Indoor Training – The Perfect Set Up

Only a fool learns by his own mistakes, as General Von Bismark once so sagely put it, or as we like to say, we’ve already figured this stuff out so you don’t have to. Here’s the ideal turbo set up that will have you scampering across the hall to interval heaven every second evening.

There are those who will declare with grave foreboding that turbo trainers are the devil’s work but to get the best out of a winter training plan in this part of the world, they have become an invaluable aid to the consistent application of a training plan.

Much like those people who gave up cycling because the first bike they bought was little more than an unreliable, heavy and inefficient ‘bicycle shaped object’, many have sworn never to ride indoors again after a brief and unhappy flirtation with the wrong turbo set up.

The better your environment for turbo training, the more likely you are to do the planned session. Reduce complication and inconvenience to the bare minimum and you’ll be on the bike before you even realise you don’t like turbos.


Get the best one you can afford. The new direct drive turbos are rightly lauded for the ‘smart’ capabilities that allow many of them to be controlled by the Zwift gaming platform (among other training applications) but the greatest advantage of (most of) them is the relative lack of noise they generate.
Direct drive turbos also do away with tyre slip and the need for turbo specific ‘trainer tyre’. They’re expensive, though, and you can still get a lot out of Zwift and everything you need from a quality training programme with traditional ‘tyre-on’ systems.


You need a bike with functioning gears, a comfortable saddle and.. that’s about it. Ideally one that you can leave in place permanently to minimise set up time and reduce the likelihood of talking yourself out of doing that session after work or before breakfast.
For many people, the turbo bike during the summer will be their winter bike and in winter it’ll be the ‘good’ bike. But an old hacker will do as long as you can replicate the set up: crank length, saddle height and top tube length.
Some people will put ‘tri bars’ on to replicate their TT or triathlon set up and try to get some useful training in the right position. For the vast majority of riders for whom that’s not a consideration, it’s still worth sitting on the bike in the way you will on the day of your target event.


It’s a proven fact (I think) that more than 90% of the people who will tell you that they “tried a turbo once but couldn’t handle the idea of spending more than 10 minutes on it” never used a proper floor fan to keep them cool. A decent fan is quite simply, and not to put too fine a point on it, absolutely essential to a proper turbo experience. Try to get one with a broad reach and, ideally, as quiet as possible. Some people recommend two fans. One on either side at the front on the diagonal but one should be fine.


You need somewhere to put your extras like a computer or tablet, a TV monitor, water bottle, training programme etc. Get one that goes over the front wheel so you can make it close to you and reachable but not too high, mind, so that the monitor/TV/computer/tablet will be at just the right angle to your face.


Unless you’re doing it wrong, and even if you buy enough fans to fly a zeppelin, you’re going to sweat when you’re on a turbo. Profusely. You’re going to need a towel to mop your brow in between efforts and to drape across your handlebars. And, if funds allow, try to get a sweat catcher to protect your bike. Over time and with lots of turbo use the salt from your sweat will play havoc with the bike’s paint, alloy and carbon surfaces. It gets into bearings and threads and will eventually reduce your bike to atoms. We exaggerate, but only for effect. Don’t mop up afterwards, keep it dry in the first place.


Things are going to get steamy in there so open a window before you start. It helps to regulate body temperature, too. You definitely won’t need a radiator on in this room…


You can buy a purpose made rubber mat from a bike shop or, our budget preference, get a cheap offcut from your local carpet shop trimmed to size. Regardless of whether your turbo is the new direct drive or the older noisier type, a mat underneath the turbo and the bike will drastically reduce the noise and help to keep the floor surface clean. If you’re operating upstairs in an apartment or house, it’s probably the first thing to buy…


Not strictly necessary but if you’ve got a spare pair of shoes which you can leave attached to or beside the bike it helps reduce the set up time. You’ll sweat in them, too, so a pair for the road and another pair for the turbo will be easier to get dry between uses.
A spare heart rate monitor chest strap is useful, too. It’s going to get very damp.
A pair of shorts, socks and a baselayer are all you’ll need after that. Many eschew the baselayer but it’s great for wicking sweat and keeping the place tidy. You might need a jacket for the first few minutes on a cold winter’s night but it’ll be off you long before your first effort.


