Fancy a challenge for 2020? Have a go at some of Ireland’s best known cycling sportives featuring 40km to 200km route options…
There’s nothing quite like going for a cycle ride with up to 10,000 like-minded folk. Sportives are a great way to discover new cycling routes in a non-competitive environment while putting your fitness to the test. And with cycling booming in Ireland right now, there’s hundreds of events to choose from each year and one closer to you than you think.
A non-competitive event — not a race — sportives are short-to-long distance organised cycle rides with sometimes up to 10,000 cyclists entered. Taking place most weekends across the length and breadth of the country, signing up to a sportive can be a great way to ride a new route without having to plan every twist and turn on googlemaps, while also completing some fitness goals.
Although once again we’re emphasising on the phrase “it’s not a race”, a sportive follows a similar format to that of a competition. There’s an entry fee, riding numbers provided, strict route with strict starting times and time allowance to complete it.
Marshals are generally on hand for road crossings and you’ll find food and drink stations along the way. Roads are open to regular traffic so the highway codes apply and helmets are mandatory. Very much a social occasion, you can treat them as serious or as fun as you like and for many finishing is winning.
Here’s a look at some of the best known sportives in Ireland (not yet sold out) to tackle in 2020…
Cliffs of Moher Cycle Challenge
- Where: Ennistymon, Co. Clare
- When: 4th April
- Routes: 40km, 80km & 125km
- Facebook: Cliffs of Moher Cycle Challenge
Taking place in the north end of Clare, the Cliffs of Moher Cycle Challenge was shortlisted for Cycling Ireland’s leisure event of 2019. With three routes to choose, the 125-kilometre passes all the major landmarks – Cliffs of Moher, Doolin, Lahinch, Lisdoonvarna and Fanore with a near 50/50 mix of coastal and inland roads. The event is limited to 1000 participants so early registration is key. Although the first major sportive of 2020 in early April, it might just become the highlight of your year.
- Where: Dingle, Co. Kerry
- When: 25th April
- Routes: 55km & 120km
- Website: www.ridedingle.com
Hard to believe this was 2 months ago 😲 What a day we had
Posted by Ride Dingle on Friday, 28 June 2019
Another opportunity to turn some early-year wheels, Ride Dingle is a cracking way to start off your 2020 season. Starting and finishing in Dingle, Kerry, it’s a ride filled with breathtaking scenery and some iconic landmarks. The first part of the route takes in the 55-kilometre Slea Head peninsula. World famous, it’s home to locations like Dunqin Pier, Coumeenoole Beach and scenery that’s a treat for Star Wars fans. With no major climbs, it’s a stunning and fairly easy opening 55km. Once back to Dingle, things get serious as riders tackle Conor Pass – Ireland’s highest mountain pass and one of the most famous and difficult climbs in Ireland. An amazing descent drops you to Camp before climbing back out on the home stretch back to Dingle. The 120km route covers 1695m of climbing.
- Where: Bray, Co. Wicklow
- When: 7th June
- Routes: 100km & 200km
- Website: www.wicklow200.ie
Entering its 39th edition, the Wicklow 200 is regarded by many as Ireland’s premier cycling challenge. The Daddy of Irish sportives, the Wicklow 200 offers a real challenge with 100km and 200km routes around Wicklow. The tough climbs are rewarded by spectacular scenery and for any serious sportive cyclists, ticking the Wicklow 200 off your bucket list is a must-do.
Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
- Where: Ballycastle, Co. Antrim
- When: 20th June
- Route: 56km, 97km, 137km & 185km
- Website: www.giantscausewaycoastsportive.com
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive offers cyclists a choice of four routes through an incredible landscape steeped in myth and legend along the spectacular Causeway Coast and through the Glens of Antrim. Game of Thrones fans will love the ride through the Dark Hedges, while other notable landmarks include Bushmills, Torr Head Road climb plus some of the best scenery the North Coast has to offer. For the hardy and brave, the 187km route will offer serious cyclists a lung-busting challenge with thrilling descents that will ensure a day to remember.
Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle
- Where: Killarney, Kerry
- When: 4th July
- Route: 175 kilometres
- Website: www.ringofkerrycycle.ie
Ireland’s largest one-day charity event, the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle is open to 6,500 cyclists for 2020. This year marks the 37th edition of the event, which takes in all 175 kilometres of the spectacular Ring of Kerry, while at the same time fundraising for worthy Kerry based charities. The event starts and finishes in Killarney.
Skoda Ring of Clare
- Where: Ennis, Co. Clare
- When: 18th July
- Routes: 120km & 160km
- Website: www.celticseries.ie
Sign up for the ŠKODA Tour de Conamara and the ŠKODA Ring of Clare together and you are well on your way to become a Triple Crown Cyclist in 2020.
