Blarney, Co. Cork will provide the finish line for the 2,500km TransAtlanticWay Bike Race in the early hours of Wednesday morning as two German legends go head to head to win the second edition of the race.
The winner of the inaugural event in 2016, Bernd Paul, is trailing his compatriot Bjoern Lenhard by less than 30km as they complete the Ring of Kerry section of the race route, with just the Beara Peninsula, Mizen Head and a final sprint along the Wild Atlantic Way to the penultimate checkpoint in Kinsale.
Since the start of the race in Dublin’s Phoenix Park last Thursday morning (8th June) both lead riders have covered more than 2,000km solo and unsupported, just stopping every second night for short spells of sleep lasting 3-4 hours.
92 riders from 21 countries took to the start line riding from the capital to Derry and following the Wild Atlantic Way to Cork. These riders are now dotted along the west coast of Ireland from Donegal through Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry.
Race Director Adrian O’Sullivan, a second generation Irishman living in the UK, himself a veteran of the TransAmerican and TransContential Bike Races, established the event last year to bring the sport of ultra endurance bike packing races to the Emerald Isle with 30 entrants.
O’Sullivan said “While crossing America and Europe during my own rides, I felt that the scenery on the west coast of Ireland was a much nicer location for an event like this, the constant rolling hills, tough climbs and weather make it a challenge for the serious riders while the more recreational cyclists get to be part of a massive event in postcard perfect vistas.”
He continued “It’s all about being human. It’s about what’s left when you take everything away, except your will to survive, to carry on.”
The hospitality of the Irish along the route has been an impressive feature of the race so far. With locals providing random acts of kindness including roadside coffees for riders, running repairs on damaged bikes and offering food, beds and campsites to the participants spread through the country.