Ireland’s Lough Derg will play host to a brand new mountain bike stage race dubbed ‘The Mountain Bike Challenge’, in April this year. The Loch will be the site for a two-day festival of cycling that will offer both recreational and competitive amateur mountain bike riders the race on four distinct stage courses around the villages of Killaloe and Ballina in the centre of the country.
The place on the weekend of the 9th and 10th of April, the main two-day, four-stage event will offer riders of all ages and abilities the chance to race on four different courses. Race organisers, Dolmen Sports, expect the event to attract local riders as well as competitors from overseas. The four stages of the event will include more than 1,200 metres of climbing across nearly 90 kilometres of trails, including a special six kilometre time trial for the final stage. The four stages include:
Stage 1 – East Clare Way – Saturday morning (28 kilometres)
Stage 2 – Tountinna – Saturday afternoon (26 kilometres)
Stage 3 – Slieve Bearnagh – Sunday morning (24 kilometres)
Stage 4 – Cragg Time Trial – Sunday afternoon (6 kilometres)
“Ireland lends itself perfectly to mountain biking. We have an abundance of rural routes, scenery like no place else and there’s a growing amount of people who want to get out on their bikes to enjoy it,” said Andrew Deakin from Dolmen Sports.
The event will offer riders in the stage event the chance to experience the mountain biking Ireland has to offer. Elite riders will enjoy two full days of competition, with the second day of the event also set to raise money for charity. The MS Ireland Sunday Cycle will offer less experienced mountain bikers the opportunity to enjoy the unique environment of the Ballycuggarrin Forest near Lough Derg, with proceeds from the day going to MS Ireland.
“This is a fantastic route in a spectacular part of the country. The course provides plenty of climbing, fast descents and spectacular views of Lough Derg and the surrounding area – for those who have the time to look,” said Biking.ie’s Niall Davis, who is also involved in organisation of the event. “It’s very exciting to be involved with an event like this. It’s a progressive concept and will provide a challenge for all participants from the elite rider to ‘weekend warriors’.”
Registration is open now, with the main Mountain Bike Challenge and MS Ireland Sunday Cycle costing €90 and €50, respectively. To register or for more information about the event visit www.mountainbikechallenge.ie.