Decent music can be a great boon to any turbo session that includes intervals. Some people say you shouldn’t have use any artificial stimulation that won’t be available on the day of the event but we’ve never had the use of a rider attacking from the group to chase while we were doing intervals indoors (except using Zwift, of course) so we think some decent tunes is perfectly acceptable to get you through those interminable threshold efforts. Make it ‘up tempo’, mind. This is not the moment to haul out Tanita Tikaram’s Greatest Hits. (Ask your parents…)
Hearing the music is another challenge. Heavy on- or over-ear headphones won’t work when you’re giving it socks in a sprint interval because they’ll fall off your head. And dangly cables can be very tiresome. Try to get some Bluetooth in-ear headphones if you have a noisy turbo or some well-placed Bluetooth speakers.


Zwift is all the rage and there are other gaming programmes in the pipeline that will offer endless distraction from the drudgery. If that’s not your thing, YouTube offers an endless supply of old bike races which are surprisingly effective at getting you in the right mood. Trainer Road, Training Peaks and other programs are designed to integrate with the tools you use to prepare for your goal and you’ll benefit from the use of a laptop, tablet or smartphone during your sessions for more than just checking facebook or Instagram.

New Anti-Litter Initiative for Wicklow 200

Wicklow 200, Ireland’s longest running annual challenge cycling event, has created a new initiative aimed at preserving the environment on the roads of Ireland’s Garden County.

The Love It Don’t Leave It campaign centres around the beauty of the surroundings the riders will be travelling through during the Wicklow 200 and its Wicklow 100 sibling on Sunday June 10th.

The anti-littering campaign is asking riders to ‘love Wicklow, don’t leave litter’ and will incentivise entrants to dispense of litter responsibly as well as introducing other initiatives aimed at acknowledging and preserving the natural beauty of Ireland’s most popular cycling destination.

Wicklow’s roads have been the training ground for cycling legends and current pros alike such as Tour de France heroes Stephen Roche and Shay Elliott as well as current pros Nicolas Roche and Chis Juul-Jensen. Wicklow has also formed the backdrop for some of the most beautiful images seen in cinemas and on TV around the world.

Therefore, the organisers of the Wicklow 200 have created the Love It Don’t Leave It campaign aimed at educating and encouraging riders to enjoy their surroundings without environmental impact.

On the day, riders can exchange gel wrappers and energy bar wrappers at the finish line for tickets in a prize draw.

In addition, the organisers have made a commitment to reduce plastic waste by using water tanks to refill the riders’ water bottles at the feed stations in Baltinglass and Rathdrum.

The organisers will also keep plastic food packaging to a minimum by ensuring that cakes and savoury items are not individually wrapped for dispensing at the feed stations and the finish line.

The Wicklow 200 organisers believe that the roads and landscape they travel through give so much to cyclists and it’s our responsibility to give something back to the countryside.

An extensive #LoveItDontLeaveIt media campaign will keep the aims of the initiative at the forefront of minds in the run up to the event.

Event organiser Alan Heary believes that the Love It Don’t Leave It initiative is a key component in getting the most out of the Wicklow 200 experience for riders and organisers alike.

“For everyone involved in Wicklow 200, the event is a privilege and it’s up to us to recognise our good fortune by returning the compliment.

“The Love It Don’t Leave It initiative is our way of showing the world that cycling in Ireland’s most beautiful county is an honour and we’re asking our riders to acknowledge that by retaining their litter to be disposed of in the proper way.

“The water tanks will dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste the event generates and the packaging needs have also been cut by not individually wrapping each food item in plastic as was the custom in past years.

“We’re constantly reviewing our activities around the event and looking for ways to reduce our environmental footprint in Wicklow.”


