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

5 comments on “The Vee: first hundred-miler of the year”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    101 miles, 4900 ft of climbing, 12.7 average moving speed.

    That's outstanding. The average moving speed especially, over such a distance. The furthest I've cycled in one day is 70. I imagine it helps when you have company. Would you cycle 100 miles on your own? I'm not sure I would, except to prove a point I can't yet prove (it's a New Year resolution for this year).

    Photo number 4 is my favourite. So many makeovered pubs in the UK have closed that you wonder if the makeovers did the killing. 'Makeover' is an awful word. But I do enjoy whisky. Teacher's or Grant's that you can buy in England for about £15 a litre. The finest scotch I've tasted is The Macallan.

  2. Garry Lee wrote:

    I only do 100 milers when I'm trying to lose weight. It usually works!. I've often done it on my own, but only when really fit. I totally agree about pubs. What they've done to pubs is make them look "better" and much less comfortable or welcoming. I've never drunk Grant's much but like Teachers. Also like Famous Grouse (the Low Flyer). Macallan is magnificent. The other ones I really rate are Talisker, Highland Park, Scapa, Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie, Arran. In Irish, Jameson 12 yr old, Power's 12 yr. old, Midleton Very Rare, Paddy, Connemara, Tyrconnell, Locke's 8yr old, Bushmill's 16 yr old, Michael Collins single malt, and the fabulous Japanese whiskey, as good as anything, Yamazaki. If you're ever in Spain, the Spanish whiskey, DYC, cheap, cheerful and gorgeous with ice, is great. I'd better stop as I'm getting thirsty!

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Me and Mrs Taylor sometimes cycle to Southport, a pleasant town on the coast not far from Blackpool. The round trip is a flattish 60 miles from where we live. We cycle there, have Caesar Salad with chips on Lord Street in the centre, then ride along the promenade before coming home. Sandra's normal mileage is maybe 12-15 miles a couple of times a week and she does the Southport run quite easily (but slowly). I'm pretty sure I could do 100 miles and as I say, I hope to have a go during the year. I'm not sure about the 4900ft of climbing though.

    I don't go in pubs. I dislike them. They went downhill when they began with food, children, lager, background music, TV sports, car parks, makeovers, and more recently the smoking ban and unbreakable plastic glassware. Do they serve mild beer and stout any more? I don't know. I never hear them mentioned. The grotty unchanged pub in your photo looks more like my kind of place. Other than The Macallan – a darkish coloured whisky – I like the light coloured malts: Glenturret, but not in the pub.

  4. Mary wrote:

    Garry you have surpassed yourself again on the photography front, you really know how to sell your homeland! I just loved this post, and well done you to get your legs around 100 miles! My maximum so far has been 80. I cant equate the height very well, I am assuming its about 1000m of climbing and if this is so, its even more impressive to have achieved the speed you did. (I always thought Ireland was in km – have I got that wrong?)

    I keep on looking at your posts, and your photographs and the more I see, the more I fancy a cycle trip to Ireland. One day, I shall get there.... (this year its Norfolk, and next summer Lands End etc).

    How fabulous it must be, just one day to get out there with a bike, and just go and do distances..... that is one big negative about living on a small place, I do sometimes get fed up as I know all the roads, and all the routes. Yet to travel anywhere else, means an expensive boat ride and a hotel.... You are very fortunate to live in such a stunning part of the world.

  5. Kern wrote:


    The important thing about going to Ireland is to know how to get out of the cities. Now, if you're real-ly fortunate and if you're traveling to Cork, you might find a good soul who will map your exit on Google maps, personally ride the route for 50km on back roads, and then follow up with photos of key waypoints to be sure you stay on track. You can't go wrong unless you let yourself get distracted developing an opinion of Irish whiskies ...

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