constant stream of photo opportunities may stop cyclists in their tracks, but makes for an incredible backdrop to one of the most anticipated spring cycles. After the Covid interruptions of 2020 and 2021, Ride Dingle returns this weekend with a sell-out event.
Established in its current form in 2019, Dingle Ride was in operation for many years at a local level by Dingle Cycling Club. They then partnered with Elite Event Management – organizers of the Ring of Beara Cycle and Wicklow 200 – with the aim of pushing the event to the top of the cycling calendar.
The 2019 event saw 1,400 cyclists take part but it has now grown to more than 3,000 for this year’s event.
The untimely arrival of Storm Hannah saw the last edition of this event delayed by 24 hours, but the forecest for West Kerry is a lot more optimistic this time around.
The cycle is well supported by local business and the Dingle Cycle Club, with a noisy atmosphere expected at the finish line as cyclists return to refreshments and live music at Paul Geaney’s Bar.
A great boost to Dingle tourism, Ride Dingle also benefits from partnering with Dingle Peninsula Tourism and charity Camphill Community for those with special intellectual needs.
Ride Dingle includes two routes: 55km and 120km. The shorter route starts in Dingle town and follows a fairly flat start out to Ventry and on to Slea Head. Cyclists pass Coumeenoole Beach which featured in the film Ryan’s Daughteras well as views of Skellig Michael, made world-famous as a location in the latest Star Wars movies.
A food stop in the picturesque village of Ballyferriter will re-fuel riders before a short ascent on the way back to Dingle and a 6km ride downhill to the finish. Total climb for this route is 730m.
The longer 120km route follows the same path as the 55km route out to Slea Head and back to Dingle before beginning the steep challenge of Conor Pass, one of Ireland’s highest mountain passes.
This 5km climb is worth it for the stunning views of Dingle town to the west and Brandon Point to the north. The road then descends into Cloghane with exceptional views of Brandon Bay, and a food stop at Camp.
From here, you climb to Annascaul, home of the famous black pudding and birthplace of Arctic explorer Tom Crean. A cycle into Lispole follows an easy road back into Dingle and the finish. Total climb for this route is 1,695m.
See full details on www.ridedingle.com
Five other events to ride
Saturday, April 23
The Westportif Cycling Challenge takes place in Westport this weekend and features two stunning routes – 80km and 150km. Both include the scenic roads around Killary Fjord, Doolough Valley and Clew Bay with the longer route featuring three categorized climbs.
Cost: € 55
Saturday, May 7
The Grand Canal Wheelers hosts this midlands leisure cycle which has two routes, 40km and 80km. Both start from The Square in Daingean, Offaly and take in the local countryside and bog lands.
Cost: € 20
The Wicklow Mountains Cycle Challenge
Saturday, May 14
This annual fundraiser for St James’s Hospital which starts and finishes at Russborough House and is described as the toughest 100km in Wicklow, and with almost 1700m of climbing it’s easy to see why. The 100km route includes the Sally Gap, Shay Elliott and Slieve Maan, while the 50km route is a more sedate loop around Blessington Lakes.
Cost: € 50
Sosad Sportive, Slane
Sunday, May 8
Slane Spinners’ annual sports fundraiser for Sosad Ireland features 105km and 50km routes starting from Stackallen tennis club.
Lough Key Classic
Sunday, May 15
Starting from Boyle, Roscommon, the two loops – 70km or 120km – take riders on a figure of eight loop through the country roads of Roscommon and Sligo.