Cycling in South Dublin and Wicklow – Q & A with Ian O’Riordan

Irish Times journalist, Ian O’Riordan has been reporting on sport since 1998 with one of his first breaks in journalism coming with his coverage of the 1998 Tour De France in Ireland. He has cycled every square metre of Wicklow in a lifelong love affair with Ireland’s Garden County. The former US scholarship athlete uses his bike for fitness more than ever and has produced a new guide to the best rides and routes in the, Cycling in South Dublin and Wicklow: Great Road Routes.


What inspired you to produce this guide to bike riding in Wicklow?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been somehow drawn into Dublin and Wicklow mountains. Perhaps the thing about
being born at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains is that they enter your subconscious at an early age and never let go. From an early age they also became my playground of sorts, thanks chiefly and fortunately to devoted grandparents who took us mostly willingly on Sunday walks up and around places like the Sugar Loaf, Djouce Mountain, and the Hell Fire Club.

At school in De La Salle Churchtown I sat in many a classroom that DubWickPIClooked directly out at the Dublin Mountains, and can remember becoming increasingly lured by a longing to escape into them, either by foot or any other means.When I started running as a teenager this opened up another avenue, as most Sunday mornings we would set off from Marlay Park and run up through Cruagh Wood and back, or sometimes all the way through Glencullen, where after many years abroad and in the city I returned to live.

It was by bicycle, however, that the Dublin Mountains truly revealed themselves in all their openness and glory, and by natural extension, the Wicklow Mountains, the largest continuous upland region in Ireland.

When long distance runs in the mountains became a little more of a chore than a pleasure the bicycle at first proved a worthy substitute and now, I think, a superior one. The distances are far more manageable and far less limited, and there is something uniquely intimate about cycling on mountainous or hilly roads, certainly a step closer to Mother Nature and all her seasonal personalities. After 12 years of cycling and discovering new routes, and encouraged by the good people at The Collins Press, this cycling guide emerged from the notes and maps and memories.

Can you remember your first bike ride in Wicklow?

Indeed, it was with my older brother Donal, sometime in the summer of 1986. He was 17, I was 15, and we drew a rough map of how to get to Glendalough, then rode over the Wicklow Gap to Laragh, and after a brief stop off in Glendalough, rode back through Roundwood and Enniskerry to the family home in Churchtown. It took us an entire day and the memory will last a lifetime.

What was your most memorable day riding your bike in Wicklow?

Hard to single one out, although as recalled in Route 5, the Glencullen-Laragh Circuit, one day in early June, a few years ago, having turned left at the Sally Gap and riding up towards Luggala, another cyclist suddenly appeared on the road ahead of me, tearing up the steep incline with a hardy look of determination – a sort of cross between Bill The Butcher from Gangs of New York and Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood.

He passed me in a speedy blur but a couple of minutes later I was thinking the resemblance had been a little too uncanny; later, when riding back up from Laragh, I passed him again, this time realising it was indeed Daniel Day-Lewis.

It was about a year since he’d won his second Oscar for his role as Daniel Plainview, and riding in the Wicklow Mountains like this was his way of retreating from all the trappings which usually come with a success like that.

I flagged him down to say hello and we ended up sharing the few miles back through Laragh, and he was thoroughly enjoyable company, recalling how cycling had always been his thing, especially in the early days in London, where he would ride around to various auditions, often showing up with splashes of bicycle oil on his hands and face.

Although by then into his 50s he also looked superbly fit, which of course anyone would if they cycled regularly through the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.

You’ve seen the route of the Wicklow 200. What advice would you have for first time entrants or people thinking of taking the plunge?

The best way to take on any long cycle such as the Wicklow 200 is to embrace it,  pain and beauty and all. I often think about and quite one of the original and still best cycling books, The Rider, by Tim Krabbé, which like On the Road and The Great Gatsby, is best read in a slow and continuous loop. To the last word it’s the perfect paean to all the pain and pleasure and the fellowship of the road bike.

