VIC route reviewed

Cyclo-touring the OLDVELOS Vintage International Classic


BANG! The explosion echoed around the Gap.  Heads turned, ponies ears pricked, birds soared, rabbits ran and I looked down at my exploded tube in dismay (and embarrassment).  I had had a bad feeling about this.  I had picked up a lovely set of wheels recently with Wolber ‘gentleman’ rims and Campagnolo ‘record’ hubs.  Unusually I thought for a narrow French rim the tyres were 27 x 1½ metric inches.  Unusual maybe but a perfect addition for touring the OLDVELOS route on my 1955 Gordon.

Recon 001

With only 5 weeks to go to the Vintage International Classic in Killarney on the 13th of September I wanted to reconnoitre the route.  Loading the pannier as lightly as possible – an impossibility – I took off from Killarney and pressed the start button on my Strava ‘app’ to record the route, altitudes and, no doubt, slow average speed.   It was only a few hundred yards down the road that I noticed a rub in the rear wheel.  The tyre was bulging.  Refitting the tyre I reset Strava and rode on.  It bulged again within minutes.  Thankfully I was still in Killarney and seeing the tyre was slightly perished I sought to purchase a replacement –  a rare commodity it would appear.  The problem persisted and with the help of O’Sullivan cycles we overcame the problem with resolve and determination.  This will not defeat us and I set the Strava app again.

Now, just at the bottom of those wicked bends in the Gap of Dunloe, I felt that familiar rub.  Looking down I spied the inner tube squeezing itself out between tyre and rim.  I jumped off, but before I could even get my fingers to the valve it exploded in front of my disbelieving eyes.  My ears however could not unhear the calamity.  Now with my panniers on the ground, a gashed inner tube, some ill-fitting spares and foreboding clouds I weighed up my options.  I knew the tyre could/did fit properly, if only I could get my spare tubes to sit.  Come on, I used be a bike mechanic.  Eventually after exhausting all options I resorted to gluing the exploded tube with those fabulous vulcanic patches and, following a decade of the rosary, summited the Gap of Dunloe.  The adventure at the base of the climb did however avert my thoughts of my 44×26 lowest gear.  Sadly, I also forgot to turn Strava back on.  So you’ll just have to believe me that I did ride up it, through the Black Valley, past Lough Brin and around and back up Beallach Beama.   You don’t? Well check out the photos so – what a lovely route – though as I spent most of the time double checking my tyre I have to rely on them too!

Recon 006

After overnighting in Glencar, I then set my sights on Lough Carragh.  This was virgin territory for me.  Wow, it’s beautiful and the early miles will provide cyclists with some time to stretch their muscles and straighten their minds in preparation for some later climbing.  Our route hugs the western shore of the lake and while there are some darting inclines the views from the descents are fabulous – but don’t avert your eyes too much from the roads.  As we are riding Carragh lake in a loop riders are in for a real delight on the lesser known roads of the eastern shore.  Especially those riders who remember themselves as Robert Millar, Lucho Herrera maybe, or even Charly Gaul.  I do hope some of your fans (family members) take the time to write your names in chalk across the corners of Ard na Sidhe.  Our friends at Irish Corner on Alpe d’Huez needn’t wait till corner 10.  Corner 1 should suffice!

Recon 004

All this does however reward you with a great sense of achievement, some interesting roads, climbs and descents resulting in a return to Glencar and our food station at the Rowan Tree pub in Glencar.  If you were to reimagine our one day cycle remembering the Nissan International Classic as a three stage event well then the return road on the ‘Board of Works’ road from Glencar to Killarney should reprise that Classic time trial from Carrick-on-Suir to Clonmel.  Even with panniers, a tyre that might explode at any minute, a bum sore from a brooks saddle and a top gear of 48×14 I found the final leg a flyer.  I imagine the road will provide welcome relief to you vintage cyclists on your final leg back into Killarney and Randles Brothers Nissan Dealership, who, I am pleased to announce, are supporting our OLDVELOS event and your Vintage International Classic on Sunday 13th September in Killarney. If you have any questions about this event please post them on our forum

– Brendan Hennessy

Gap 001

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