The Loftus Hall Cycling Team is the only Irish team to participate in the second edition of the Haute Route cyclosports event, which is renowned for being the most challenging cycling event on the world-wide amateur cycling circuit. The event takes place from 19th – 25th August 2012, from Geneva to Nice, and is a seven-day trans-Alpine epic cycle challenge in which cyclists cover 780 km and 21,000 meters of ascents, taking in some of the toughest stages of the Tour de France route.
To showcase the quality of Irish cycling, Loftus Hall is supporting Ireland’s only team – a mixed-sex team of nine well known Irish amateur cyclists (8 men, 1 woman) from Dublin, Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Clare and Limerick. Leaving Geneva, Switzerland, on 19th August, the Loftus Hall Haute Route Team joined over 500 other participants drawn from 27 countries, to complete the ultimate cycling challenge in the world.
Over 7 days, cyclists will cover 780 km and 21,000 meters of ascent, featuring seven world famous cities and mountain resorts: Geneva, Megève, Courchevel, Alpe d’Huez, Risoul, Auron and Nice. 19 mythical Alpine cols will challenge cyclists over the 7 timed stages, including Madeleine, Glandon, Izoard, Cime de la Bonette and the famous climb to Alpe d’Huez for an epic individual time trial.
“The Haute Route is the toughest mental and physical challenge an amateur cyclist can undertake. The Loftus Hall Cycle team has been training for 5 months to ensure that they are ready to compete with some of the world’s best amateur cyclists and hopefully continue Ireland’s run of sporting successes”, said Aidan Quigley, Loftus Hall Haute Route Team.
Information about Loftus Hall
Loftus Hall, situated on the Hook peninsula, Co. Wexford, recently re-opened its doors to the public as a sporting and outdoor adventure retreat following an extensive refurbishment. Loftus Hall was originally built in 1350 although the existing building dates back to 1870. Loftus Hall is said to be Ireland’s most haunted house.
The new Loftus Hall offers outdoor adventure pursuits, novel accommodation options (including “glamping” or glamorous camping), high spec bike rental and animated house tours, to invoke the imaginations of those with supernatural interests.
The official launch will take place in October 2012 although Loftus Hall has been open on a limited basis since June. The outdoor adventure activities combined with the spectacular scenery, modern facilities and affordable prices, are a welcome addition to the local tourism attractions in the region.
THERESA HEFFERNAN – DUBLIN
Hi my name is Theresa. I live in Dublin and I’m a scientist, working as scientific recruitment consultant. I’ve been cycling for about five years; I initially joined the Dundrum Orwell Wheelers, but I soon formed my own group of cycling buddies that I now train with. I’m active on the cycling scene, frequently competing in sportives around the country. I met Aidan at last years gruelling Wicklow200, during a tortuous ascent of the shay Elliot! We maintained contact and often met at various cycling events. I was delighted when he asked me to be on the Loftus Hall Haute Route team!
I’ve trained extremely hard this year. I recently took up a new job, which put training on the back burner over the last month or so, but I’ve put in a consistent effort since last summer averaging about 200-300km per wk, mostly at weekends (Fri-Sun) with some midweek efforts too. Before the intense cycling training began, around March, I used to run a lot, box, swim, paddleboard and snorkel! Super active! So I feel confident entering the Haute Route and I’m excited about the challenges ahead of me; partaking in the Haute Route is a dream come true for me. Let the clock begin! une, deux, trois…
AIDAN QUIGLEY – WEXFORD
In 2008 I made a life changing decision to purchase a bike on ebay to train for the Chicago Triathlon as I had agreed to participate to raise funds for Crumlin Childrens Hospital, even though I couldn’t swim at the time and I was a heavy smoker and very overweight.
One year later and I had completed my first Ironman in Frankfurt and had spent a year falling in love with cycling. I set up Hibernia Cycling Tours in 2010 to provide a different type of cycling experience both at home and abroad with a strong emphasis on getting people started or back on the bike. We sponsored a new club Cycle 4 Sick Children which became the Cycling Club of the year 2011. It was whilst in France for l’etape du tour Act 1 that the idea of Haute Route first emerged and as with all ideas this was quickly adapted as a plan for 2012.
I opened my new business in Loftus Hall during the summer of 2012 bringing a combination of outdoor activities with an indoor experience of a more supernatural type. Haute Route was the perfect fit for Loftus Hall an epic event taking us over the highest points in Europe, where better to announce your arrival than the top of Alp d’huez. It has been great watching the efforts of all nine team members as they have prepared for this epic challenge giving up their valuable free time doing long training rides. I would have preferred to have trained more for this event but I will go to the start line in Geneva with a great team to support each other and the Loftus Boar on our backs to scare off the demons.
How do I feel now three days before the start?
Can’t wait, bring it on!
BRIAN NEVIS -ENNIS
Hey I’m Brian Nevin and I’m really looking forward to the Haute Route. I turned 40 this year so I think that makes me the most senior of the group- so I may be forgiven for having some senior moments !