From the opening paragraph, where Krabbé looks at the non-riders around him – “the emptiness of those lives shocks me” – it is by turns of the page subjectively arrogant and despairingly real. It was written in 1978 and reads even louder today.

“The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses; people have become woolly mice. Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few friends these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.”

Just some things to consider, whether in the rain or shine, while ascending the Wicklow Gap, and racing down into Glenmalure.

Do you have a favourite of any of the rides you’ve detailed in your guide?

DubWickAProbably Route 4, Sally Gap-Luggala Loop, as it passes right over the Luggala Estate; On the last day of January 2012, I packed several boxes into the back of my Jeep Wrangler, drove the 25-odd miles into the Wicklow Mountains and across the Sally Gap, then checked into a small cut stone cottage in the heart of the 5,000 acres of outer remoteness that is the Luggala estate.

It was a nuclear cold winter’s morning. My family reckoned I’d survive no more than a month, my friends said no more than a week. Instead I survived more than a year, each day dreaming I had woken up in another world or another lifetime or somewhere in between.

Obviously your first love is athletics so what is it about cycling that really appeals to you?

Again, it’s the extra distance that the bicycle allows you to travel, while also taking in more of the surroundings. And dare I say the older and the wiser I become, getting out on the bike is a lot easier than getting out for a run, and you don’t have to lie down for the rest of the day.

Cycling South Dublin and Wicklow: Great Road Routes is available through Collins Press.

Entrants to the Wicklow 200 will also be in with a chance to win a signed copy.



You asked our expert coach Paddy Doran from Peak Endurance Coaching and he’s answered. In a varied career, Doran has coached everyone from top professional racing cyclists to ‘weekend warriors’ challenging themselves to finish the course.

With just under five weeks to go to the big day, here’s Paddy’s take on the two most popular questions we received.


Q: Where should you be with your training now for the 200? Or should you think about the 100 instead?

A: With around 4 weeks to go before the Wicklow 200 you should be:IMG_0279

If you feel you are not at the required level to complete the Wicklow 200 it is possible to make some increases to your training over the next few weeks. A simple guideline is to increase your amount of training (kms or time) by 10% each week for the next few weeks.


Q:  Are hills important in your training schedule at this point?

A:  Incorporating hills into your weekly training schedule is vital. The Wicklow 200 takes in some serious climbs, therefore, the challenge will require both strength endurance as well as good aerobic condition. Due to the length of the course your ability to pace yourself is vital.

If you go too hard on hills you run the risk of expending too much energy and going very slow. This is what racing cyclists call blowing up on a hill!

At this stage two hilly sessions per week will see improvements in your climbing ability.

Training Session 1

This will be a long spin incorporating long hills, probably best done at the weekend, as its duration should be between 3-5 hours if you are going to ride the Wicklow 200.

This should mainly be ridden at talking pace or 65% to 75% of your maximum heart rate if you are using a heart monitor. On hills the heart rate could rise into the 80% range so use your gears well to control the effort – a cadence of 70 to 85 pedal revs per minute on the long hills is a good guide.

Naturally you wouldn’t go straight into a 3-5-hour very hilly session if you haven’t been using climbs already. Progression is required from training on the flat to gradually introducing more challenging climbs

Training Session 2

This will be a shorter spin, duration 1.5 to 2 hours, which should include hills ridden at a slightly faster pace than Session 1 for a few minutes at a time.

This session should also include 2-4 x 10-minute efforts on flat or undulating roads. All of these efforts should be mainly ridden at an effort where your breathing would be deep but not gasping for breath or at 80 to 85% heart rate if you are using a heart monitor.

This session will improve your maximum cruising speed and help you to be more comfortable at reasonable speeds.

Energy Replacement

Aim to eat / drink about 60gms of carbohydrate per hour to maintain energy levels on training sessions in excess of two hours.

IMPORTANT: An increase in training also requires good nutrition, rest and sleep to assist in recovery.

