Friday, 7 August 2015

Tour of Wexford - Cycling in Ireland

My wife is Irish and still, as you can imagine having four brothers and sisters, has lots of relatives in "the old country".  The family whilst living in Dublin maintain holiday homes in a town called Blackwater just north of Wexford and it is a tradition that they all spend a week or two in July enjoying the Irish countryside and beaches with their families, three generations together.

Each year we decamp from London and venture across the Irish Sea in our trusty old 2004 Renault Megane Estate fully loaded with the three of us, our luggage, three bikes, XBox or PS4 and the kitchen sink. We have an arrangement with another unrelated family who have a holiday home in the same area to rent their holiday home for the week.   Believe it or not we usually get lovely weather and last year and the year before it didn't rain at all (this year we caught the odd wet spell).

This year was no different.  What was different was that my brother-in-law who has a family including four daughters and a son all under 13 years old used to be on the heavy side.  three years ago he changed his lifestyle and started walking and cycling to work.  Last year he bought a reasonably light hybrid and started doing more mileage so during the 2014 holiday he and I cycled around Wexford. This year he has really caught the cycling bug!  He has already done the Wicklow Mountains sportive and the Ring of Kerry so he was in good form (unlike me).

Before we set out my brother-in-law made it clear he expected me to bring a racing bike to accompany him on rides in the mornings.  As instructed this year I brought the Specialized Roubaix.

We managed to get in rides on five mornings.  Another morning we were supposed to go out, however, that was the one day it rained and as fair weather riders this didn't suit us so we went to the Eniscorthy golf driving range and did the shopping in LIDL/ALDI instead.

Wexford town council and the Irish Tourist Board have set out three rides in the area between 36 Km and 78 Km www.discoverireland.ie/Activities-Adventure/wexford-cycle-routes/78119 and these are signposted with blue signs.  We only discovered these in 2014 and have not actually ridden the formal routes but have followed the same roads and crossed the routes many times noticing the blue signs.  They are good if you don't know the area.

Each morning I would turn up at 08:30 am at my brother-in-laws house and we would discuss possible routes.  It usually consisted of "We went south yesterday, what about north today?" or w"we followed the Slaney River from Eniscorthy along the roads to the west yesterday, what about we follow the river on the roads to the east today?".  Anyway, this format seemed to work as each day we discovered some great new roads and we did about 500 metres of climbing each day.

I must say I did my usual trick of wheelsucking seeing as I was not as fit as my brother-in-law but he didn't mind as the was training for a long sportive (Stephen Roach?) in August.

At the end of the week we had done over 150 miles, not got rained on, and really seen the countryside.  We saw lots of other cyclists enjoying the roads.  Would I recommend riding there - Yes.

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