CYCLING HAS BECOME incredibly popular in Ireland, both as a means of transport and as a leisure time pursuit. It can be part of your daily exercise routine, part of your commute or just something you do with your friends for fun.
But if you’ve gotten hooked on cycling, as many people tend to do, you are constantly looking for new routes and new challenges. Whether it is cycling the thousands of back roads around the country or the many scenic off-road trails — there is something for everyone in Ireland.
For those of you that are looking for something new, here are seven great cycling routes you should try this summer.
The 42km Great Western Greenway cycle route in County Mayo is the longest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland. It’s a traffic free trail which follows the route of the Westport to Achill railway line, which closed in 1937.
It’s predominantly flat and hugs the Atlantic Coast along Clew Bay. Almost entirely off-road, this route is particularly attractive to families and leisure cyclists.
Galway City to Spiddal is another spectacular route, cycling from the outskirts of Galway on the Clifden Road to Moycullen, you’ll see the Cliffs of Moher and if you’re lucky on a clear day you might even get to see the remote Aran Islands.
This is a lot shorter than some of our other routes on this list, at around 40km in total. This route suits all levels of cyclists. There is one reasonably difficult climb but once you’ve been through that it is plain sailing for the rest of your journey.
The trail itself is quite short, at just over 16km in length, but it is worth it for the beautiful Connemara landscape. It begins next to Lough Bofin and about halfway through it overlooks Lough Corrib. Some of the other highlights include views of the Maam valley and the Twelve Pins to the west.
For people looking for another, perhaps more challenging route, the Mourne Mountains are becoming an increasingly popular mountain biking destination. There are a number of cycle trails to choose from, such as the Rostrevor Route, which gives wonderful views of Rostrevor Forests, the Mountains and Carlingford Lough.
The Beara Peninsula is one of the more challenging cycles on this list but it’s worth it for the beautiful scenery around Kerry and Cork. There is no set start or finish point, so it caters to all level of cyclists, but it can be up to 195km — depending on what route you take.
Whatever distance you do decide on, make sure you include the Healy Pass in your plans. It offers some great views of Bantry bay and the Kenmare river.
This trail will certainly test your legs and climbing ability.
5. North West Cycle Trail, Co.Fermanagh/Tyrone (325km)
The North West Trail has some spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, with scenic cycling in remote uplands, through rural towns and villages and passing through the main towns of Enniskillen, Sligo, Donegal, Lifford and Strabane.
The trail is a 325km loop that takes in sights such as Castle Coole, the Marble Arch caves and the Ulster American Folk Park. But for those put off by the distance, there are shorter sections available.
The Kingfisher Cycle Trail is ideal for those looking for a real ‘off the beaten-track’ experience. It was the first long distance cycle trail in Ireland and travels through the border counties of Fermanagh, Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan.
The route begins with a cycle through the Wicklow countryside, past Glendalough and over the spectacular Wicklow Gap. Highlights include cycling beside Blessington Lake, a short climb up Sorrell Hill and another more testing climb to Ballinascorney.
Don’t miss your chance to get involved in some of Ireland’s best cycles this summer. An Post Cycle Series runs right through to September, with cycle routes catering for everyone from the serious amateur to the enthusiastic beginner. It’s a great way for family, friends and work colleagues to spend a day of fun together while the serious rider can follow a more challenging route.
Over 16,800 people took part last year and there are three more great events to take part in this summer.. You can join in on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July at the An Post Meath Heritage Cycle, with the Sean Kelly Tour in Waterford, on 22nd & 23rd August and An Post Rebel Tour in Cork, on 12th September. For more information on tips, events or how to get involved — find us on Facebook, Twitter or at our website.