Sunday 27th September was the date for our end of season Ladies Sportive in aid of Rock Rose House.A scenic 64km around Lough Mask was the route decided upon. On opening the curtains that morning, I prayed for sunshine and calm. That’s what we got. Weather conditions were almost perfect. Everything was organised. It was going to be a great day!Later in the day at Croagh Park the Women’s All Ireland final was making records for the most amount of spectators at a woman’s only event, next year we are going to try and do that in cycling terms…
Shortly after 9am, the ladies began arriving at the Cycle Centre. Spirits were high, helped by the sunshine and the cuppa that greeted them after sign on and goody bag collection. Eamon Marrey was on site for any last minute mechanicals. What struck me ( in the midst of my panic!), was the variation of bikes and riders present. There were mountain bikes, hybrids, tandems and road bikes. There were racers and leisure cyclists alike. That was the aim of this sportive. To have an event which would be open to and achievable for women of all cycling abilities. Another aim was to promote motorists giving cyclists at least 1.5m clearance when overtaking them, this road safety message cannot be promoted enough.
At 10am, following Ruths event briefing and on Kens count, the women set off on their journey, expertly lead by Jimmy Durcan and followed by Michael Walsh. Taking in the fantastic scenery en route, they went from Ballinrobe via Partry to Tourmakeady, where, shortly after they would tackle the short but testing climb of Ma’am Trasna. The breathtaking scenery at the top and being serenaded by 2 of our finest singers ( Ken and Fergal) at the summit, I’m sure made it all worthwhile!
From here, cyclists made their way to the food stop at the Larches in Finney where yummy home baking and a well deserved cuppa awaited them. With Breege, Marie, Melissa and Dave in charge, the ladies were well looked after.Fully fuelled up after the stop, the ladies didn’t even notice the uphill drag on leaving the larches and set about their journey home. After crossing the finish line on the Clonbur Road, participants availed of the hot showers in the Lakeside Sports Centre before making their way to Inchs bar for the soup, sambos and banter…. Some even forgot to go home!!