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Royal Canal on a Road Bike

  • 01-06-2017 5:02pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 2,183 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    I know there have been other threads over the years on this, some of them covering the full length of the canal and others the Dublin commuter belt. This is just some thoughts following a recent spin from Cross Guns bridge (Phibsboro) to Kilcock. The bike was my Van Nicholas Ventus with 25mm Conti GP4000 tyres, the conditions were good after a longish dry spell and my route is here: https://www.relive.cc/view/1012652493

    From Cross Guns to Ashtown, the path is tarmacadamed but in varied condition. It ranges from about 3m wide at first to a narrow section near Broombridge that is a bit rough in places. Along by the Rathbourne/Pelletstown housing, it is fine but there are a number of barriers and kissing gates that are a pain.

    From Ashtown to Castleknock/Blanchardstown it is great but a little beyond the railway station, you enter the Deep Sinking, probably the worst section of the whole canal. Not only is it narrow with a steep drop on one side but the surface is a mixture of clay, rocks and exposed tree roots. It's doable in dry conditions if you have good balance and bike skills but even walking it when it's wet is a pain. This section is a bit under 2km long and you emerge from it (hopefully) at Porterstown Road.

    From here on, the path runs along the north bank of the canal and is a mix of blinded stone, short stretches of tarmacadam and longish sections of grass/clay. The blinded stone is fine to cycle on in the dry and it's possible to keep up quite a good speed, dogs and pedestrians permitting. The Tarmac is fine but limited to a few area near Leixlip and Maynooth and a great new stretch at Kilcock. The grassy sections are ok when dry if you can stay in the worn clay tracks. These are generally quite smooth but some are below the level of the grass and can catch you out if you touch the edges. Cycling on the grass is slower and quite bumpy.

    I stopped this time a little beyond Kilcock as the next section to Enfield is nearly all grass. On a previous spin to Mullingar, this had not been cut for some time and I had to stop a few time to clear it from the derailleur. When cut, it can still be a bit bumpy although it's a nice section for a walk! In Kilcock I had a great scone and coffee in Timeless opposite the church where they told me they were getting a track pump for cyclists in need.

    The way back from Maynooth on is one of my favourite routes into Dublin, staying away from main roads and entering the Phoenix Park at Farmleigh. The average speed obviously picked up but the canal route is quieter and more attractive. I rejoined the canal at Ashtown for the final leg back to Cross Guns.

    Even in dry conditions, a bike with wider tyres and suspension would make the trip more enjoyable. In wet conditions, it would be almost essential. Notwithstanding this, it's well worth trying on a road bike and you can always bail out onto the roads or a train.


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Comments

  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,797 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Weepsie


    The history behind the deep sinking is testament to how long stupid ideas have won out because of vested interests in Ireland.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,605 ✭✭✭ Annie get your Run


    I can't believe you cycled on that awful bit around Coolmine, is deep sinking the official name? I tried running that last year and was slowed to a walk in many places - would be terrified to try on the bike. Great post though, would definitely like to try other sections of it by bike.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,455 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    what is the history behind this deep sinking?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,358 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    Weepsie wrote: »
    The history behind the deep sinking is testament to how long stupid ideas have won out because of vested interests in Ireland.

    Certainly a bit ropey to cycle, hence the no cycling signs either end, but also enchanting if a bit spooky. Has a feel to it of taking one of the less used routes into Mordor. FWIW, even on the CX bike I get off and push at the narrower bit (wimp that I am) but still enjoy the place.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 15,797 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Weepsie


    what is the history behind this deep sinking?

    The Royal Canal was originally planned to take a different route, but the Duke of Leinster insisted on it being rerouted to pass Carton House. What stood in the way was a great big load of rock, and it was expensive to blast through and slowed the canal build down hugely and saw its cost soar.


    This guy here has a bit about it

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/bbusschots/6976294706


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,216 ✭✭✭ AmberGold


    Did it a few years ago on the Long Heron Audax. I was on a road bike with 23's and mudguards, I was the only one not to puncture, others had 28's and the odd mountain bike, sacralidge for an Audax ride.

    Grass getting caught under the guards was an issue from time to time.

