Gravel Grind West takes over Westport this weekend

ONCE upon a time, cycling on bog roads and boreens was considered something only farmers did while out herding, checking on land or spending that dreaded day working in the bog. Fast forward to 21st century Ireland and many of those tracks and bog roads have now either closed in or become very overgrown.

Gravel Grind West taking place on September 17 and 18 in Westport, will bring the biggest gravel biking event of its kind ever to be held in the Republic of Ireland to Westport, the adventure capital of Ireland. Organisers have designed routes using local knowledge and Komoot a map tracking app for adventurers, the aim is to bring cycling back to its roots and cycle on the road less travelled.

With three different events of varying difficulty, fun and adventure to choose from, cyclists from all disciplines will find a route and challenge to enjoy over the Gravel Grind West weekend in Westport.

Enjoy stunning scenery, off road routes and an adventure at every turn in the inaugural Gravel Grind West, where participants will cycle on unique sections of routes unavailable outside of this exciting cycling event, guaranteeing a great adventure, exploration and fun for all.

On Friday, participants can whet their appetite for dust and descending with the gravel taster; The Skelp Blast, a 26k test against the clock that will give the beginner off-roader a chance to experience gravel biking first hand.

The more experienced rider can go at it hammer and tongs to power up the climb burning watts and legs to reach the top. Just as the sun sets on Clew Bay, riders will cross the finish line on top of Skelp after an exhilarating and fun cycling experience off the beaten track.

Saturday provides two route options, both achievable for the novice and experienced gravel rider. The Bothy 60k is perfect for those new to gravel, with the route broken down as follows: 40% of the route is using the Greenway, 25% on quiet back roads and 35% on gravel/fire track.

The Wild Nephin 100k as the name suggests is more suited to those who are seeking a challengingly wild adventure on two wheels into the heart of Wild Nephin National Park. This route offers riders a challenge that will test and excite them, making them hungry for more as they grind across the gravel towards the much anticipated finish line. The route features approximately 30k of Greenway, 20k by quiet back road and 50k on gravel of all types.

Partnering with the event this year are the Towers Bar and Restaurant Westport, Komoot outdoor activities tracking app, The Mariner Westport, Westport Bike Shop Ltd, Marrey Bikes, and Destination Westport.

Speaking about the event, Tom Bourke, of the Towers Bar and Restaurant, said: “It's great to see such a big entry considering its our first year, gravel biking by its very nature is cycling on unpaved roads, tracks and byways, it’s a great way to see and enjoy parts of the countryside that wouldn’t normally be available. It’s also very safe as you generally have the tracks and byways to yourself with only the odd sheep or deer for company.

“When participants finish we will be waiting here outside the Towers to hand them a beverage and a burger to help replenish their tired bodies.”

Fiola Foley, director of PR, Komoot, said: “Komoot is the route planning and navigation app of choice for over 20 million people worldwide and proud sponsor of the world’s top gravel cycling events. We are proud to support Gravel Grind West and hope that more and more Irish cyclist discover the freedom of gravel cycling”

Bryan Hyland, joint event organiser, said: “We are delighted to bring the Gravel Grind West to Westport, we hope to cause very little disturbance to Greenway users and walkers at the National park. The aim is to bring cycling on the road less traveled by using what we have on our doorstep and that's loads of off road trails and paths.

“We encourage all cyclist and especially those looking to challenge themselves or to try something new in cycling to get involved and sign up to enjoy one or more of the events. You can use any type of off-road bike from a full-sus MTB to an entry level gravel bike for all events over the weekend. “We will even allow e-Bikes on Saturday’s two events The Bothy and Wild Nephin”

*For more details and on how to enter, go to the event page