An Ulster August
Pól Ó Muirí
Great excitement across the water in British cycling with the launch of the Sky team in time for the new professional season. Bradley Wiggins – Wiggo – the great British Olympian is on board for Sky and there is talk of his winning the Tour de France. You would have to feel a little sorry for Irish cycling in comparison. While there are a number of very good cyclists, there is not the same buzz about the sport at the moment – which is not the say there is no buzz. Cycling is very popular where I live and there are very few days I would not see a lone cyclist or a small peloton on the roads. Indeed, I was talking to a fellow recently who remarked, wistfully, that he used to race against Philip Deignan, aka Letterkenny Lightning, the Irish man who finished in the top 10 of last year’s Vuelta in Spain.
For most of us, grand tours and classics are fantasies. That is not to say that you could not set yourself a wee target if, like me, you are a weekend warrior on the bike. The date for this year’s Lap the Lough has been set for Sunday 29th August. The lap is 87miles/140km around Lough Neagh and is not a race but a sportive. It is very enjoyable. I did it last year for the first time – raging against the dying of my athletic light and would highly recommend it. Don’t panic – entries are not open until May of this year which gives you plenty of time to train. The course is very flat for the most part, very picturesque (if you can spare the oxygen to look at the scenery) and is well worth the effort. So, yes, it’s January and it’s dark and dismal but think August, think Ulster.