A Question of Sportive: Your Guide to Summer Cycling Challenges

By We Love Cycling

If your competitive juices are flowing, then the sportive schedule is likely to be catching your eye right now; leaving winter training in your tracks, some spectacular cycling challenges await this summer.

From the rugged backdrop of the Donegal coast to the smooth closed circuit of Mondello Park, all four corners of Ireland will be jam-packed with cyclists galore. We give you the lowdown on the Irish cycling events you’ll want to mark on your 2022 calendar, and our top training tips to set you up for sportive action!

Škoda Celtic Series – May and July 2022

Embrace the beautiful counties of Galway and Clare with Škoda’s Celtic Series, promising a satisfying sportive for those taking part in these 80-160km challenges.

The Tour de Conemara, setting off on Saturday 28th May, will see participants travel through Conemara’s magnificent mountainous and coastal territory. Likewise, the Ring of Clare, offers the sights and sounds of the spectacular Loop Head Peninsula and the Shannon Estuary on Saturday 16th July.

For the latest news and updates on the series, check out tourdeconamara.ie and ringofclare.ie.

Tour de Burren – Saturday 18th June

Co. Clare’s 120-kilometre cycling ramble, which has in the past attracted the likes of Irish pro Sam Bennett, is regarded as one of the most enjoyable sportives on the west coast. Starting in the harbour village of Ballyvaughan, cyclists will experience the dramatic scenery of the Burren landscape, and its altogether friendly distance means it’s a lovely way to dip your toe into the competitive scene!

Organised by the local Burren Cycling Club, over 2,000 cyclists take part in the event each year. You can access more details on prices and tickets at tourdeburren.com.

Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra 555 – Friday 5th August

This premier 555-kilometre challenge, which starts and finishes in ‘the Cathedral town’, Letterkenny, comprises an exhilarating – if exhausting! – tour of majestic Co. Donegal. Spectacular views at every turn are very much par for the course, though this one is not for the faint-hearted; ex-pro Conor Dunne described the course as one of ‘the most challenging physical and mental battles of his life’.

If you’re feeling up for it, individual entry starts from €275 and you can find all of the info you’ll need at donegalultra555.com.

Mondello24 – Saturday 18th June

If you’re looking for a unique 24-hour endurance challenge, look no further than Mondello24, taking place on the Co. Kildare circuit typically associated with motor racing. While the thought of 1,440 minutes in the saddle won’t be to everyone’s taste, the group entry option means it’s an event for all levels of cyclists – and with a closed, smoothly surfaced circuit, there’s no oncoming traffic or pesky potholes to worry about!

Tickets for solo entry are available for €275 and you can find out all the details at mondellopark.ie.

Cycling Ireland Road National Series – March-August 2022

If you’re looking to test your skills against the best, then this five-stage series is the ultimate in Irish racing. Senior and Junior men and women will be venturing across the island, as the roads of counties Carlow, Limerick, Meath, Mayo and Down host instalments of the season-long contest.

Visit the Cycling Ireland – Road National Series website for everything you’ll need on dates and registration – and by becoming a member of Cycling Ireland, you’ll have exclusive access to event discounts and even more.

Top training tips for preparing for a cycling challenge

Whether you’re an experienced cycling enthusiast or new to the endurance cycling scene, you’ll need to make sure you’re well prepared to be pushed to great limits with our top training tips…

  1. Get your kit ready

From a well-lubed chain and the perfect handlebar adjustments to the right gear to keep the elements at bay, your day in the saddle can be a lot more comfortable with some smart preparation. Form habits during your training – like looking after your bike and logging your kit from rides where you were hot/cold/just right – and if you’re a beginner, check out our top recommended bike maintenance tutorials.

  1. Create and stick to a bespoke training plan

Sticking to a solid and regular training plan will help to prepare you physically for any endurance challenge. The Cycling Ireland Training Hub offer bespoke cycling-specific training sessions. You could also join a local cycling club – the sense of community can bring a social element to your training!

  1. Fuel and hydrate your body

It’s important to be fuelling yourself with the right food for your cycling needs. Whether it’s pre-workout, race day or recovery, understanding nutrition will optimise your performance in the saddle. Electrolyte drinks and energy bars are great for carbohydrate intake on the day, but don’t get too tempted by all the goodies at every fuel station – stick to a plan that works for you!

You can find even more useful training tips courtesy of Tour de France winner Andy Schleck who chatted to us about cross-training, nutrition and hydration.