With the Giro d’Italia’s excursion in Ireland over the weekend, bike racing fever continues in Donegal this weekend in Mountcharles.
The Donegal Bay Cycling club are holding their Kermesse race in Mountcharles on Saturday May 17th.
Even though the race is only in it’s second year, the organisers are hoping for a large turn-out from all over the Northwest and further afield with quite a few rider’s likely to be fine-tuning their form in preparation for the upcoming Ras Dhun na nGall race in a few weeks time.
There will be two races on the day, an A race for A1/2/3/Junior category cyclist’s which is likely to feature some of the best up and coming cyclists in Ulster whilst the B race will cater to the A4 category cyclists who are newer to the sport. On a scorching hot day last year, the 2013 winners were Donegal cyclist Ronan McLaughlin who was then riding professionally for the An Post-Sean Kelly team and Charlie Gallagher of Errigal CC who won the A4 race.
Muff man McLaughlin will not be returning to defend his title this year as he will be starting the An Post RAS with the Donegal Team the following day. However he did take some time out from his busy schedule to talk about the Donegal Bay Kermesse and what he thinks of the race.
“Yeah I really enjoyed it last year, the weather was fantastic but I also really enjoyed the course, it was tough, technical, fast and really the type of course that suits me well with the long climb and fast descent”
Ronan was based in Belgium with the An Post-Sean Kelly team for most of his professional career and competed in many Kermesse type races on the continent. He gives an explanation of what Kermesse racing is all about.
“During the summer in Belgium there is a kermesse almost every day, if not 2/3/4 a day, a lot of the circuits are mainly flat and between 5-12km in length, they mostly do a lap around the outskirts of a village or town and have the start finish line in the town. They do differ quite a lot from the Donegal Bay Kermesse in the type of course but on the other hand they do have the same hard, fast and demanding racing nature that the Donegal Bay race has”
The main difference between the Donegal event and the typical Belgium version is the presence of a tough hill on the route which has to be climbed thirteen times and has been garnering a lot of attention from those interested in taking part. Just under a kilometre in length and with an average gradient of 8.3%, the hill will undoubtedly be the deciding factor in the race so anyone aiming for the win will need to make sure they bring their climbing legs with them. The hill will also be a great place for spectators to watch the cyclists struggle slowly by on the steep gradient.
Even though Ronan McLaughlin is missing out this year, he believes the kermesse will be a race that participants will really relish taking on:
“It is likely to be one of the most enjoyable races of the year, great course, great racing, great scenery and exceptional organisation”
The A race starts at 1pm on the Main Street of Mountcharles, heads out the Doorin line before turning left and descending the hill at Salthill. There are some great views across to Murvagh Beach and the Sligo mountains from here but the cyclists are unlikely to have much time for sight-seeing as they will require full focus on this narrow descent. Once down at the coast, they swing left and follow the road along the shore and past the pier. Depending on wind direction here, this section could have a big say in the race especially with the tough climb back up to the main street starting as soon as they leave the shore road. This lap has to be completed 13 times so 13 times up that lovely hill!!
The B race will have a similar but shorter route cutting across at Station Road each time instead of going back up to the Main Street. The B race starts at 10am. St.Nauls GAA ground will be race headquarters for the day where there will be parking, shower facilities and refreshments provided.
So if you missed out on the Giro or even if you got to see it, come along and enjoy what is likely to be a great day of Cycling in Mountcharles.