Bobby Power’s Vision Realised on Sunday

By June 6, 2011 Club News

At the Carrick Wheelers’ AGM in November 2010, Bobby Power proposed that the club should run a Sportive in 2011. As he outlined the details of what he proposed, club members sat straighter in their chairs as they realised that what he was proposing was a challenge that was beyond even the fittest of most cyclists. Sportives have become the holy grail of cycling with some events extending to as long as 8 hours. Bobby proposed the ultimate Irish sportive. And, as a proud Carrick person, Bobby proposed that the event coincide with the Clancy Festival – Bobby’s mother Peg being a Clancy herself.

Bobby’s rationale was that Carrick-on-Suir has the best training roads in the country, backed by more champions than any other region in Ireland. From Sean Kelly and Bobby Power to Sam Bennett and Michael O’ Loughlin, Carrick cyclists have led the way. Tony Ryan,  Larry Power, Vincent Kelly, Raymond Power, Lenny Foley, Paddy Power, Paul Butler, Michael Woods, Brian Kenneally, Claire Moore, John O’ Shea, Sinéad Lonergan, and Martin O’ Loughlin have all led the way on a national stage in recent years based on a tradition of cycling excellence in Carrick. If we have the best cyclists, why not have the toughest event?

Bobby outlined the proposed route – a brutal 101 miles over every major climb close to  Carrick: Tullahought, Gap of Rathlarish, Slievenamon, Tickincor, and the Nire Valley Loop climbing the hard way to Powers the Pot  before a stop in Rathgormack. Then back to Carrickbeg, up Seskin Hill, over Mahon Falls and into Kilmacthomas. The piece de resistance in Bobby’s mind was a section (after 90 miles) through Curraghmore Estate on unpaved roads, passing the ancestral home of Lord Waterford. Racing bikes have very narrow tyres, unsuited to these roads. We only see cyclists racing over them in the Tour of Flanders and Paris – Roubaix.

Six months later, on May 13th 2011, Bobby Power passed away after a long and difficult fight with illness. For his family, his friends and former work colleagues in Showerings, Bobby’s passing was an indescribable loss. Led by Bobby’s son Cian, Carrick Wheelers had an opportunity to pay tribute to our former Chairman, Coach and PRO. So, the Carrick Wheelers Challenge Sportive became Bobby Power’s Carrick Wheelers Challenge Sportive.

On the day, 130 cyclists signed on at 7.30am in Carrick. As was Bobby’s vision, only 75 made it back. Over 40 club stewards were present to make it safe for all participants. Club members travelled from Cork, Limerick and Dublin to stand on road junctions with a flag and a whistle. Some started at 9.00am and finished at 6.00pm. Seasoned ‘Sportive’ participants from all over Ireland proclaimed the event as the best Irish event ever. With the roads and scenery of South Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford, how could we go wrong?

Four riders from the Netherlands have already entered for 2012. Clearly, Bobby Power has pointed the way to promote Carrick, cycling and tourism into the future.

Carrick Wheelers would like to thank the  Civil Defence, Rathgormack Hiking Centre, Carrick Swans GAA Club, Lord Waterford, and Tipperary SR, Waterford and Kilkenny County Councils. Most importantly, we thank most sincerely the Power family for allowing us to honour our Captain in the only way we know how.

Check out some fantastic pics of the event by Joe Cashin at:

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Dave Allen says:

    It was a pleasure to honour Bobby Power by riding this event.

    The early climbs were so hard they made Mahon Falls seem relatively easy.

    Great event and it deserves huge support next year and going forward.

    Recommend it to everyone.

  • Mike O Keeffe says:

    Fantastic event, I will never forget the wind over Mahon falls looking forward to next years.

  • Loughlin Ryan says:

    Had a great day out and a big hats off to all involved in the organization on the day, sorry to hear numbers were so low, looking round the car park, I would have put it at more than 130 , also surprised to hear so many pulled up!

    I only predict a bigger and better event next year, this event will really put the club on the map

  • John F Ring says:

    I couldn’t do the Wicklow 200 due to other commitments. I remember meeting a man at the Stephen Roche Tour de Cure and he was telling all and sundry about the Commeragh Challenge. I listened intently to his enthusiasm and he said it was going to be a challenge. Boy what a challenge. It is now Monday and I have stiff and sore legs. I started before anyone else as I knew I’d be swallowed up at some stage. When you thing of the Sean Kelly Tour of Waterford you think of three climbs and a lot of nice Roly – poly riding in between. Its cushy and you know with a little bit of form you will get there in the end. This was different. I did the Etape last year but there is no doubt that the climbing was cruel on this challenge. At Tigancor it was brutal just going on and on with Seskin Hill, Mahon Falls and Curraghmore to come with 3 brutal climbs already behind you! I was determined to get there in the end and the underlying thought that in the same position Bobby wouldn’t quit. It was so brilliant to finish it and the Food in Rathgormack and at the Finish was just fantastic. As they say about the Mount Leinster most people can only dream of doing it. This mantle is now solely owned by the Carrick Wheelers and the Commeragh Challenge. Many thanks to Larry and all the Power family, all the encouragement received from the bikers and stewards. For the lovely hot shower at the end and the kindness shown by the people of Carrick an Suir. Please god Ill be back next year – and I insist ye give a medal as well as a T-Shirt simply because anybody that does it deserves it
    Thsanks again
    John Ring

  • Fantastic event! Really enjoyed it, as did the other 8 Tour de Munster guys who did it with me. The course, marshaling, food, friendliness, etc. were all A1. Hats off to the organisers! The Curraghmore Strade Bianche is genius. Please don’t make the event any easier (or harder!) for next year – it’s just right as it is.

