Here’s where it all begins, the Bearna Loop is a gentle 30 km spin incorporating some lovely landscape and terrain on the edges of the Connemara wilderness and the shores of Galway Bay. Our route takes us on a nice but do-able journey North-West along the Clifden Road turning left for Bearna and ascending gently up to the Bearna Golf Club before dropping down a quiet country road to the Twelve.
Here we take another left along the coast road all the way to the traffic lights at the top of Threadneedle Road before making a left again to descend along Bishop O’Donnell and Seamus Quirke roads before crossing back to Galweigans Rugby Club.
The staple spin for most Galweigan cyclists, the classic Galway- Spiddal-Moycullen-Galway “block” (or in reverse – depending on the wind or the mood!) has it all. Our version of it this year crosses the Corrib and heads out the N59 Clifden Road to the Bearna turn-off where we ascend a gentle climb to the Bearna Golf Club and drop down to the village passing Lough Inch on the right. Turning right at the lights and on to the R336 Coast Road we are now on the Wild Atlantic Way as we head westwards through the rocky landscape with beautiful views of Galway Bay on the left and into the Gaeltacht area of Connemara. There’s a little challenge in a short climb up Furbo Hill and only a small hop onwards to An Spidéal where a right turn is made to begin the climb towards Moycullen.
If you get a chance here, stop, turn around and really enjoy and absorb the beauty of the views of the Wild Atlantic Way, Galway Bay and the Cliffs of Moher beyond. Continue on upwards a little until the peak is achieved near the new wind mills before a long descent to Moycullen village where we turn right and trek in along the flattish hard shoulder (mostly!) that incorporates the “Golden Mile”. Back to civilization and turning left over the bridge and returning to Galweigans Rugby Club will bring an end to a fantastic cycling experience.
The Shan, as it is known locally, is a shortened version of Seanadh Phéistín which is one of the remote townlands between Oughterard and the main R336 near Rossaveel. The scenery here is spectacular and the terrain even more so – the climb on our route was incorporated into the Rás some years back and the ascent from the Oughterard side is classified as a Category 3 climb.
Our journey will bring us straight out the N59 to Oughterard where we take a left before the bridge and church and start the ascent gradually before the real climbing begins after about 3 km’s. There’s a couple of false peaks before we are afforded a spectacular panorama of the Connemara landscape and another smaller climb before we get the sniff of the sea air in our nostrils and prepare ourselves for a speedy descent through the rugged terrain and beautiful lakes to the West. It’s left again onto the Wild Atlantic Way as it brings us all the way back to the city.
For those who might like to be a tiny bit more adventurous why not take in a taste of all three routes? You can start with the Bearna Loop and turn right once you hit Bearna and head West to An Spidéal before taking another right and across to Moycullen to complete the Spiddal Block.
Here we take a left and head for Oughterard and complete the “Shan” as described above. No doubt there will be a great sense of achievement having rolled all three of these fantastic loops into a single 125 km spin!