Wicklow is definitely one of our favourite places on the east coast to go for a spin on the bike. It has got so many rolling hills, steep climbs, thrilling descents and spectacular views. To find the perfect cycling route for you in Wicklow, we recommend parking up some Saturday/Sunday morning, taking out the map and mapping out a little or large loop of the countryside to take in all of its natural splendour. These are five of the best road cycling routes in Wicklow to go for a spin on.

1. The Sally Gap

Distance: 42km

Climbing: 680m

 

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Probably the most well-known cycle in Wicklow and definitely one of its toughest climbs! It’s a great one to test the legs on. Park up in Roundwood and head for the Gap, embrace the burn in your legs as you ascend. It will be so worth it for those stunning views of the dark waters of Lough Tay. Take the left turn onto the Military Road and savour the wild and rural beauty of Wicklow.

Another highlight to keep an eye out for en route is the Glenmacnass waterfall. Afterwards, you’ll coast down into the quaint village of Laragh, then over the Avonmore river for the last climb of the day and downhill the rest of the way into Roundwood.

2. Rathdrum Wicklow Gap & Dublin Route

Distance: 74km

Climbing: 1,130 metres

 

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Another stunning cycle around the same area is the Rathdrum Wicklow Gap and Dublin Route. The area around Glendalough is world renowned for its beauty but there’s so much more of it to see than just the national park. And the best way to do that is by bike. The climb over the infamous Wicklow Gap is a particular test as well as the climb to Ballinascorney. A particular highlight is the sight of Blessington Lakes.

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3. Meeting of the Waters Loop

Distance: 80km

 

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This spin features two big climbs and some spectacular views on a sunny day. This loop starts and ends in Aughrim and forms part of the annual Wicklow 200 race. This scenic cycle can be altered to suit your fitness levels. Start from Aughrim and head on up through Glenmalure for a great climb up the famous Shay Elliott. After that, you can coast down into Laragh and perhaps stop in the great little village of Rathdrum for some tea and cake. The highlight is Avoca aka ‘the meeting of the waters’. Continue the loop into Woodenbridge and back into Aughrim.

4. The Tinahely Loop

Distance: 70km

 

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This is an easier route along quiet roads that takes place at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains. You get to enjoy all the views but without the strain of climbing them. There is actually only one substantial climb in it. Make sure to stop for your coffee and a scone in the Tinahely Farm Shop. It’s a similar route to the one they follow in the annual Tour of the Falling Leaves. Starting from Shillelagh, head into Tinahely, Hackettstown, Kiltegan and before reaching Glenmalure, turn for Aughrim and follow the loop all the way back.

5. Ballinastoe Mountain Bike Park

 

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If you prefer mountain biking over road cycling, then Ballinastoe Mountain Bike Park is the spot for you.  Starting at €30 a day you’ll get yourself a bike and are free to venture out in the trail system until closing time. The 14 km trail consists of steep forest climbs (and speedy hill rides on the way down again) and on top of the mountain, you’ll get some stunning views across Lough Tay and the Garden of Ireland.

The twisty loop goes through several types of terrain: from open moorland to thick forest on the lower section. Since the trail can be challenging (but rewarding), newer riders will probably be better off focusing on the shorter loop with wider forest trails.

 

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By Orla O'Muiri

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