We’ll be running the ‘Ask the Experts’ series in the final weeks leading up to the event. Our panel of experts includes Cycling Coach, Paddy Doran from Peak Endurance Coaching, Mental Toughness and Performance Coach, Alan Heary, and expert bike mechanics from Cycle SuperStore .

Just submit your question on our Facebook Page, Instagram, or Twitter, or by emailing and we’ll select a number of them each week which the panel will address in their regular post.

Descending Hills Safely

Paddy Doran, cycling coach with Peak Endurance Coaching shares his tips for safe descending.


Cycling Sportives

Every weekend there are countless legions of riders have the opportunity to challenge themselves any one of thousands of exciting cycling sportive promoted throughout Europe and beyond. Sportives, Sportifs, Gran Fondos, call them what you will, they are a great way to enjoy cycling. What could be better than rolling along the roads at an elevated pace in the company of people who love cycling?

Descending hills safely

Many of these events are very hilly like the great Etape du TourMarmotte or our own great event, Wicklow 200 and in the great tradition of physics, what goes up must come down. Long descents routinely follow long climbs and, for many, one of the biggest challenges on any sportive is the task of safely descending the various hills offered by the organisers. High, indeed very high speeds can be achieved depending on the gradient and to descend safely requires a certain amount of skill and a responsible attitude.

Number 1 goal

While cycling in general is a safe sport, accidents do happen occasionally. So your first goal when setting out on a sportive should be to complete the sportive accident free. Remember its not a stage of the Tour De France so seconds don’t matter so much.

Responsible Attitude

A responsible attitude will go a long way to helping you achieve your goal. It’s very easy to get carried away by the exhilaration of the speed and corners but every entrant needs to pay due regard to the safety of themselves and their fellow bike riders throughout what is often a very demanding day for all concerned. To avoid placing yourself and your fellow cyclists in danger always ride at your own speed on the descents. That is, ensure that you are comfortable with the pace you’re setting on the descents and ensure that you have the space and time to react to any unforeseen circumstances on the road.

Smooth is fast

Approach the corners at a controlled speed in good control of the bike. This will deliver a quick descent with less stress and fatigue than if your on the limit on every corner.

Pro cyclists

Take the best of what the pros do in the Tour De France like good lines in and out of corners and smooth braking. Do not attempt stuff like sitting on the crossbar or resting forearms on the bars to get more speed. THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS

Open roads

Remember you are cycling on open roads and the usual rules of the roads apply. Always cycle on your own side of the road. However be careful of riding too close to the edge of the road. There is often a lot of loose soil, stones there where your wheels can lose grip.

Competency levels

Everyone has different levels of experience and skills. Always descend and corner within your own level of competency, particularly if you’re not a very experienced cyclist. And respect other people’s level of competency if you are very experienced and a good descender.

Principles of Descending Safely

Understanding how to prepare for and descend the hills can increase your safety and enjoyment of your day out. Here’s a short video lesson from an ex professional cyclist.

Bike well maintained

Have your bike in good condition. Ten Bike Check tips

Hold bars correctlybraking-blog-600x437

Always have both hands on the bars and fingers in close proximity to the brake levers, especially  when
descending. Note how one cyclist is on the drops and one on the brake hoods but they are both using their brakes. Also they have their thumbs and fingers form a circle that gives a secure grip.

How NOT to hold the BarsDon-how-not-to-hold-the-bars

Your hands will most likely lose control of the bars if you hit a pothole with this hand position.  These falls usually result in facial injuries so hold the bars like the two cyclists in the previous picture.

Look Anticipate

As you will be moving faster on descents you need to be seeing any corners or obstacles well in advance of reaching them. So always look well up the road so that you have ample time to slow down.

More speed= > increased braking distancedescent-3-on-the-flat

As speed increases on descents stopping distance also increases. So always leave bigger gaps between yourself and the rider/s in front of you on descents. This will allow time to slow down safely if you must.


Brake in plenty of time when approaching corners. Practice using both brakes together and do your braking before the corners while cycling in a straight line.

