Kildare's Galway Cycle retains its magic

Cycling column

Conor McHugh


Conor McHugh


Kildare's Galway Cycle retains its magic

View of Conor McHugh from above midway through the Galway Cycle Picture: Patrick Thomas Photography

It’s the Tuesday morning after the Galway Cycle and, not unusually, I’m coming down with something, a chesty nuisance that will likely ruin my cycling plans for the weekend.

Or not, we’ll see how the over-the-counter lotions and potions get on.

The weekend was great.

The important bit is that we raised €51,000 and counting for Vision Sports Ireland, which is a huge deal for that charity and for the people it helps to introduce to sport.

In fact, somebody with impaired vision who has excelled in sport is Katie George Dunlevy who is the current double world and Paralympic champion (with current Irish champion Eve McCrystal), and she joined us on the cycle on both days.

She and her partner thoroughly enjoyed the craic over the weekend, and it was a huge honour to have her there.

We’re lucky in that the paralympic team and the Galway Cycle share the wonderful Tommy McGowan.

He’s their manager and our mechanic, and the nicest man you’ll meet in many’s a day’s walk.

Friday was a great day with the wind behind us.

The weather forecast the night before was shocking, with heavy and prolonged rain for at least the first half of the day.

But in the end, the light breeze helped — or should I say, the lightness of the breeze.

It was an easterly wind, but it was only about 10kph, whereas we averaged almost 26kph the whole way down.

And Strava says I broke all sorts of records on the way.

Of the 60 Strava segments along the way, I broke 21 PB’s and got another 20 seconds and thirds.

The 194.57kms were completed in 7 hours 36 minutes with an average of 25.6 kph and a max of 48.6 (which was achieved on the descent into Tyrrellspass).

We had four breaks, as usual, in Kinnegad, Moate, Ballinasloe and Loughrea.

The first and last are about 20 minutes long and the middle two are more like a proper hour.

We had a good food crew as well as an excellent support crew with vans and lorries bringing bags to each stop and providing them over the course of the weekend.

The way back was a different story.

It was still dry, but the wind was still easterly and it started to get considerably stronger. And as the day wore on it got stronger again.

That being said we only added a few more minutes, with a total of 7 hours 4 minutes with an average of 25.3kph.

The result was a lot of people heading for the bus and yours truly ending the weekend a bit shook.

Hence the tickle in the throat and a general sense of being run down, although it’s probably a combination of all of the above, and the entire weekend where, despite best efforts, sleep was not really prioritised.

Still, it’s 400kms in the bag over the weekend, and most of the time on the road (80%) was spent in Zone 2 for me which is 113 to 149 beats per minute.

If I’d known at the start of the year that I’d get to that level of fitness, I’d be happy enough — and if this bloody tickle in my throat were to bugger off I’d be even happier.

The Galway Cycle was my introduction to cycling and remains, for my money, the best fun and best organised event on the calendar.

And for that reason alone I’d recommend that anyone should give it a go, whether 100kms is no bother to you, or 100 metres sounds a bit too far.