The first of the An Post 2014 Tour series took place on Sunday, 4th May with over 2,000 participants. Myself and my friend Mairead from TriDi trialthon club opted for the 100k Innisfree event. We woke up early to ominous grey clouds with heavy drizzle atypical of the West coast. We set off to join the rest of the participants leaving from Sligo IT. There were no sightings of other LCRC members at this point but they may have opted for a bigger challenge in the 160k, which departed earlier! Just before the departure at 10am the heavens opened and we all quickly set off anxious to escape the rain. Luckily, for most of the day, it was a mix of cloud and rain but very little wind.
The tour brought us out of the town towards Strandhill along the coast. At this stage the weather started to clear a bit and we had spectacular views of Coney Island and the iconic mountain range of Ben Bulben, Knocknarea and Queen Maeve’s resting place as we cycled along.
We continued onto Ballisodare Bay in the direction of Coolaney and the first significant climb of the day, through the Ox mountains to an area called the Hungary Rock. Passing through Coolaney, the route took us towards Lissalough and found ourselves on quiet country roads doing a loop to bring us back again into Coolaney for the main food stop where we received a warm welcome from Coolaney Development Company.
Just before descending into Coolaney I heard a spoke snapping in my back wheel. That could have been the end of my day. Luckily, timing was on my side, as the mechanic from Flanagan’s cycles in Sligo was at the food stop and greatly assisted me so I could get back on the road for the last 50k - albeit with a broken spoke and minus back brakes!
Well fed and watered and hoping luck would stay on my side, we headed onwards towards scenic Ballygawley Lough passing briefly through Co. Leitrim before coming to Dromahaire. We were then directed onto a new route back to Sligo which added an additional climb. However what goes up must come down and we were rewarded with further spectacular scenery as we descended towards Sligo along the scenic Doon Lough and the Leean/Keelogyboy mountain ranges.
The last 14km were like a recovery spin with the climbing over, and we arrived back to Sligo IT to further refreshments and a great atmosphere.
All in all a very enjoyable day was had offering great organisation, catering and marshalling while also incorporating the scenic coastal route showing the best of what Sligo has to offer.