Kelly gets ready for Castlecomer Challenge

A LEGEND of Irish cycling will take on some of Kilkenny’s most testing terrain this weekend.

A LEGEND of Irish cycling will take on some of Kilkenny’s most testing terrain this weekend.

Sean Kelly will be the special guest as Castlecomer cycling club Deenside Wheelers take the roads around the north of the county for their annual fund-raising cycle on Sunday.

The Castlecomer Challenge, which is now in its third year, will offer cyclists the chance to take on two different circuits across Kilkenny, Carlow and Laois. For beginners there is a 50km cycle, while hardier enthusiasts can try their hand at a 100km offering.

While getting the chance to cycle with Sean Kelly, all entrants will also be doing their bit for good causes. This year’s cycle will raise funds for the Carlow/Kilkenny HomeCare Team and the Castlecomer Day Centre. Already the Wheelers have high hopes of beating the target of the E5,000 they raised for charity last year.

The event has stepped through the gears and gathered pace in terms of popularity. In its first year the Challenge attracted close to 80 riders, a figure which more than trebled when more than 250 people took on the cycle last year. This time organisers are hoping to have somewhere between 300 and 500 cyclists take to the roads on Sunday morning.

Cyclists who tackle the 100km route will set off from the new home of the Erin’s Own GAA club, Canon Kearns Park, on the Ballycomey Road at 10am on Sunday. The challenge will bring the cyclists through three counties, leaving Castlecomer and heading into Killeshin and Carlow, Arles, Stradbally, Abbeyleix, Ballinakill and Ballyragget before returning to Castlecomer. There will be a food stop in Stradbally.

The 100km trip, a rolling route on excellent roads, has one significant climb, bringing cyclists from Ballyragget back to Castlecomer.

The 50km route starts at Canon Kearns Park at 11am. Cyclists will travel through Castlecomer and on to Killeshin, Carlow, Arles before heading for the Pedigree Corner and back into Castlecomer. The cycle will have a food stop in Arles. Described as a great route for newcomers to long distance cycles there is only one climb, which cyclists will encounter at The Rushes, some 15km from the finish.

Cyclists will be able to avail of facilities before, during and after the cycles. As well as mechanical support on the road, the Challenge will also feature signposting and lead car, together with full stewarding and marshalling. Refreshments for cyclists have been sponsored by Eurospar, Castlecomer.

The entry fee for Sunday’s Challenge is E23, which can be paid on the day. Cyclists without a Cycling Ireland Licence must pay an additional E2 to take out a one-day license.