Over the August bank holiday weekend, while much of the country was sodden and flooded, John McElligot organised the latest addition to the Orwell calendar, the Inner Ring Audax, which was held in blazing sunshine in the sunny south-west of Kerry.

It's fantastic to see Orwell members organising and running new events - well done to John on a smooth day out!

Inner Ring Audax

John McElligot

Thanks to all who completed the Inner Ring on Saturday. 19 entrants and 16 signed on yesterday. It was a real family affair with two sets of husband and wives (one from Tralee and the other from Kilkenny) as well as a band of three brothers from Waterville (two of whom travelled from London for the weekend). Then there was a group of convicts from the Tralee Chain Gang - thanks folks. Other than that we had a motlley crew of reprobates from Audax Ireland, Tralee BC, Midleton, a Dutchman from Clare and a few others besides. I really appreciate the efforts that folks made to do the event. I had hoped for 20 entrants and was happy to get 19.

We were blessed with the day relative to the weather in the rest of the country. A couple of showers and a stiff wind but mostly dry and sunny. Reading of sportifs and races up and down the country that were battered by heavy rain and winds made the day even better.

It's a bloody tough cycle over hard dead roads but I think the scenery is spectacular. The cyclists set off in groups around 8am and started climbing after 10k (up Ladies' View to Moll's Gap). Lovely sweeping road down to Kenmare then out the road toward Sneem before taking a sneaky back road climb to Moll's Gap. A precipitous drop down to the Balck Valley (last place in ireland to get electricity) and then over some l'Eroica style roads to get to the Gap of Dunloe - short leg buster of a climb. Stunning views and the stench of horse shite met the cyclists as they would have descended onto the madness that is Dunloe at a bank holiday weekend.

After that is the easiest 15km of the cycle on the road to Killorglin. Out of Killorglin to do a full loop of Caragh Lake including the Devils Elbow (which will feature on Dan's 300k later in the month). Personally this is my favourite part of the cycle. Caragh Lake is spectacular and it is rare to meet a car around here.

After that a backroad climb up to Glenbeigh before taking the 2km out to Rossbeigh beach for the second control and first manned control. We had a spread of sambos, drinks, melon, bananas (there was chocolate - but I ate it all waiting for the guys). Straight after the feed station there is a 1.1km climb at 12% which is possibly the most stunning steep climb in the country. Hugs a cliff with Dingle Bay to your right. Something to take the mind off of the torture.

At this stage there is 114km done with about 90km left. Once hitting the main road the cyclists reported a stiff headwind coming in off of the Atlantic - but the views on the coast road for me are worthwhile. They took a left before Caherciveen and cycled up past Ironman Mick Murphy's house and on to the windmills.. Drop down to the valley before tackling Ballaghisheen. I hate this climb.

The views down to Glencar valley sometimes make it worthwhile. At the bottom the guys took a right to head up Ballaghbema to the final control then onto Moll's Gap before descending onto Muckross. 201km and 12 climbs, dead roads, some of the best scenery around.

Sixteen people started and they all finished. Some were seriously fast, others took their time - and why wouldn't you. One guy hadn't enough so he did the route twice to join up with his lady wife.

All competitors made it around, the first got home about 4pm and the last after 11 o'clock. Well done to all - you deserve a big pint.

Lessons learned:

  • Three controls is too many
  • Spread the two manned controls further - was touch and go with the timing (and I missed the two front runners).
  • Next year I will do a manned control early and late and then use unmanned control around Glenbeigh/Rosbeigh.

If people have feedback to improve the cycle I would be interested. I think I got the numbers correct - I set it at 20. To do more I would need volunteers and I am happy to do it solo. Also I would be interested in putting the route up as a permanent.

Thanks to the guys in Audax Ireland and Orwell Wheelers for the support.

It is very rewarding putting on an event - I would recommend it to anyone. Watching folk suffer is nicer than suffering oneself!