Congratulations to Mervyn Kinkade who set a new Unsupported WUCA record during his attempt of Ireland N-S in the Male, 18-49 age group on a standard bike. This smashed the supported WUCA record by 2 hours!
Ireland N-S (Malin Head to Mizen Head) Race Report 23rd July 2023 Unsupported
This weekend I went out to set a new record with the WUCA (World Ultra Cycling Association) in the unsupported Cross country catergory for N-S Ireland. (Malin Head – Mizen Head) .
Morning of the attempt I was up at 5.30am, collected a friend and we drove to Malin Head. The heavy rain on the drive up was off putting but not enough to put off the attempt. By 9.08am I was on the bike and ready to start my attempt. Thankfully the rain has eased off a this point.
However soon after this it was heavy rain again for the next 200k so saw very few cyclists on the road which is unusual on a Sunday. The wet weather certainly added to the mental challenge. The image of the flood in the next picture 100k in doesn’t look bad however as I was cycling my chainring got fully submerged and I had wet feet for the next 460K not to mention a noisy chain.
This is part of the challenge of the unsupported category which adds another layer of difficulty. Another challenge was most service stations on the route closed by 10pm. This meant resorting to a garden hose at some point in Cork to refil my bottles as I expected to finish much sooner. I’ve managed a few 300K loops with higher average speeds so with mostly a tail wind I was expecting a higher average here but wasn’t to be. The road surfaces and lots of stop junctions also impacted the overall time.
Thankfully the weather dried up for the night time riding in Cork and the run into Mizen head. My total time was 19hours 30minutes including stops which I am very proud of. The wind certainly helped along the way but not as much as it looked like it would of paper. The current supported record N-S is 21hrs, 28 minutes set in 2020 by Joe Barr who has just won the WUCA world championship in the 50+ age catergory.
This was my longest unsupported ride to date and likely to be in the future. Thanks to John Whelan for dropping me at the start line and to my wife Gillian for putting up with all the training and collecting me at 4.35am in Mizen head. I don’t think I would have been able to cycle home😊
My Lessons learned for anyone attempting in the future:
- It gets cold at night! Lots of layers needed
- Plan for a dry day, it’s challenging enough without bad weather, expect it cost me an hour overall and added complexity
- Test lights before attempt, do some night riding with equipment beforehand. My main light failed and with the dim backup light descending at speed was difficult
- It’s been said before but don’t underestimate Cork, the challenge only starts when you arrive there.
- Unsupported is a very different animal to having a support crew in many different ways.
- It gets very dark and spooky when you’re the only one of the road in the little hours of the morning.
- Limited food and water options after 10pm. Need to plan for the worst case durations.
- Sharp neck pain from weight of helmet, need a lighter one and some neck exercises.
- Bring battery pack. Battery was critical in everything at the finish line.
- First time using Maurten and needs to be very well shaked, caked in the bottom of bottles.
- Don’t go through limerick towns after they win the all Ireland hurling final.
- Try to get accommodation close to finish and start line to get a full night sleep before and after the event, might be easier in the off peak season in June.