    The ride itself is a killer, more or less 80k on track / grass, legs were hanging off.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,183 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    The Deep Sinking certainly has its moments but most of it isn't too bad if it's dry. As mentioned in Weepsie's linked article, there was a major accident here in 1845 when a passenger barge sank after hitting the bank. More details at http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=83643699

    I would be interested in anyone's recent experience of cycling the section west of Enfield. My memory of it as far as the Hill of Down is a bit vague but I don't remember any of it being as bad as Kilcock to Enfield. As I understand it, once you get to Westmeath just beyond the Hill of Down, it's great as the County Council have recently invested heavily in it. From Mullingar you have the options of staying on the restored canal towpath to the county boundary near Ballymahon, heading to Athlone on the new greenway or hopping on a train back to Dublin.

    All of this is due to be upgraded once the other County Councils follow Westmeath's example, sooner rather than later I hope.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,455 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    Weepsie wrote: »
    The Royal Canal was originally planned to take a different route, but the Duke of Leinster insisted on it being rerouted to pass Carton House. What stood in the way was a great big load of rock, and it was expensive to blast through and slowed the canal build down hugely and saw its cost soar.
    interesting - we used to go fishing on the section between castleknock and coolmine stations (i grew up about 100m from the canal) and never knew this.


  • Registered Users Posts: 97 ✭✭✭ Rokta


    Thanks for that, I was always wondering what that part was about. I enjoyed riding that part back in the days when I still had my MTB. :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 289 ✭✭ TooObvious


    Well done doing the canal on a road bike. I did it to Ballymahon on my CX bike 3 years back and it was a great day out.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ Chuchote


    The Deep Sinking visited by Dick Warner



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,010 ✭✭✭ mr spuckler


    As I understand it, once you get to Westmeath just beyond the Hill of Down, it's great as the County Council have recently invested heavily in it. From Mullingar you have the options of staying on the restored canal towpath to the county boundary near Ballymahon, heading to Athlone on the new greenway or hopping on a train back to Dublin.

    All of this is due to be upgraded once the other County Councils follow Westmeath's example, sooner rather than later I hope.

    yes beyond Hill of Down is great, i cycled it on a carbon road bike a couple of years ago just as the Athlone greenway was due to open.

    funding was recently allocated (according to this) for the completion of Maynooth to the Hill of Down. It's previously been stated that it should be complete in 2018.

    edit: i'm from Athlone but live in Dublin so the completion of this will make a huge difference to me for weekend bike based visits home!


  • Registered Users Posts: 355 ✭✭ loudymacloud


    yes beyond Hill of Down is great, i cycled it on a carbon road bike a couple of years ago just as the Athlone greenway was due to open.

    funding was recently allocated (according to this) for the completion of Maynooth to the Hill of Down. It's previously been stated that it should be complete in 2018.

    it is a great section alright, did it last summer, planning to go again in a few weeks. Really enjoyed it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,183 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    Chuchote wrote: »
    The Deep Sinking visited by Dick Warner

    Thanks for posting that Chuchote. I'd forgotten how enjoyable and perfectly paced it is.


  • Registered Users Posts: 355 ✭✭ loudymacloud


    yes beyond Hill of Down is great, i cycled it on a carbon road bike a couple of years ago just as the Athlone greenway was due to open.

    funding was recently allocated (according to this) for the completion of Maynooth to the Hill of Down. It's previously been stated that it should be complete in 2018.

    edit: i'm from Athlone but live in Dublin so the completion of this will make a huge difference to me for weekend bike based visits home!

    From Athlone but living in Dublin too, will definitely make a difference. Cant wait.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,497 ✭✭✭ De Bhál


    Is the full distance possible on a bike at the moment, I'm planning on giving it a go in early July?
    Thought I read somewhere on here about works on one section forcing you onto the road or something.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,781 ✭✭✭ Carawaystick


    You can't get from Seville place to north strand road (yet) as a train line blocks the way. A bridge is planned


    From Hill of Down west to the next bridge is a public road, but isn't there still a very rough mile or 2 on south bank to Westmeath border?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,497 ✭✭✭ De Bhál


    You can't get from Seville place to north strand road (yet) as a train line blocks the way. A bridge is planned


    From Hill of Down west to the next bridge is a public road, but isn't there still a very rough mile or 2 on south bank to Westmeath border?

    ok, in fairness i'm not too woried about the bits in the city as i'd get around them easily enough, just thinking about out in the middle of the country and having to do a long detour.

    I found the thread that i mentioned above and the poster says the canal towpath in unpassable around Moyvalley due to works.

