Rolling in County Tyrone
Location: Omagh, Northern Ireland
Author: Marc Potts
Country Tyrone is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland and the home of Omagh- the town that I grew up in and the birthplace of my passion for the sport of cycling. It is a sprawling hilly region that is replete with ancient forests and numerous examples of unspoilt scenery, that, more often than not, are off the beaten tourist tracks.
The area itself is incredibly beautiful and this is one of the reasons why you’re likely to meet other cyclists when you’re out training. For those not familiar with Northern Ireland, I would begin by recommending the rolling roads through the scenic Sperrin Mountains - especially the Glenelly Road, which is known and loved by all local cyclists.
One of the main reasons that I love riding at home is because it is a great place for me to switch my brain off and get the hard work done on the roads that I’ve grown up on, and, without which, I would not be the rider that I am today. Though it must be said that the roads can prove to be heavy and unrewarding at times, the views are quite the opposite.
Having spent a lot of time abroad over the last few years for training and racing, I think I am now at the point where I really appreciate riding on the roads that I grew up on. If you gave me the choice between County Tyrone and the hills of Girona, five times out of ten i would choose Tyrone.
I also like the fact that County Tyrone provides different challenges throughout the seasons. I’ve ridden these roads in the middle of the winter with sleet and hail building up on my helmet. I’ve also ridden them in the middle of the summer when it has been upwards of 30 degrees. I would probably recommend the summer ride!
Landmarks - When you ride into ‘Cranagh’ turn up ‘Park Road’ for a climb that is better known by locals as ‘The Beast’ - despite having been dropped on this climb a few times, I still love it because the view from the top is amazing.
Local independent bike shop - Caldwell Cycles, Omagh.
Local independent cafe - McGlaughlins Bakery, Cookstown.