Cycling in Laois
Do you love to cycle? Feeling the wind in your face as you freewheel down a hill or the pump of adrenalin as you reach that summit. Maybe you prefer the gentler cycle taking it all in from the comfort of your saddle. Laois is a cyclist’s paradise. With great road cycling and some very exciting mountain bike trails, there is something for everyone.
Turlough O’Brien, author of ‘Cycling South Leinster – Great Road Routes’ took a 56km loop from Vicarstown to Emo through The Heath to the Rock of Dunamase onto Athy and back to Vicarstown. He said that Laois was ‘great cycling country with excellent surfaces’. There are many quiet roads which are perfect to explore the flatter parts of the county.
But there are also the roads in the Slieve Blooms. The laoiscyclist.blogspot.com states that the Slieve Bloom Mountains easily compete with the Wicklow Mountains for cycling, and in fact have one very big advantage over the Wicklow mountains in that they don’t have large traffic jams on summer days. He also says that you can’t beat the feeling of reaching 527 meters and taking in the views of the oldest mountains in Europe. There are also a number of great spots for hill repeats along the trails.
There are three main road cycling routes in the Slieve Blooms; Slieve Bloom Village and Heritage Route at a distance of 95km, Slieve Bloom Glendine Route at 40km and Slieve Bloom Glenbarrow/Capard Route at 60km. You can download the map from slievebloom.ie/biking/road-cycling.
If you would like a shorter distance and a tour of the quieter roads and heritage spots around Durrow the Pedal Vintage Durrow Community Bike Scheme is a great place to rent bikes, helmets and a tour guide with local knowledge you won’t get anywhere else.
Or for bike rides along the Barrow line of the Grand Canal there is Barrow Way Bike Hire. Based in Vicarstown they offer hybrid, mountain and electric bikes. Perfect for a leisurely cycle by the water.
Mountain Bike Trails
Perhaps mountain biking is more your thing or you have always wanted to try it but never known quiet how.
There are two Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Tracks. These will one day soon be connected, but for now there is a blue route which starts at Kinnity Castle. It is 14.5km long with a 306m climb and of moderate difficulty. There are single tracks with fast decants which will get the adrenaline going! The red route starts at Baunreagh it is 6km long with a 170m climb and of a difficult to severe difficulty level. There are constant up and downs, rocky trails and upper slopes and difficult sections. This route will not disappoint someone looking for a challenge.
If you don’t feel confident tackling the routes yourself or would like to rent a mountain bike, the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Centre provide bike rental and guides as well as starter courses in mountain biking.
With all that biking you are bound to be hungry afterwards. Why not have The Cosy Café in Mountrath pack you up a picnic lunch to enjoy after your cycle? You will also probably be too tired to travel home or you will just want to stay a bit longer in our gorgeous county. So why not book a night or two in Roundwood House nestled in the Slieve Blooms. Enjoy a fabulous home cooked evening meal and maybe head out for a quick cycle before a filling breakfast the next day!
Quiet road with great surfaces, heritage trails, mountain biking and water way cycling all in the one county. What are you waiting for? You are very welcome to come and explore Laois by bicycle.