Experienced cyclist and winner of various Kerry, Munster and all-Ireland titles, Conor Kissane takes us through the cycle stages for Quest 12 (147km).
Starting from Sneem your first 4 km is uphill at 3%. The gradient here is very consistent so maintaining a consistent pace is the fastest way to the top, this is followed by a short 2km section of downhill at a similar gradient to give some respite before the road kicks up again for roughly 2km at a slightly steeper average of 4%, again this is very consistent so riding at a steady pace is best. There is then a fast 4km downhill run into the crossroads for the main climb of this leg, Ballaghbeama.
From the cross it is 7.5km to the top but a gentle introduction can be misleading as the sting in the tail comes at the very end. The first 3km are best described as rolling as the road twists and turns. The real testbegins 4.5km out, averaging 5% makes this a 3rd category climb. The road gradually gets steeper before the final 1000m which kick up to 10% average and max out at 15%, ensuring you work hard before heading down the other side.
Take care on the descent down to Glencar, the surface is good but sharp bends can catch you out. From Glencar we head uphill again albeit at only 2% for 5.5km. Then down to the final surprise. The climb to Lisliebane. Turning right the road rolls for a few km until you cross a bridge before taking a left turn where the road kicks up again. From here it is 1.1km to the top at an average of 8%. The gradients hit 20% around a sharp left bend with around 300m to go and from here the gradient does not drop below 10% ensuring your legs are well fired up for the run to the top of Carrauntoohil!
S3 – Carrauntoohil to Waterville, 49km
Stage 3 starts from Lisliebane and follows the stage 1 roads back as far as Glencar in the opposite direction. From Glencar continue heading south east and up Dreenagh, a 3km climb at 3%, the first half of this climb, with gradients hitting 7-8% is much steeper than the second half which drags on at just under 2%, this is however just a warm up for what is to come, Ballaghisheen pass.
The short 1.6 km climb is spectacular, averaging 9% but kicking up to 17% as you round the switchbacks at the top of the climb. From here you have a fast and technical descent before the road levels off for the 15km run into Waterville. The elevation continues to drop but at a very low rate and dead Kerry roads with an open landscape make for a challenging end to this stage.
S5 – Waterville to Derrynane, 14km
The final bike leg of the race poses one last challenge, the climb of Coomakista, along the Ring of Kerry route. Shortly after leaving Waterville the road begins to rise yet again, 5.7 km at a consistent 3% average must be tackled before a sweeping descent down to Derrynane, where you can take opportunity to fuel up for the final long trail run to the finish line.
Quest 12/24 takes place on 31st August 2019, limited places remain. You can find out more information here.