Comfort zone

Aim to descend and corner within your comfort zone. If you feel you are beginning to move too fast always stay calm and gradually slow down.

Eating drinking on the bike

If you wish to drink or eat do it on the flat roads or just before you reach the top of a hill.  Preferably when you’re at the back of a group. Enjoy the coffee and cakes when you arrive to the finish safely. Join your local cycling club where you can learn lots of cycling skills.

Links to more tips Top ten tips for sportives here  Tips for the start  here

Paddy Doran Coach Level 3 Cycling Coach and Tutor


RIDER STORIES – Ruairi White, 2014

In the latest of our Rider Stories, Ruairi White of Clontarf CC recalls his epic first encounter with Ireland’s toughest one-day bike ride. White, like so many, has rediscovered the joys of bike riding after a long absence and has found his motivation for the world’s greatest sport fully replenished by his years away. He needed all those topped-up reserves for what turned out to be a particularly challenging day in the Wicklow hills…

Ruairi, fourth from left, with his Clontarf CC clubmates. Photo: Brendan Culleton

Ruairi White, 2014

My Wicklow 200 story comes in small snapshots of the day. Little memories that those who have done it will recognise, and those yet to do will soon understand.

I did the Wicklow 200 for the first time in 2014.

Photo: Sean Rowe

Photo: Sean Rowe

I was only back on the bike training for less than a year after a long long break. I raced as a teenager with Sorrento CC in the late 80s and then moved on to other things in life due to injury and, well, life’s choices! I’d been on club spins with Clontarf CC but I was woefully underprepared and I wasn’t sure I could even cycle 200km on a flat road, never mind the hills in between. At that stage a 100km spin was a monster day but I thought ‘what the heck. How hard could it be?’…

Well, come the day it was a little bit wet and a little bit windy for my first Wicklow 200. In fact it was a deluge with punishing strong winds…

And so to my snapshots of that day:-

1. Firstly I remember coming back to the headquarters with everyone cheering and ringing bells! Lots of people come out to cheer on friends and clubmates. There’s a great buzz coming in to the finish. It was quite an emotional finish for me and I almost started crying. I guess it was the tiredness and also I was thinking about my dad at that moment.

He would have been very happy to see me back on the bike and finishing the Wicklow 200. As a teenager he took me to all the races. He never complained and I never appreciated just how much he drove me around (before the days of the motorways). He liked sitting in the car during the races reading a book, listening to music and getting some peace and quiet away from the hectic family life.

Now I can properly appreciate that and the effort he went to to help me. I’ve come full circle being his age now and having a busy family life. And it all hit me at that tired, happy moment, rolling home with the bells ringing and crowds cheering. Dad never did get to see me back on the bike but maybe he was smiling from above, reading a book and listening to some music.

2. Hanging on to the coat-tails of three guys on the Hollywood hill, them in Irish kits and Rás-fit tanned legs and them having a good yap. Then I thought to myself, ‘What the hell am I doing here, there is like 150km to go, let them go Ruairi, let them go.

3. Milling it down to Baltinglass in a big up-and-over chain gang, into a headwind and torrential rain. I took one turn at the front and said ‘feck this, I’m sitting in the back out of the wind.’ Don’t get left out alone, find a group.

4. Two cake slices, a sambo and coffee in Baltinglass. Got to keep fuelling. The portaloos were a beautiful sight and very much in demand.

5. Cycling into the valley before the start of Slieve Maan and the sun finally coming out. The clouds still hanging on stubbornly to the forest up above and the thought ‘We have to climb out of this valley, this could be tough.’ But the valley was some sight.

6. On the climb of Slieve Maan looking down at my back wheel for about the tenth time to see if, by any chance, I might have another easier gear to use. I never found one!

7. Enjoying the Shay Elliott (Glenamalure) climb after Slieve Maan. It’s all relative. Getting over the top was a relief as it was ‘almost’ all downhill from there!

8. Two cakes slices, a sambo and coffee in Rathdrum waiting for the torrential rain outside to stop. I sat down for too long, my knees were cold and stiff by the time I got back on the bike. I should have skipped that extra sambo.