    I've emailed Waterways Ireland


  • Registered Users Posts: 355 ✭✭ loudymacloud


    You can't get from Seville place to north strand road (yet) as a train line blocks the way. A bridge is planned


    From Hill of Down west to the next bridge is a public road, but isn't there still a very rough mile or 2 on south bank to Westmeath border?

    there is, but manageable enough if its not wet


  • Registered Users Posts: 712 ✭✭✭ devonp


    AmberGold wrote: »
    Did it a few years ago on the Long Heron Audax. I was on a road bike with 23's and mudguards, I was the only one not to puncture, others had 28's and the odd mountain bike, sacralidge for an Audax ride.

    last yr i did it on an MTB(no regrets), mea culpa ??

    i sometimes commute out through the DS to leixlip,there is a very short stretch (maybe 20-30m) of the DS with some exposed bedrock which can be treacherous when wet


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,183 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro




  • Registered Users Posts: 2,183 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    devonp wrote: »
    i sometimes commute out through the DS to leixlip,there is a very short stretch (maybe 20-30m) of the DS with some exposed bedrock which can be treacherous when wet

    This might be the bit of the Deep Sinking you're referring to:
    image.jpgimage sharing


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,358 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    This might be the bit of the Deep Sinking you're referring to

    Last time I was down there, there were a few short collapsed parts on that rooted section, don't know if its been patched since. The sign at the start is fair warning ;)


    419193.JPG


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,010 ✭✭✭ mr spuckler


    with multiple tyre tracks visible in the mud :)

    i watched that documentary linked earlier in the thread as i'd never heard of the deep sinking, definitely keen to wander down for a look at some stage though might be on foot for now . is it reasonably accessible from the road?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,358 Mod ✭✭✭✭ smacl


    with multiple tyre tracks visible in the mud :)

    i watched that documentary linked earlier in the thread as i'd never heard of the deep sinking, definitely keen to wander down for a look at some stage though might be on foot for now . is it reasonably accessible from the road?

    Its actually fine by bike (hybrid, MTB, CX) once you're sensible and get off and push for any short stretches you're not comfortable with. The narrow rooted bits are short enough. I got onto it here by coming out of the Asthown gates of the Phoenix park.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,010 ✭✭✭ mr spuckler


    it's not that i'm concerned about being able to cycle / navigate it, moreso that i struggle to get out for spins long enough to get me there at the moment!

    so am most likely to take the young lad for a walk rather than cycle it right now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,681 ✭✭✭✭ P_1




  • Registered Users Posts: 3,010 ✭✭✭ velo.2010


    Thinking that the route along the canal from Maynooth to Kilcock had been tarmacked, I went down that way last week. Got onto the canal path and found it to be that loose bitumen/asphalt surface - completely inappropriate for road bikes and skinny tyres. Tried again from the Kilcock side and the same thing. The only piece that is properly surfaced is the one kilometre stretch approaching the town from the Maynooth side. I'm guessing that was done for photographic purposes when the upgrade to the quayside in Kilcock was completed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,183 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    P_1 wrote: »
    Is it from this spot the Royal Canal Way becomes all smooth and road bike friendly going West?
    Maybe even from a bit further east on the county boundary.
    velo.2010 wrote: »
    Thinking that the route along the canal from Maynooth to Kilcock had been tarmacked, I went down that way last week. Got onto the canal path and found it to be that loose bitumen/asphalt surface - completely inappropriate for road bikes and skinny tyres. Tried again from the Kilcock side and the same thing. The only piece that is properly surfaced is the one kilometre stretch approaching the town from the Maynooth side. I'm guessing that was done for photographic purposes when the upgrade to the quayside in Kilcock was completed.

    Was able to average about 23kph on the blinded stone sections on 25mm tyres. There has been a lot of debate elsewhere as to whether the full route to Galway should be Tarmac or a mix of blinded stone on the rural sections and Tarmac near towns. This seems to be Waterways Ireland preference and I for one would have no problem with it.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ Chuchote


    Maybe even from a bit further east on the county boundary.

    Was able to average about 23kph on the blinded stone sections on 25mm tyres. There has been a lot of debate elsewhere as to whether the full route to Galway should be Tarmac or a mix of blinded stone on the rural sections and Tarmac near towns. This seems to be Waterways Ireland preference and I for one would have no problem with it.

    What's blinded stone when it's at home?


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