This year participants in the Westportif cyclists will have a choice of two different routes - an 80 km and a more challenging 160 km option. "The routes are similar to 2014, but are even more interesting", explains Race Director Padraig Marrey, "We've talked to a lot of participants from previous years and have tweaked the routes accordingly". Fittingly, both courses circumnavigate Croagh Patrick, living up to the "Ring of the Reek" name. The Westportif is part of the ŠKODA Cycle Series in association with Independent News & Media.
Proudly displaying the new Westportif 2015 routes are (from left:) John Hughes (Western Lakes Cycling Club), Brian Golden (Western Lakes Cycling Club), Anthony Harrison (Covey Wheelers), David Monaghan (Monaghan Skoda) and John Feerick (INM).
Photo: Liz King
The popular 80km route is reasonably flat and is very suitable for novice and family cyclists. It hugs the scenic Clew Bay coastline to Louisburgh but this year continues straight on to Killeen village before looping back inland. With views of Clare and Inishturk Islands and the famous beaches of Silver and White Strands this is panoramic cycling at its best. Cyclists then turn inland through spectacular Doo Lough Valley to Delphi and the lovely Aashleigh Falls. The return to Westport is via the Erriff Valley on the main road.
The 160km cyclists will begin with the others, but turn right at Aashleigh towards Leenane village, along Killary Fjord then inland through the Inagh Valley to Recess and Maam Cross before heading back to Westport via Lough Mask and Tourmakeady. Just as the final 30 km begins, Lally's Mountain provides a testing sting in the tail. This is a much hillier route with six categorised climbs. It is also a magnificently scenic route which is particularly attractive to cyclists from abroad.
Both routes are fully supported with water and food stops along the way. These will be separate for each cycle group.
This is the third year of the hugely successful Westportif which attracted over 800 cyclists lastyear and is confidently expected to top the 1,200 mark this year. Race Director Padraig Marry on behalf of Western Lakes CC and Westport Covey Wheelers sees huge growth potential for the event, saying, "From the very first year Westportif proved to have a winning formula of a perfect town base and an incredible selection of superb cycling routes for different levels. Entries are increasing each year, with enquiries pouring in from all over Ireland and further afield. The level of support from organisations in the town has been exceptional." The charity partners are Mayo-Roscommon Hospice and the media partners are The Mayo News.
The event is just part of a weekend cycling festival which includes a family-friendly Bike Buffet on Friday, the ultra exciting Criterium Race around the closed streets of Westport Town Centre on Saturday evening, and a novel Garden Cycle on Sunday.
For further information on this outstanding leisure cycle see the webpage www.westportif.ie or find Westportif on Facebook. Entries are through Fit Magazine, www.fitmagazine.ie.