Posted by Celtic Series on Monday, 30 December 2019
Stop two (of three) of the Skoda Celtic Series, the Skoda Ring of Clare Cycle sportive starts in Ennis and has two route options of 160km and 120km. The event takes in some of Clare’s best known local cycling landmarks. Cyclists will cruise along the Wild Atlantic Way, travel through the international tourism award winning Loop Head peninsula and along the Shannon Estuary waters and the new Wild Atlantic Way Estuary Loop. A grandstand SKODA finish will be waiting for cyclists and the renowned Clare welcome. The Ring of Clare Cycle sportive event attracted over 2,500 cyclists to Clare in 2019 and was full with four weeks to go.
Skoda Tour de Boyne Valley
- Where: Drogheda, Co. Louth
- When: 29th August
- Routes: 100km & 150km
- Website: www.celticseries.ie
The Skoda Tour de Boyne Valley starts in Drogheda, Co. Louth and offers two routes — 100km and 150km. Cyclists will head out the coast road north of Drogheda through Termonfeckin and Clogherhead before heading inland. The event passes close to some of The Boyne Valley historic monuments while offering a great day out on the bike. We rode it in 2019 and had an absolute blast. One seriously impressive, slickly run, professional sportive, the added touches of goodie bags, event photos, a banquet-style food stop, water stations and post ride massage will have us returning for 2020.
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Now that's a lot of bikes! Up to 1500 riders roll out for the final stop of the 2019 @skodacelticcycleseries. . The Tour de Boyne Valley saw 150km of Louth & Meath's finest roads filled with all manner and mean of cyclists for the day. . Curious, we tagged along for the ride on our first sportive. Check our IG Story highlights for more. 🔹️ #skoda #skodawelovecycling #celticcycleseries #boynevalley #newgrange #cycling #cyclingireland #roads #sportive #sportives #freewheelin #2wheels1passion
Great Dublin Bike Ride
- Where: Dublin
- When: late September
- Routes: 60km & 100km
- Website: www.greatdublinbikeride.ie
🚴 Check out our highlights video of this year’s Great Dublin Bike Ride. We hope everyone who took part enjoyed the day!✅ Pre-Register NOW for Great Dublin Bike Ride 2020 to be guaranteed your entry into next year’s event.📝 All you have to do is leave your name and email in link below and we will contact you just before entries open!www.greatdublinbikeride.ie/preregisterSport Ireland Cycling Ireland Dublin City Council
Posted by Great Dublin Bike Ride on Thursday, 3 October 2019
The Great Dublin Bike Ride usually takes place at the end of September. With two routes to choose from – 60km and 100km – the ride takes you from Phoenix Park in the heart of Dublin city past Portmarnock and as far north as Naul, returning through Ashbourne and Blanchardstown before arriving back to Phoenix Park. If you’ve ever wanted to experience what a traffic-less, bicycle only Dublin would feel like, this ones for you. Up to 7,000 cyclists are expected to take part.
Carlingford Loop Sportive
- Where: Newry, Co. Down
- When: 10th October
- Route: 62km
- Website: www.loopsportive.com
Here it is everyone. The 2018 Scenic Carlingford Ferry LOOP Sportive official video. Tag your friends and share……. Great memories of a great day out. Scenic Carlingford Ferry Mourne Mountains Brewery Velo Club Mourne Rooney Fish. NEWRY BID Visit Carlingford Visit Mourne Mountains Newry, Mourne and Down District Council 26 Extreme
Posted by The Carlingford Loop Sportive on Sunday, 25 November 2018
Possibly the only sportive to feature a ferry crossing midway, and (once Brexit kicks in) sees you ride both in and out of the EU! Short and relatively flat, it’s an ideal event to dip a toe into sportives. Participants will take on a 62km route around the scenic shores Carlingford Lough starting and finishing in the Albert Basin, Newry. The route will follow the coastline from Newry to Greenore through the picturesque villages of Omeath and Carlingford. The Scenic Carlingford Ferry will provide a crossing from Greenore to Greencastle. Cyclists will continue their coastal route around the outskirts of Kilkeel, through Rostrevor and Warrenpoint before finishing in Newry. With bacon butty food stops plus beer and pizza at the finish, there’s lots to like!
New For 2020
What: Great Belfast Bike Ride
Rumoured on the grapevine for 2020 is a ‘Great Belfast Bike Ride’. Expected to follow a similar format to that of the Great Dublin Bike ride, plans are currently underway in partnership with Belfast City Council, Cycling Ireland and Cycling Ulster. Stay tuned for information in early 2020.