Wicklow 200 Report - Ireland Sportive
Just back from the W200. First time riding in Ireland and first time outside Dublin (which is always on business).
Fabulous time. Could have only been better if we didn't spend the entire day riding in hurricane conditions! I'm truthful in stating that I've never ridden in worse weather and sincerely doubt I could ever come close again!!
The 200 route is a somewhat challenging profile but not a killer like some of the Alpine events. But once we climbed the first hill (525 m above the sea) it became apparent we were in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Winds up top near Sally Gap were reportedly gusting to 70kph and easily were sustaining 30 or so kph. At one point I could make out a buddy ahead in the fog on a flat - we were both crushing ourselves to make progress and the cross winds were so strong that he was noticably leaning to his left to counter the wind force.
That plus sheets of rain and 2 degrees Celsius meant we were miserable. Even once we cross the plains and hit the downhills for Kildare it was blowing. I was cranking in my big ring on a 3% decline and still couldn't hold 20kph (and I weigh 100kg ... no weight jokes I'm a decent cyclist).
But once we got out of the surreal plateau it got better but just a little. The ride around Blessington was, blessedly, on the East side so no lake whipped winds hitting us. But the rides up in the area of Rathdangan - and especially Slieve Maan and Glenmalure were killers - wind coming down the mountain as we were climbing up slopes with 12% inclines.
But I was amazed by the people - those who still volunteered, those who rode, and the many MANY people who stood out on the sides of their house throughtout the day to cheer.
If you commit to riding something like Wicklow you're going to do it no matter the weather (though in hind sight the 100 k option back at KM 17 sure now seems like a wiser approach).
But all those native Irish folks who came out just to lend support. Wow.
Great day, in a great country, albeit in some really crappy weather. But we're looking forward to next year already!!!
If you live in Europe you must give Wicklow a go. Big recommendation.