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Record Numbers for Tour of the Lakes

posted 16 Jul 2012, 14:11 by Kevin Monaghan   [ updated 16 Jul 2012, 14:12 ]

Arthur leads in the troops to Streete Community CentreAfter the hugely successful running of the National Criterium Championships and the Mullingar Two Day, two weeks ago it was time for the leisure side of the club to come to the fore. The Tour Of The Lakes is a very popular sportive which we have been running for years. This year we had a record number of over one hundred and fifty signing on from clubs from all over the midlands and the indeed the rest of the country.  Well done to all who took part on the very challenging routes of 95Km and 105Km in mostly dry but windy conditions. 

A special mention must go to everybody who helped out on the day and over the past few weeks to make the event a huge success. Particular thanks to the those from the racing membership within the club who stepped up to the mark when they were called upon. Thanks also to the Director Sportif for helping me with the Goody bags; I think we'd be still doing them now if she didn’t help out!  Without doubt we had the two best facilities at our disposal in the Streete community centre and The Downs GAA centre for which we are extremely grateful. Finally thanks to Noel Kennedy from Oscars Restaurant for the fantastic pasta that was waiting for all the riders on completion. Please Read on for an excellent report on the event from Joe Duffy...

Group Two setting off"In recent years Ireland has experienced an explosion of interest in cycling and leisure cyclists now have no shortage of choice when it comes to finding a good challenge. One such challenge was the “Tour of the Lakes” which took place in the heart of Ireland on Sunday last July15th. Set in the Lakeland district around the rolling hills of north Westmeath approximately two hundred participants enjoyed a great cycle on a mild summer’s day with only the odd shower to contend with.

For an entry fee  of only €15 each rider was provided with full back up, tea/coffee & refreshments at half way, showers and beautiful hot pasta at the finish, in addition to a goodie bag which included a bicycle tube, energy bar and sweat band. Not bad value in these recessionary times.

Starting from The Downs GAA club house, located four miles east of Mullingar, the enthusiastic leisure cyclists made their way through the north Westmeath villages of Killucan, Raharney, Fore, Castlepollard, Coole, Lismacaffrey and back through the picturesque tidy town of Multyfarnham.

The locally based Lakeside Wheelers cycling club, organised the event which allowed participants to choose one of three groups to cycle in, catering for a fast, medium or relaxed pace . Designated group leaders ensured an even pace which allowed for a very social feel to the event as everyone got the chance to chat their neighbor’s while rotating up and over in the peloton. Each group stayed together as a unit until the customary gallop in the last few miles. 
The Mullingar club have gained a reputation for nurturing newcomers to the sport and they continued their good work by having a 30k option for beginners which started at 12 o’clock and attracted 40 participants who were looked after by Westmeath Sports Partnership staff.

The lake county has a number of larger lakes such as Lough Ennell , Lough Owel, Lough Derravaragh and Lough Lene but they also have a plethora of smaller lakes nestled among the drumlins of this beautiful county.
There is some wonderful folklore relating to this part of the country and all along the route the images of these tales of old, are to be found. The hamlet of Fore is a beautifully maintained village which boasts of the “Seven Wonders of Fore” where Saint Fechin founded a Benedictine monastery during the seventh century and the well preserved ruins are still standing. Water flowing up hill, the tree which won’t burn and water which won’t boil, are just three of the more popular wonders which attract’s many visitors to the area. Well, water may flow up a hill but I can tell you us cyclists struggled to make it up the steep hill out of this lovely little village.

Lough Derravaragh is nestled between Castlepollard, Multyfarnham and Crookedwood, and we are led to believe it was home to the “Children of Lir” for four hundred years. Legend has it that Aoife, the wife of King Lir, was a jealous step mother who cast a spell on her four step children and turned them into swans. They survived four centuries on the lake before they were returned to human form. Now I can’t say for sure what the normal life span of a swan is but 400 years seems a long, long time.

After taking in all the local history the cyclists had a welcome break for tea, coffee and refreshments in the wonderfully appointed Streete Community Center. It’s amazing the difference a twenty minute break can make in the middle of a 100km cycle.  Refreshed, you are back up on the bike again with renewed energy for the rest of the journey. 

The climb up Carrick hill was a real back breaker but it was worth it to experience the panoramic views of the Westmeath country side.  We then dropped down into the beautiful Village of Multyfarnham before tackling the steep and testing Piggery Hill. 

Aches began to kick in during the last 10 to 15 miles as we made our way back to base so it was a welcome sight to turn the final corner and see the The Downs GAA club house again. This fantastic community facility was a welcome haven with hot showers, delicious pasta provided by Oscars Restaurant, and we rounded it off with tea/coffee  and a selection of biscuits and buns. 

This event is not widely advertised but it is a real gem with a large contingent from the local cycling club and supported by the neighbouring clubs from around the midlands. Definitely this is one to put in the dairy for next year."

The Ladies ready for the off at the 2012 Tour Of The Lakes
The Ladies ready for the off at the 2012 Tour Of The Lakes