CYCLING: Giant cycling event returns to Ballycastle

The sun shining on a cyclist at the infamous Torr Head climb. PICTURE: Warren McConnaughie
The sun shining on a cyclist at the infamous Torr Head climb. PICTURE: Warren McConnaughie

Entries have just opened for this year’s Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive which starts and finishes in Ballycastle.

The North Coast can expect to see the annual influx of cyclists as they arrive from all parts of Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and further afield.

The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive is one of the biggest leisure road cycling events in Northern Ireland with event numbers last year reaching over 1,200 participants.

Event organisers Outdoor Recreation NI, a not for profit organisation charged with promoting outdoor activities in Northern Ireland, run this tourism event to showcase the area to visitors and to drive cycle tourism. Since it began in 2011, the event has generated £1.1 million of economic benefit to the area through bed nights and participant spend.

Participants have the option of three routes, all of which have their own distinct appeal. The short route, which is 35 miles, is ideal for cyclists who haven’t taken part in a cycling event before and are looking to try their hand for the first time. It takes in local landmarks such as the Bushmills Distillery, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, the Dark Hedges and the Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cyclists hoping for a bigger challenge have the option of either an 85 or 115 mile route which both take in the epic Glens of Antrim, before arriving at one of the most well-known features of the event, the gruelling Torr Head Road. Although guaranteed to push riders to the brink, the well-stocked feed stations, friendly atmosphere and breath-taking views all help those miles pass quicker. All three routes provide the perfect opportunity to experience the North Coast’s idyllic stretch of coastline as well as part of the 2014 Giro d’Italia route.

Event Organiser, Beverley Magowan from Outdoor Recreation NI, comments on why she believes the event is so successful. “We’re really excited to be holding the sportive in Ballycastle for the eighth time,” she said.

“Feedback from last year was overwhelmingly positive, and it was great to see over 1,200 cyclists in the area.

“Our dedication to providing an event that is professionally organised, full of stunning scenery and with routes to accommodate all abilities is contributing to why participants are returning again and again.”

Entries are now open on the event website (www.GiantsCausewayCoastSportive.com) and those who enter before Monday 30th April will receive an exclusive Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive technical t-shirt as part of a new Early Bird Offer.