Review of Giant’s Causeway Sportive: One big challenge before winter

Posted on: August 30th, 2017

Review Giant's Causeway Sportive Antrim

The Giant’s Causeway Sportive takes place in Co Antrim on Saturday week; September 9th. There are three routes of varying distances this time around; 56km or 134km or the big one at 187km. Sinead Kennedy rode it last year and, as she reports, she was pushed hard.


Review Giant’s Causeway Sportive Antrim


By Sinead Kennedy

The summer had been busy for me with lots of work and of course tonnes of cycling.

One final event was earmarked before the end of season. I headed to Northern Ireland in September to complete the Giant’s Causeway Sportive.

I had been very busy the week before the Giants Causeway Sportive last year. So I arrived in Antrim with no notion of what I was riding. I didn’t know where I was headed or what to expect.

Usually I would read the official website; look at the route and the elevations. But time just ran away for this one.

Luckily I rang a friend on the way up  who has done the sportive numerous times. And she warned me to only to do the 126km route.

The 180km would be a big ask, especially with Torr Head at the end. She kept coming back to Torr Head; saying it was tough, it goes up and up some more, and so on.

To be honest, I’ve cycled up the Alps so didn’t really pay attention.  How hard can this Giant’s Causeway Sportive be?


Review Giant's Causeway Sportive Antrim

Review Giant's Causeway Sportive Antrim 

Some groups taking in the scenery and getting in the miles on the event in recent years.


It’s not often I listen to anyone but I was very glad that on this occasion I did.

Doing the 126km was plenty for me. The Antrim route is hilly enough and then, having already cycled 103km, the fun begins; or not. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

Have you ever been on a roller coaster? At the start it chugs up almost vertically and your mouth goes dry. Then it drops considerably along with your tummy. That was the first bit.

I don’t know how I had never heard of this climb until the day before. Even cycling in the Alps I don’t remember any of it being this bad.

This Torr Head was relentless; 17km in total. I would climb up a very steep aspect, it would get a bit level and then it would go up again.

It seemed to go on and on. Parts are 23 per cent gradient – that’s steep!

I honestly thought I’d just fall over. My arms and abs were killing me later from pulling so hard on the bike.

My front wheel kept lifting off the road in an unprovoked wheelie. The Antrim views were lovely though; looking up and up and up at a wall ahead with little tiny cyclists.


Review Giant's Causeway Sportive Antrim

Last year’s goody bag with the chainring and crank medal for all finishers.


I’d to dig deep and get up this wall. I found my inner Serena Williams. I was grunting and shouting good-oh.

The part of the climb that nearly broke me was when I thought it was over. It had levelled out and seemed like a natural finale.

I always look for the top tree or telegraph pole; there was nothing else higher. Then, there, pinned to a fence was ‘King of the Mountain starts here’.

It meant there was another climb and this section was timed.  No amount of obscenities was going to make this one go away.

Like the lovely demur, classy lady that I am I remembered cycling rule number 5; Man Up. I grew a proverbial pair and got stuck in there.

I’m not sure how long that stretch was but finally I saw ‘King of the Mountain ends here’. And that was it done.

Some of my group were waiting for me there. Others were still behind me. The good news was though we only had 6 kilometers left to the finish. Downhill.

The pictures and write ups don’t do the climb justice at all.

So the season closed for me on a very steep high. It was tough but I am very  glad that I took on the challenge. Another box ticked. Another new place visited.

The winter now is all about getting out on the bike; doing a bit of training and battling the elements that the lovely Irish weather will throw at us.

About the author

Sinead Kennedy is a cyclist and physical therapist. She specialises in frequency specific microcurrent and dry needling for prehab and rehab. She also teaches Pilates and Yoga and is based in south Dublin.