Maria and Alice conquer Wicklow hills

15 June 2014
Several Ballymena Road Club riders took part in last weekend’s Wicklow 200. One of the participants – Maria Shannon – from Ballymoney road gives an account of the event.
"I took part in the event along with fellow BRC riders Alice McClean, Raymond McClean, Tommy Douds and Steven Courtney. We travelled down on Saturday afternoon and stayed overnight at The Royal Hotel in Bray.
We started our ride from Shoreline Leisure Centre in Greystones on Sunday morning at 7-15am. The route took cyclists northwards from Greystones to Kilmacanogue and into the hills turning southwest through Roundwood to Laragh. From there the Wicklow 200 route crossed the Wicklow Gap to Hollywood and south to Baltinglass before turning east and returning to Laragh via Tinahely. We then went on to Avoca before turning north and back to Greystones. 
We stopped at two food stations during the event; firstly at Baltinglass, at the 50 mile point, and then at Rathdrum. Both feeding stations were extremely well organised with loads of sandwiches, bars and fruit cake. The hot tea and coffee was a very welcome sight for the cyclists who were all very cold and wet from miles of riding in the lashing rain and high winds.
We tackled the hardest climb, 228 metres up Slieve Mann, with 80 miles in our legs. There were also a couple of steep climbs out of Avoca which took us by surprise, as these were very severe as we had done 105 miles at that point. 
Alice and I far exceeded our expectations in getting round the course in just over 8hrs 15mins, despite the appalling weather conditions on the day. 
It was the hardest days cycling we have ever encountered and pushed us to our limits and we were very glad we had put in the training prior to the event, which we found helped enormously with regard to pace and nutrition. 
It was an incredible feeling when we crossed the finish line, exhausted and elated at the same time; I think we might do it again. Our certificates and medals will definitely have pride of place in our homes, it was the biggest challenge of our lives and we did it! 
A big thank you from us goes to Raymond, Tommy and Steven who supported and encouraged us throughout the day.
This was the 33rd year of the Wicklow 200 and it had a record entry of over 3000 riders.” Added Maria.