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Giant's Causeway Coast Sportive REVIEW

by Holly Blades

Words by Richard Laucht: I was promised great weather and a nice flat sportive to finish the season and signed up to the inaugural Giants Killer Sportive with a plan to ride as a bunch and complete the course in close to 7 hours...

This plan was questioned on the drive to Ballycastle on the Friday when we decided to go over part of the course shown on the elevation profile after 100 miles, and also served to answer the question of why would you have a feed stop about 10 miles from the finish - After the drive, the 7 hour estimate seemed like a terrible idea and the feed stop, the work of genius! 

Torr Head is not to be taken lightly - not that the 100 preceding miles were easy. With undulating terrain, breathtaking coastal views, quiet roads and friendly competitors the course was perfect. Indeed the event had been set up without fault and I made full use of all the facilities.

This included the Chain Reaction Cycles mechanic who replaced my front mech after coming to a halt at the foot of a hill to allow a farmer to take his cattle for a walk across the road, to then try and climb out of the valley in my top gear resulting in a crunching and snapping noise which threatened a premature end to my day.

Torr Head eventually loomed into view after a punishing 20 mile slog along the seafront into a building headwind. It comprises 5 climbs in quick succession each between 15-20% gradient. There seemed to be a variety of approaches to this section of the course with some hitting the first hill with gusto only to be caught out by the severity of the climbs and resorting to pushing the bike.  

With the previous days drive still etched in the memory I tried to maintain a reasonable tempo and battled on praying that each hill would be the last. The final descent back into Ballycastle was joyous, as the rain that had been holding off all day provided a refreshing soaking.

I finished having spent just under 8 hours on my bike (not counting the self inflicted mechanical) in an event which encompassed the very best of Northern Ireland.

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