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Great Turnout for Tour Of The Lakes Despite The Weather

posted 17 Jul 2011, 09:01 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 18 Jul 2011, 07:16 ]
Despite a bad weather forecast predicting rain and strong north westerlys, a large turnout of over ninety participants descended on The Downs GAA Club on Sunday for the 2011 edition of the Tour Of The Lakes. 

Tom & Conor were in charge for the day and had everything in place for sign-on at 9am.  The Downs GAA Club kindly played host for the event and their splendid facilities were very welcome, both before and after the event.  Following a short briefing, delivered by Conor, the riders broke up into three groups and went off at short intervals behind the respective lead cars with a choice of a 110km or a shorter 95km route ahead of them.

A strong tail-wind took the particpants quickly down the R156 to Killucan and on to Raharney.  Once the groups turned left in Raharney, conditions got a lot tougher with a strong headwind to contend with all the away over to the N52, on to Drumcree, Collinstown, Fore, Castlepollard, Coole to Lismacaffrey.  The left turn in Lismacaffrey brought a welcome respite from the gale-force winds and even more welcome was the refreshment break at Streete Community Centre.

After the break, it was back on the bikes for the second leg.  The conditions were less of a problem by now as the wind was in the riders' favour and thankfully the rain stayed off with only the odd squib of drizzle to contend with.

From Streete it was on to Rathowen, left on to the N4 and the strong tailwind whipped the three groups along at pace through Ballinalack.  Where usually they would start preparing for the Col-de-Bunbrosna, a left tutn off the N4 took the riders uphill and across country along a high ridge through Leney and Lacken with its fantastic views to the left across North Westmeath and then down the long tree-lined sweep into the picturesque village of Multyfarnham.

As everyone who ever rode a bike through Multyfarnham knows, there's no way out of the village without going up a hill.  Sunday was obviously no exception and true to Tour of The Lakes tradition, it was up Ballindurrow Hill (better known in Wheelers circles as piggery hill) and down to the N4 at The Covert in Ballinafid.  In previous editions of this event, reaching this point on the route used to be a sign that you ere nearly home but not this year.  

After a short re-visit to the N4 it was left again and down through Ballinagall and over to Donnelly's cross where it was decision time.  Anyone doing the longer 110km route took a left and headed on to Crookedwood, where they then took a right up a sharp climb and across the testing narrow roads to Crookedwood House and back to Crazy Corner. 

Those who opted for the shorter 95km route went directly to Crazy corner and Cloughan from Donnelly's corner.

The 110km pilgrims headed back to Killucan again from Cloughan and faced the headwind for the final leg back to The Downs.  Those taking the shorter route had a somewhat easier final leg, turning right just a mile from Cloughan at Drummond cross and back the short trip to The Downs.

Hot food - thanks to Noel Kennedy of Oscars - and hot showers - thanks to Peter and his colleagues in The Downs GAA club - were a very welcome reward for everyone who took part.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the 2011 Tour Of The Lakes, including the Wheelers racing team and other members who marshalled the route, drove lead and support vehicles, The Downs GAA Club and Streete Community Centre who made their facilities available for the day, to Noel in Oscars for the lovely hot food and of course to all the cyclists who took part and made the event a great success.

More pictures of the 2011 Tour Of The Lakes can be found here.