    You should, however, consider having a slightly easier and shorter version of the route to attract larger numbers. This could be achieved very easily without the need for extra marshals. For example, at the top of Tickancor, you could have an option to go left rather than doing the Nire Valley loop. And later on, there could be an option to skip the Mahon Falls climb altogether. This isn’t by any means a criticism – I absolutely loved the day! – it’s just a hopefully helpful suggestion.

  • Matt Coughlan says:

    Just to echo comments above – was a superb event from start to finish. The support crew and marshalls were superb throughout giving encourage and warnings along the way. The food to refuel at Rathgormack was excellent. Can’t speak highly enough of the event.


  • Paul Mooney says:

    A superb event. Brilliantly marshalled and organised by an obviously very pro active club. Myself and my 9 club mates from Sportif waterford CC feel very proud to have been included in the 75 riders who made it over the finish line. It’s title as being the toughest sportive in Ireland is very probably right, as no amount of hill training (which we had done in advance) could prepere you for what lay ahead. Mahon Falls is a very difficult 5k climb on fresh legs. Climbing it into a strong headwind with over 120k in those same legs is a totally different proposition. The “Strada Bianca” of Curraghmore was murder at the finish. The 6 other challenges conspired to push us all close to our limits on the day.

    The t-shirts will be worn with pride and proof positive of the great feeling of achievement having completed Bobby’s course. Roll on 2010.

    Paul Mooney
    Secretary SWCC

  • Paul Mooney says:

    Sorry that should be 2012.

  • Mick Riordan says:

    Training starts next week for 2012

  • Phil Twomey says:

    Best & Hardest days cycling I’ve ever done, I can only echo all that’s been said above, everything was superb.I’m not so sure about Mahon Falls been relatively easy compared to first few climbs(only joking) , the wind was horrific, felt I was pedalling and getting no where.
    I’d love to know who was the poor soul waiting at the top to cheer people on, she was tougher than any of us, at least we were moving and keeping warm.
    Anyway Roll on 2012..already looking forward to it.

  • Congratulations to all at Carrig . It was a truly impressive day … super route , food , and well organised . Thanks to all .

    BTW …..Mahon falls in the wind ….. I was never so happy to take on that last steep LH incline to the top of MFs….. with the wind at my back , it seemed “easy”

  • Paul Mooney says:

    @Phil Twomey. The “poor soul” as you put it a girl called Maeve Egan who is a member of Sportif Waterford CC. She followed the 10 of us around the full route for the day offering food, assistance and lots of encouragement along the way. We will be forever in her debt. Thanks Maeve.

  • Sean Mohally says:

    To add my two cents, well done to all at Carrick Wheelers for putting together such a tough event. From concept through to execution it lived up to it’s billing as the toughest Sportive I’ve ever done. Food was fantastic, but was seconded only by the marshalling in my opinion. Loved the Strada Bianche (spelling?) as it offered something truly different. but my toughest challenge on the day was also Mahon Falls in the wind. I think I managed a track stand at one point when the gusts picked up and my progress became so slow on the S bends.
    Will wear the t-shirt with pride!
    Well done to all involved.

  • Paul Butler says:

    I would like to show my appreciation to Carrick Wheelers for running a truly amazing event last Sunday, and it was a very fitting tribute to the legend that the event is named after.
    The route and attitude of the team that organised the event was unbelievable and a credit to all
    When looking at the route it’s very true what Bobby said that Carrick-on-Suir has the best training roads in the country.
    Having raced and trained with Bobby during his very successful career we learned so much from him by just being in the same group on the road ,what gear to be in , what side of the wheel to ride on and most importantly when to attack and a true gentle man on and off the bike.
    Again I wish the event every success in the future and can confirm that this is one of the hardest events that I hard cycled in.

    Best Regards

    Paul Butler

  • Roger Broadhurst says:


    Just wanted to say thank you to everyone involved in organising and running the sportive on Sunday.

    A few things I want to say thanks for in particular:

    The marshaling was exceptional: every junction and every tricky corner was taken care of.

    The section through the Curraghmore Estate was something very special; I’d never experienced anything like it before and certainly won’t forget it.

    I enjoyed the “preview” route descriptions, photos and videos on the web site; they were very well done and helped to build up a sense of anticipation which added to my enjoyment of the event.

    I hope you’ll be running this again; I’ll certainly be back.

    Roger Broadhurst.

  • John Ring says:

    A week and a half later and I still check back on the Website for some reason. It was such a special sportif and I can’t wait till next year. Up Tipp!!


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