I was aiming to take on a life challenge to mark my milestone birthday-I had my sights set on an Ironman until Aidan persuaded me to take on the Haute Route( it didnt take much persuasion to be fair!)
I’ve trained hard for this – I will have over 7000km’s cycled since January so it’s been a large commitment. I’ve had to sacrifice plenty of weekends with my girlfriend and mates but it will all be worth it when we roll into Nice.
I’m not a natural climber so I’ve had to work hard on the hills. I’m a member of Dolmen CC in Ennis and Shannonside CC in athlone (I work in Athlone 4 days a week for Athlone IT)
I’d like to thank club members from both clubs for the great advise on our cycles, Keith Fox from action Physio in Arhlone for putting me back together several times , and my better half Mary for listening to endless waffle about cycling. Huge thanks to Aidan in Loftus Hall for pulling this whole trip together!
NICK EUSTACE – MEATH
I work as the IT Director for the International law firm Eversheds in Dublin, and live in Meath.
I’ve always loved cycling, but life, and work, got in the way. I started smoking, got lazy and fat. Then my son Benjamin started to nag me about smoking and how bad it was for me, so, with a lot of help and patience from my wife and children, I gave up smoking. Thankfully, this patience has extended to my newfound cycling addiction. But they know that it keeps my type II diabetes at bay, and has helped me lose over 60lbs in the past few years.
I was introduced to the Etape du Tour by my brother in law, Lloyd Scott, and with his advice re training I completed the 2009 edition. It helped as well that I joined his club at that time, Swords CC, and got in on their racing training spins. I dipped my toes into racing and am CAT 3 – even placing third in one race – but really do not do enough as I am always training for endurance events rather than for racing.
For the 2011 Etape I decided that I should try and raise money for charity through my cycling and raised several thousand Euros for Barretstown – A Hole in the Wall Gang charity. There was an immense pleasure in knowing that what I was doing was helping sick children.
This year I knew I had to do more for children in need, and doing the Haute Route for Charity seemed right.
I have been pretty petrified at the enormity of the challenge, but I WILL finish!
ALAN GALAVAN- CARLOW
My name is Alan AKA Gally. I have ben cycling for around 5 years and racing for 4 years. Before taking up cycling I played rugby at the highest amature level in Ireland, I regularly lined out against professional players from the Irish team so I’m well use to punishment.. Hard and all that the Rugby was notting prepared me for the suffering you can put yourself through on a bike!! However it’s this suffering that has me looking forward to the Haute Route, Sun and Col’s for a week is like a dream come through.. Training has been going well and after a year of A1 racing in Ireland I am as ready as I will ever be!!
CHRIS BELLEW – MEATH
Hi My name is Christopher Bellew, Im 31 and from Bettystown, Co Meath, but have been living in Dublin for over 13 years . I have been working in Dublin as a Professional Photographer in dublin for 11 years . About 5 of years ago i took up triathlon and really enjoyed it, but found that my biking always lost me the most time on the course and when there was climb involved , i went backwards. So i thought , the only way to get better at hills is to climb them , over and over and over again.
Last year i completed the ‘Etape’ in france as part of a group which was organized by Aidan Quigley , where ameture cyclists get to cycle a stage route of the Tour de France, and when i finished i thought to myself, ” i want to do another one of those’ . So , again this year , after speaking to Aidan I decided to join the guys and give the ‘Haute Route’ a go. So with thousands of miles in my legs and over 8kg lost , in weight , which brings me down to 67kg, some great understanding from family , friends & Fiancee ,im almost set to join team ‘Loftus Hall’ and try and enjoy what will undoubtedly be a race against yourself . Mind over matter here for sure.
LYNN HAYDEN – CARLOW
Bonjour mon amis, I’m Lynn Hayden. I’m studying a Sport Science degree in I.T. Carlow. The Haute Route is an event that I’m eager to meet all it’s challenges…..stages, distance, and ascents/descents. I have previous experience completing the Transalp 2008 in the mountain bike discipline and found the physical/mental aspect a turn on……hoping/knowing the Haute Route will provide the same!! The other competitions completed are L’Etape du Tour ’09 and ’10 and experienced 2011 edition as part of Hibernia Cycle Tours support team. I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to compete in a European stage race for awhile but a big thanks to Aidan and Loftus Hall team. I would like to wish all competitors the best in attaining their personal goals!!! Bonne chance!!! P.S. If the Bear is reading this…BRING IT!!!(Private joke)
ED O’CONNELL – LIMERICK
Hey Edward O’Connell here got back to cycling about 3years ago and never thought I’d be racing never mind taking on the haute route! I’d like to thank all the people at Loftus Hall for sponsoring this and hope i can do them justice on the route. Can’t remember the last time I was out with friends – since I got the call to do this I’ve lived on the bike including a few days on alpe d’huez, which was a major eye opener over 8000k done in training for this and about 65000 metres climbed in training for this event! Looking forward to it now I’d like to wish all my team mates the best of luck on the route I know they’ve all been training just as hard. And to my club c4sc of the well wishes. Well see you all in Geneva and hopefully all make it too nice safe and sound. See you all on the road!