In May, the world’s top professional riders will take to the roads of Ireland for the start of the Giro d’Italia. Two weeks later, over the Bank Holiday weekend of My 24-26, it will be the turn of regular riders when the three-day Curadmír Ulster Cycle heads into the hills of Northern Ireland on what organisers say is designed to be toughest route in the British Isles.
A fully supported multi-stage sportive, the ride covers 360 miles in three days through some of the wildest and most remote terrain in Ulster.
Riders can enter as teams or individuals but organisers expect they will work together to complete the event rather than treat it as a competition (sounds a bit optimistic to us).
The route promises great scenery including the 700m ascent of the Mourne Mountains, the Giant’s Causeway, Ireland’s most northerly point at Malin Head, the Mamore Cap with hairpin gradients of 27%, and the Fermanagh Mountains, where the final hilltop finish will overlook Lough Erne.
The event will have a rolling base camp, with rider villages providing facilities including: tents with mattresses, premium catering, hot showers, physio and massage services and a mechanics’ tent. In the evening riders will be able to relax and recover with comfy seating and live music in the chill-out marquee.
The name Curadmír, in case you’re wondering, means ‘Champion’s Portion’ – the feast awarded to the bravest warriors in the battles of ancient Ireland.
Entry to the Curadmír Ulster Cycle starts from £475 and is open now. If you get in quick, there’s an early bird price of £375 until midday on Monday February 17. See www.curadmir.com for more information.
If the pictures above aren't enough to whet your appetite, here's a wonderfully over-the-top video:
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.