9. Sprinting full steam out of the saddle up the Redcross climb, thinking I was Contador, knowing it was the last climb of the day.

10. Racing along the Ashford coast road in the sun with a bunch of people on the big ring counting down the villages; Ashford, Newcastle, Kilcoole, Greystones. Nearly there!

11. Hobbling into the headquarters like John Wayne, meeting the other Clontarf CC folks all coming in with smiles across their muck-splattered faces.

12. Putting on dry socks. Nice.

13. Back at the car trying to find my keys and phone charger, and an old lady telling me ‘you got a lovely day for it’, and me answering ‘er, might have been sunny in Greystones but not so up the mountains.

Oohh I don’t believe it, it was gorgeous here all day’ was her reply. But it was all sunny in the end.

I just had to tell my legs to shut up for a bit.

Ruairi White in County Wicklow, November 2014

Ruairi White in County Wicklow, November 2014

Ridden the Wicklow 200? We’d love to hear your story! Submit your story with photos to:

RIDER STORIES – Stephen McNally, 1983

In the first of a regular series, we hear from riders who have ridden Ireland’s longest running mass participation bike ride. Here Stephen McNally shares his experience of the 1983 Wicklow 200.

Stephen McNally on his way to World’s Masters Pursuit silver. Manchester, 2011. Photo: Larry Hickmott (

Stephen McNally is a lifelong cyclist who performed with distinction on the local racing scene as a junior and again in a more recent comeback to the sport.

McNally won a European Masters Pursuit gold medal in 2011 and finished second to Martyn Irvine in the Irish Senior Men’s Pursuit Championship, 26 years after he had won the same title on the same Sundrive Road track.

An IVCA member for many years, Stephen was still a callow youth when he first encountered the promoting organisation for Ireland’s toughest sportive. He has ridden the Wicklow 200 on several occasions over the years but none was more memorable than the first time he took on the challenge in the second running of the event in 1983.

Here is his Story:

“I had started cycling regularly in early 1982, a naive 15-year-old, tagging on the back of the Bray Wheelers club spins, under the guidance of Paddy Martin. I rode my bike as often as I could, sometimes with Bray and sometimes alone, or with my cousin Nobby who had also recently started cycling. Myself and Nobby, and other friends made several An Oige hostelling trips on our bikes during 1982, taking us all over Leinster and down as far as Cork… These trips have given me some of my fondest cycling memories.
“So when Nobby suggested that we should train for a cycling event called the Wicklow 200 in May 1983, I jumped at it. Even though we were only 15 and 16 at the time, our hostelling trips had us well trained for long distance cycling. 1983 was the second running of the Wicklow 200, and the route went over many of the Wicklow roads we were already very familiar with. We were really looking forward to it.

“As he lived closer to the starting location in Milltown, Dublin, I stayed at Nobby’s house the night beforehand. Disappointingly, we opened the curtains the following morning to be greeted by pouring rain. Worse again, it was forecast to rain for the entire day. Whether through youthful stubbornness or more likely naivety we didn’t give it much thought and hit the road. When we arrived in Milltown for the start already soaked to the skin there was a small group of people gathered at the start and we headed off without much delay.

“The finer details of the day itself and the exact route of the Wicklow 200 that year have faded a little but what is still crystal clear, 35 years later, is that it did not stop raining all day! We have an uncle living in Blessington, and we stopped there for an hour or two, for a hot dinner, and a chance to thaw out. I also have a memory of a couple of guys being lifted into the back of an ambulance at some point during the day, not after an accident, but because they were totally under-dressed, suffering with hypothermia, and needed urgent medical assistance.

McNally, left, with the Sorrento CC Junior Tour squad. Navan, 1984

McNally, left, with the Sorrento CC Junior Tour squad. Navan, 1984

“I have another memory of the day, and that is huddling together in the doorway of a shop in some town or village towards the end of the route, sheltering from the rain. We’d both got the ‘knock’ at this stage. We had no food left so we dug into our soggy woollen jersey pockets for some money to buy food. We clubbed together a few pennies, and Nobby went in to the shop. He came out a few minutes later with a box of sugar cubes and we proceeded to scoff the entire box between us!

