Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia Northern Ireland 2017 – Mourne Route
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Mourne Route Elevation Gain 2424m (8000 ft)
The 2016 Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia saw thousands of cyclists tackling some of the most historic and iconic climbs in Northern Ireland. Fully closed roads made the event a truly once in a lifetime experience for all participants. The routes for the 2017 event will remain the same with the possibility of some minor changes.
The 175km loop will pass over mountains and hills steeped in Irish history with the opportunity to view the beauty of the country from the highest mountain peaks to the Loughs and sea.
Upon starting at Titanic Belfast, you will leave the city on the rolling and twisting roads of Co. Down to guide you towards to mountain roads that will greet you after 42km. First up is the steep Monte Dree Hill, which has the ancient Slieve Croob as a backdrop. This is a designated area of natural beauty with the source of the River Lagan starting as a stream from the top of this mountain and running all the way to Belfast Lough. After the country lanes and smooth twisting roads descending off your first climb you will begin your passage through towns and villages such as the hill top towns of Rathfriland and Hilltown as you head closer to the biggest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains. You will ride up the gradual climb of Monte Leitrim Hill with the beautiful Carlingford Lough in the backround with its high mountain slopes surrounding this exceptional sea inlet.
Once over Monte Leitrim you will ride further into the Mourne Mountains were you will be at the foot of the jewel of the Gran Fondo Northern Ireland, the climb of Monte Spelga Dam. The steep switch backs and the high peaks will greet your entrance to this climb which will see you hit the “roof” of the Gran Fondo with the highest elevation for the route at its peak. Views across Co. Down to Co. Armagh are both breath taking and spectacular with one of Northern Ireland’s largest reservoirs in sight once you hit the top of the mountain. You will stay within the Mourne Mountains as you descend alongside Tollymore Forest Park and into the village of Bryansford before starting the homeward trip and the last challenges that await you.
Passing through Castlewellan with its wide main street which runs through two main squares lined with chestnut trees, the fast descent out of the town will be a nice reprieve before you begin the last climb of the day to Monte Slieve Croob. This long climb will once again take you to a peak that will pass through the ancient hills. Folklore tells that 12 kings are buried at the top of the mountain. You will be greeted at the top with views to Lough Neagh and many of Northern Ireland’s counties and towns.
Your last leg home will pass through Dromara town and into Saintfield on rolling roads before the gradual descent into Belfast city with views of the entire city and Belfast Lough to greet you on your return before the finish at Titanic Belfast.
Mourne Route GPX File
Gran Fondo Giro D’Italia Northern Ireland 2017 – Strangford Route'" scrolling="auto" >
Strangford Route Elevation Gain 597m (1955 ft)
The 58km route will prove challenging and enjoyable for all levels of cycling enthusiasts. If you are new to cycling events or want to set yourself a personal challenge to help boost your fitness and experience that “Giro feeling,” then this route is for you.
Leaving the Titanic Belfast start, you will ride 58km of rolling roads with two categorised climbs. The first challenge of the day will take place within the first 6km when you will tackle Monte Braniel. A gradual climb that will give you beautiful views of the city and across Belfast Lough once you reach the top. Completing the first real challenge of the day will set you up for a beautiful ride on the rolling roads around some of Co. Down’s villages with the beauty of Strangford Lough to keep you company for much of this route. The lough is almost totally enclosed by the Ards Peninsula. The main body of the lough has at least seventy islands along with many islets, bays, coves, headlands and mudflats that you will pass during your ride. It is a conservation area and its abundant wildlife is recognised internationally.
Once leaving the Peninsula you will pass through the historic town of Comber before starting the climb of Monte Moneyreagh which will be your last climb of the day. This section will guide you through the rolling hills of North Down with the twisting and smooth road helping you enjoy your last challenge of the day. Once you have crested the final climb you will begin your homeward journey which will have you descending into Belfast city with the view of the famous Harland and Wolff cranes in the distance along with the twinkle of the iconic Titanic Museum which signals the finish of your challenge. The descent into the city will be the perfect way to finish your ride with satisfaction and pride in your performance. Time for some post ride pasta!
Strangford Route GPX File