Gravel ride on the road less traveled

Cycling takes many forms with a lot of different types of bikes. Of late, gravel biking has taken off and cyclists have taken to the trails, boreieens and byways to explore the way less travelled.

Gravel Grind West taking place on September 17th and 18th in Westport, bringing the biggest gravel biking event of its kind ever to be held in the Republic of Ireland to Westport, “the adventure capital of Ireland”. The organisers have designed the routes using local knowledge and the Komoot map tracking app for adventurers. The aim of this is to bring cycling back to its roots and get cyclists exploring the tracks less travelled.

With four different events of varying difficulty, fun, and adventure to choose from. Cyclists from all disciplines will find a route and challenge to enjoy over the Gravel Grind West weekend in Westport.

Enjoy the stunning scenery, off-road routes, and adventure in every turn in Gravel Grind West. Participants will cycle on unique sections of routes unavailable outside of this exciting event, guaranteeing a great adventure of exploration and fun.

On Saturday the 17th participants can get a feel for dust and downhill riding with the gravel taster “The Skelp Blast”. This is a 26-kilometer time-trial against the clock that will give the beginner off-roader a chance to experience gravel biking at first-hand.  The more experienced rider can give it everything to power up the climb, everyone is guaranteed to have burning legs as the propel themselves around the course. The reward will be stunning backdrop as sun sets on the majestic Clew Bay! Riders will cross the finish line on top of Skelp after an exhilarating and fun cycling experience off the beaten track.

On Sunday the 18th of September there are three route options, both achievable for the novice and experienced gravel rider.  The Bothy 70k is perfect for those new to gravel, with the route broken down as follows: 15% of the route is using the Greenway, 45% on quiet back roads, and 40% on gravel/fire track.

“The Wild Nephin 110” as the name suggests is more suited to those who are seeking a challengingly wild adventure on two wheels into the heart of the Wild Nephin National Park. This route offers riders a challenge that will test and excite them, making them hungry for more as they grind across the gravel towards the finish line. The route features approximately 15k of Greenway, 35k of quiet back roads, and 60k of gravel of all types. For those looking for that bit extra the “Wild Nephin Rocky” is 135 km and involves a causeway crossing, steep climbs, and hike-the-bike sections for a real adventurous day out.

Partnering with the event this year are the Towers Bar and Restaurant Westport, Komoot outdoor activities tracking app, Hotel Newport, Westport Bike Shop Ltd, Marrey Bikes,, Westport house and Destination Westport.  

Speaking about the event Tom Bourke of the Towers bar and restaurant said “Gravel biking is fast becoming a mainstream adventure activity, last year participants got the opportunity to see what’s out there, every week  I see them calling in after a gravel ride locally and they all come in exhilarated, sometimes we don’t appreciate what’s right on our doorstep. When participants finish we will be waiting here outside the Towers to hand them a beverage and a burger to help replenish their tired bodies

 Anthony Murray Westport bike shop had this to say “ any activity that promotes health and well-being has to be supported, the fact that it’s a safe form of exploring. Cycling is good for us as people always look for more activities to take on, using a track to find a historic Mass rock or climb to a beauty spot is what the outdoors are all about, the tracks are brilliant as you generally have them to yourself with only the odd sheep or deer for company. 

Bryan Hyland joint event organiser said “We are delighted to bring the Gravel Grind West to Westport, we encourage all cyclists and especially those looking to challenge themselves or to try something new in cycling to get involved and sign up to enjoy one or more of the events. You can use any type of off-road bike from a full-sus MTB to an entry-level gravel bike for all events over the weekend. We will even allow E-Bikes on Sunday’s two events The Bothy and Wild Nephin“

Gravel Grind West couldn’t happen without the support of Coillte, the Great Western Greenway, South West Mayo Development Company, Westport House camping and caravanning,, Mayo county council, Burrishoole walks, and the Wild Nephin National parks,

The main sponsors of the event are The Towers bar and restaurant and Westport Bike shop with support from Hotel Newport, Nuasan, Marrey Bikes and Del &Lee jewelry,

For more details and to sign up, go to the event page