“In total, the entire event took us somewhere between 12 and 13 hours. After we got back to Milltown, we still had 8-10km to go back to Nobby’s house. We were like two shivering skeletons when we finally made it home. We were so cold we had to have our cycling clothes peeled off us. We sat in the kitchen, wrapped in blankets with our feet in basins of warm water drinking hot tea for ages before we felt any way normal. I remember my fingers were so aching and swollen afterwards, I was unable to properly hold a pen to write properly in school for several days…

“So that was my first Wicklow 200. Happy to report I have done several more since then. The event moved to its current June slot soon afterwards, and thankfully, although I’ve had many many tough times on the bike since then, I’ve never experienced anything like that first Wicklow 200!”

Ridden the Wicklow 200? We’d love to hear your story! Submit your story with photos to:

Recovering from A Long Bike Ride

Recovery is something that is just as important as the training or events that you complete. Taking a day off, stretching, doing a cool down, eating or drinking enough should be a part of your training regime. – Sasha Maguire


This has been said before, nutrition is key to your performance, particularly for after your workout or challenge. It is important to eat enough at the right time. If you exercise regularly you should be eating at regular intervals throughout the day. After you have exercised it is important to replenish your muscles with nutrients, carbohydrates and protein. After a big spin you should eat within 40-60 minutes after finishing to gain maximum benefit from the food you eat.

After a tough event it is important to take a break from your regular intense training. That could mean taking a day off or reducing the intensity of your training days. By giving your body a rest you are reducing your risk of overtraining and fatigue. Overtraining and fatigue can occur when the body and or mind are over worked  and become burnt out. It is definitely worth listening to your body and if it’s very tired go easier in the gym, do a shorter spin or just take it easy. Sleep will also help your body recover and reconstruct itself. You are better off taking a day off rather than burning yourself out and not being train for a few weeks.

You are probably sore from the hilly Wicklow 100 and 200 challenges and that’s normal. It was a tough day and a huge achievement to have completed it. During exercise your muscle fibres tear and by giving them enough food, rest and maintenance work (mobility and flexibility) you allow them to replenish and grow.

For cyclists, the things you do off the bike are just as important as the things you do on the bike.

Stretching after jogging in nature.Stretching is a great way to aid recovery. It is important to stretch out the key area related to cycling.

Because of the linear motion and hunched position on the bike it is very important to stretch and foam roll your back and lower limbs. There are examples of foam rolling see previous blogs.

These are the key lower limb areas to keep stretched and mobile: hamstrings, quads, shins, calves and ankles. Your lower back is also a key area to keep healthy.

Foam rolling releases knots in the muscles and breaks down the lactic acid as well. It can be sore but it is very beneficial to muscular health.

Stretching increases flexibility and mobility in the muscles. Having strong and mobile muscles will significantly improve overall performance and reduce the risk of injuries.

Recovery and tapering your training sessions will not only allow your body to rest and rejuvenate but you’ll also be able to enjoy your training more. It will give your mind and body an opportunity to develop and progress towards your goals.

2017 Stem Guides of Climbs







We all know what a privilege it is to experience Wicklow one day each June, and Powerscourt Estate would like to offer Wicklow 200 entrants the opportunity to enjoy it all year long!

Powerscourt Estate are giving one lucky Wicklow 200 entrant an annual family membership to their award winning gardens!

Just like and share this post on Facebook and make sure you’ve entered the event by June 4th to win.

*Competition only open to entrants of the Wicklow 200 / 100*

Powerscourt Estate are also offering ALL entrants of the Wicklow 200 €10 off an annual membership to their garden – which National Geographic voted the No. 3 Garden in the World!

Winner will be announced June 6th!

Wicklow 200 Ireland's Premier Cycling Challenge