The Vee: first hundred-miler of the year
The Vee is a mountain pass on the Waterford Tipperary border, at 1100 ft., and a favourite route for the Cork City cyclist who wants to train for a hundred miles. I've done it maybe 20 times in the last 25 years, maybe less.
Today we headed east and stayed on minor roads from the Glanmire roundabout to Cobh Cross where we had to cycle a bit on the main road to Midleton. Not great fun that bit, as the hard shoulder is lumpy and not very wide in places.
From Midleton we took the road to Tallow. This is quite hilly and rises to over 600 ft, Midleton being almost at sea-level. It goes through the village of Dungourney, after which a very expensive whiskey made in Midleton, is named. Midleton is where the Jameson distillery is situated and it's the biggest whiskey distillery in the world. Here about 50 years ago, after the amalgamation of nearly all the Irish distilleries into Irish Distillers, a giant new distillery was built and it makes Jameson, Jameson 12 yr. old, 12 yr. old Distillery Reserve, Jameson Gold, Jameson 18 years old, Jameson Signature Reserve, Midleton Very Rare, Dungourney, Paddy, Tullamore Dew, Tullamore Dew 12 year old, Power's. Power's 12 year old, Dunphy's, Green Spot (Now that's some whiskey!), Redbreast and several more I can't think of right now. As you may gather, I'm a big whiskey man, drinking Irish, Scotch, Spanish and Japanese. I don't like any American stuff, ... yet...
The countryside is rolling here and pretty.
Above you see Mick and Donie ahead of me.
We drop down to Tallow and pass through. Tallow is not the most tremendous place on the planet. From there we cycle to Lismore, now that's a place.
There we have Chicken in a Basket with Tea and Bread and Butter in the Red House. We always stop in this old, grotty, unchanged pub, but full of character. The owner's a nice man, Michael O'Leary, no relation to Ryanair's Standartenfuhrer.
After a good feed we head off and drop down towards Lismore Castle. This belongs to the Duke of Devonshire. It's a fabulous castle.
Then we begin the climb of the Vee. This was one of the nicest climbs in Ireland before some dumpkopf of an engineer "repaired" the road and turned it into a surface which I can only describe as "cycling over lego". It still is very beautiful in its first 2 miles (It's nine in all) with big old trees and a cascading river.
Eventually I reach the top. My friends are a couple of minutes ahead of me, as I was taking photos and today am on a heavier bike, a Thorn Raven, than them (on their carboniferous trekmeisters).
The Vee is called that as it's a V-shaped gap in the Knockmealdown Mountains. (Cnoc Maoldomhnaigh = literally, Moloney's Hill).
On the way down Mick photographs Donie and me, with the Galtee Mountains in the background.
While descending we view the marvellous vista of the great plain of Munster, the Golden Vale, famous for milk and cheese.
Reaching Clogheen (pronounced Cloheen) we see a plaque on the wall of historical interest.
Mick queried the wording, wondering whether he who was hanged poisoned his wife in the building as well!
We head for Ballyporeen, where Ronald Reagan's ancestors lived, and then fork left for Kilworth. More hills, and then a great descent to the lovely village of Kilworth, where we get fizzy drinks and chocolate. The ladies in the shop ask Mick where we've been. He tells them. "Gosh, says one of them, you'll be exhausted tonight". Mick is a silver-tongued devil. "We won't be bothering the ladies tonight, ladies" says he. Great hilarity.
We proceed across country to Glanworth where we cross the old bridge, the oldest in County Cork dating back to the early 1600's and pass by the beautiful old Mill with the ruined castle behind it.
Onwards to Ballhooley whence we begin another long gradual wooded unending climb to about 700 ft. Then up and down and down and up until we reach Cork.
This was a hard training spin and meant to be such. Mick is off to Haute Provence in about 10 days. I'm doing Lejog in 9 weeks.
101 miles, 4900 ft of climbing, 12.7 average moving speed. I've cramps in my right adductor right now! I'm trying to lose 10 lb in the next 9 weeks.
I could ate fat mate the height of a bicycle