Pictured at the launch of the Marble City Cyclers Tour de Kilkenny were Liam Walsh, JJ O’Flynn, Paddy Kelly, Pauline Sparling , Betty Byrne Joe Griffin , Seamus Gladney, Tommy Lanigan and Mick Battle
Unlucky 13? Not if you’re the Marble City Cyclers, who welcomed the return of their Tour de Kilkenny sportive to the cycling calendar.
The popular event has been pencilled in for a 2022 comeback after the coronavirus-enforced postponements of the last two years.
This year’s event, which will be held on July 30, will be the 13th offering of what has become one of the highlights on the Cycling Ireland calendar. It is expected that over 700 cyclists will descend on Kilkenny Rugby Club for an early morning start which will lead people over many parts of the county.
The Tour is a hit both in the county and nationally - local clubs Kells Angels, Callan CC, Deenside Wheelers, Kilkenny Triathlon Club and Kilmacow CC are great supporters of the occasion, which also attracts regular visitors from Kerry, Cavan, Monaghan, Galway, Wexford, Dublin and many other parts of Ireland.
While the sportive contributes to the local economy, with many participants making it a family weekend in the city, the Tour has also been a significant fundraiser for local charities, raising close to six figures for a wide variety of local good causes.
This year the recipients will be the Samaritans, Amber Women’s Refuge, Irish Pilgrimage Trust, Thomastown Men’s Shed and WaterGarden and Tullogher Community Group.
Volunteers from each of these organisations will help to marshal and feed the cyclists en route. In turn, they will earn valuable funds for their organisations.
As is tradition, the Tour de Kilkenny offers cyclists a choice of three routes for a fee of €40. This fee covers the cost of food and route marshalling as well as providing a large contribution to each charity.
The 160km route is considered by the experts as one of the most challenging cycles on the sportive calendar, attracting a host of hardy cyclists. Many find to their surprise that Kilkenny is anything but a flat county - veteran routemaker Brendan O’Reilly has managed to find lots of challenging ascents!
The 77km route takes cyclists from Kilkenny to Gowran and Goresbridge, on to Graignamanagh and Thomastown before returning to Kilkenny via Knocktopher. This route is for cyclists with a reasonable level of fitness. Refreshments will be available at the car park near the top of Coppenagh.
The 120km route follows the same path from Kilkenny to Gowran, Goresbridge and Graignamanagh before heading for Inistioge, Listerlin and Mullinavat before returning to Kilkenny. This route is quite challenging and a good level of cycling fitness is required. The 120 km route tackles several steep climbs at Coppenagh, Woodstock, Brownsford and Listerlin. The main food-stop is located in Listerlin before riders head back to Kilkenny from Mullinavat.
The longest route, the 160km Tour, travels from Kilkenny to Gowran, moving on to Borris and Graignamanagh before heading to Inistioge, Listerlin, Mullinavat, Templeorum, Kilmoganny, Callan and Kilmanagh before heading back to Kilkenny.
One for the hardened cyclists, the climbing continues from Mullinavat over Ballygowan to Piltown, then tackles the 7.5km climb of Templeorum, a 3km climb over Kilmoganny to the Slate Quarries and North to Kilmanagh via Callan. The final sting after 150km of tough cycling is a short but very steep climb over Ballykeeffe before a descent and flat route back to Kilkenny Rugby Club, where the pasta party at the end will be very welcome.
To sign up for the Tour de Kilkenny visit eventmaster.ie. The website tourdekilkenny.com has a wealth of useful information about the event and about the demands and needs of sportive cycling. There is plenty of time to get fit and ready for the Tour. The Marble City Cyclers are running beginners/back to cycling evenings every Monday at 7pm, starting from Lahart’s Garages.
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