John Madden took part in the 182k or 114 mile ‘Giant Killer’ section of the Giant’s Causeway Sportive on Saturday. Although technically not a race Madden was keen to test himself against the grueling course and finished the first man home in an impressive time of 06:04:28 despite the hilly nature of the route.
On Friday 16th September Irish Pro Cyclist Philip Deignan (Team RadioShack) gave a talk and presented a slide show at a pre-event evening at Ballycastle Golf Club. Deignan was the ambassador for the event and had planned to ride himself but explained to the disappointment of those in attendance that he was injured at present.
In all a capacity 600 entrants signed up to take part in one of the three distances on offer. This represents a significant event for the Moyle area and congratulations go to the organizers. (Full details may be found on Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive website at: http://www.giantscausewaycoastsportive.com/event-information/event-information/ )
The Causeway Coaster, at approximately 57km, was the relatively short, gentle cycling loop which took in some of the most stunning scenery along the Causeway Coast. Leaving Ballycastle participants followed the road through Ballintoy and on to Bushmills, before they headed for home they passed through the village of Armoy and Glentaisie before finally reaching Ballycastle. With an abundance of scenery and minimal hills this loop was aimed at those who enjoy a short leisurely spin out on their bikes.
The Glens and Coast Route, at approximately 126km, was the next option and was a testing cycle for those who are used to long, tough days in the saddle. The route took participants through some of the most scenic areas of the Glens of Antrim before following the coastal road from Glenarm to Cushendun. Upon reaching Cushendun and with some rest in the legs it was then time to take on the final challenge – a loop of the infamous Torr Head. With its steep climbs, winding roads and world class scenery this was a finish that all cyclists will remember!
The Giant Killer was the toughest option and is definitely classed as the BIG one! Being a combination of the Causeway Coaster and the Glens and Coast Route the total distance is just over 180km. This event is not for the faint hearted, but for serious cyclists who are used to pounding out many miles on a weekly basis on tough hills.
Those who took part were rewarded with the best scenery on offer along the North Coast of Northern Ireland as they wound their way along this majestic route. It was to be a tough day in the saddle with many difficult climbs and driving rain near the end but for all who completed this challenge it was definitely a day they will never forget!
180 competitors took part in The Giant Killer and there was an impressive turnout from both the Bann Wheelers and also Roe Valley cycling clubs. To the credit of each of these clubs they did their best to stay together for the most part and tried to see that all their members were sheltered by the stronger riders within each club for the majority of the course. This left those individuals who had traveled from England, Scotland, Ireland and other countries to test themselves over the North Antrim route in whatever groups they found suitable for their ability.
It was not long before the testing climbs of Orra Mountain followed by the long drag from Cushendall to Glenravel had whittled down a lead group of 6 riders to just local Ballycastle sporting legend John Madden and former Ballymoney lad Dermot Kealey who now resides in London. The two men rode strongly together for the majority of the course until Kealey suffering from cramp fell back on the grueling Torr Head section of the course. This left Madden to finish on his own and post the fastest time of 6 hours, 4 minutes and 28 seconds. (a full set of results is available at the website detailed above).
“It was great to set a bench mark, in this the inaugural year of this event, for future years. I felt it was a terrific advert for the Glens and really puts North Antrim on the cycling map for visitors.
“I only hope this event grows and more local cyclists get involved. It was pleasing to see some of my good friends and training partners taking up the challenge and notable performances from some of them include local guys, in the 182k, like Dominic Drumm (06:48:07), Shane McNeil (07:05:44), Cormac McGarry (06:46:32) and Paul Brogan who completed the 126k in (05:33:58). I really hope I am fit and well enough to compete again next year because that was some challenge!” Madden said after he finished.
Madden took part and posted the fastest time in the Giant’s Causeway Coastal Sportive of 182k as preparation for his attempt at 100 miles of time trial cycling next Sunday on the Ballymena to Antrim dual carriageway. The event is being hosted by the Bann Wheelers cycling club of which Madden is an associate member.