Jamie Blanchfield is the man who got me round the Ronde this year and now has branched out with his own company, premierendurance.ie. So I flicked him a Whatsapp and asked him for his favourite training route, here’s what he had to say.
Living in Clonmel I’m blessed to have the Comeragh Mountains and the Knockmealdowns right on my doorstep. When I’m out training or just riding my bike I like to head for the hills, perhaps not so much when racing! I’ve rode my bike in a lot of places, but nothing beats my home roads on a sunny day. My favourite of which takes in The Vee, Knockboy and the foothills of the Comeraghs.
Heading out from Clonmel on the wood road towards Knocklofty you swing a right towards Grange some ways up the infamous kick toward Ardfinnan, there’s usually a dog that is more than happy to make you practice your sprint training here! Twisting narrow lanes shoot you back out onto the main road where you’ll head straight through the crossroad direction Newcastle. This road is narrow and rolly filled with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes. Before you know it you’re in Newcastle, swing a right and head towards Clogheen and “The Vee”.
The Vee is a solid climb straight up out of Clogheen and into the Knockmealdowns, but it’s steady where you can settle into a rhythm quickly. A few kilometres up you hit a hairpin bend where the whole of South Tipperary opens up for you, or you see a wall of cloud, depending on the weather. It’s obligatory to snap some kind of photo here just watch out for the sheep and stray tourists stepping in front of you. Another few kilometres up you’ll pass Bay Lough on your right, the mirror like surface reflects the green forest which surrounds the lake and is always worth a glance down. Once you emerge over the crest of the climb you’re greeted with a view of Lismore, Dungarvan and the surrounding countryside.
You’ll have to pedal down this descent towards Cappoquin it’s not majorly fast and the surface isn’t great but it’s a relief from the previous eight kilometres uphill. Here you’ll pass the road for Mount Mellary where you can go say “Hi!” to the monks if you’re that way inclined or you can wait for the next left hand turn which brings you up another climb sending you on the return leg. I’m not too sure of the name of this one, it’s known as Knockboy on Strava, but it’s roughly six kilometres long at 4% with some steeper pitches! Look back over your shoulder toward the top of this one and you should be able to make out the coast line by Ardmore.
Descending into Newcastle and dodging the various animals that may, or may not, impede you you’ll be back to an earlier cross road. Swinging right here direction Clonmel you’ll end up on the main Dungarvan road, I’ll always glance back over and up towards the mountains I’m just after traveling through. It’s a great view when the sun is shining. This main road descends gradually all the way back into Clonmel, bar the odd kick, so it’s a nice way to end the spin……and get the average speed up!!
More details of the full ride are here on Jamie’s Strava – https://www.strava.com/activities/1679945284/overview