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Barrow Way

  • 25-03-2019 3:29pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    Goes south from around Robertstown. Has anyone cycled it?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 289 ✭✭ TooObvious


    Yeah, I've cycled some of it. I cycled almost to Athy one day from Robertstown, then on another day I cycled from Athy to slightly beyond Carlow. The latter was late last year, and the conditions from about 5km after Carlow the going was very tough and not (at the time) really suitable for bikes.

    It's interesting to see how the short bits of canal are interspersed along the rivers edge.

    I'd bring a CX bike or gravel bike


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    TooObvious wrote: »
    Yeah, I've cycled some of it. I cycled almost to Athy one day from Robertstown, then on another day I cycled from Athy to slightly beyond Carlow. The latter was late last year, and the conditions from about 5km after Carlow the going was very tough and not (at the time) really suitable for bikes.

    It's interesting to see how the short bits of canal are interspersed along the rivers edge.

    I'd bring a CX bike or gravel bike

    Thanks. I’ll be using a fat bike. I’ve covered the entirety of both the Grand and Royal, so this is the last bit.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,093 ✭✭✭ Peterx


    It's ridable to St. Mullins. We stopped in Graignamanagh - which is very nice as it comes into view round a sweeping right hand turn and has plenty of food and accommodation options. There's a section before Vicarstown where you might as well use the tarmac on the left as that section of tarmac hugs the canal for a good few km which caused me much envious glances at we ploughed on through the grass on the right.
    It's a super spin from Robertstown, enjoy. We had CX bikes.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    Thanks guys

    I'd be sleeping under tarp again, I'd say. We're ok on the grass tbh, figure we may as well take on the rougher element before it's all tarmaced over. We had a tough time from Edenderry to Tullamore the last time, but I can't remember if that was the storm the night before or the surface being mostly bog tbh.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,494 ✭✭✭ De Bhál


    bit down the bottom here I posted about The Barrow Way

    https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=2057826950&page=4


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    Thought I’d return to this thread as I lie awake in a B&B in Carlow Town listening to someone’s snoring in the room under ours.

    Cycled 10k this morning to get first Dart from Greystones at 6:30am. Cycled Tara St to Heuston. Train to Sallins at 8:30am. Left Sallins at 9am and cycled on the road to Robertstown. We stopped to watch an AE86 meet at Mondello. So we didn’t get to Robertstown til 10am. We got to Carlow at roughly 7pm. Exhausted. Gave up on idea of camping further south and scoured the town for accommodation.

    I’m not sure why but this trip has been exhausting and the least pleasant of our trips. We’ve been tired before on the canals, from Edenderry to Tullamore is very tough for example, but this is different. There’s no change in scenery or surface, it’s grass for like 80%. Tough and doable but the boredom of it hit us, I think. We saw a few heron at the beginning but then heard nothing till we were south of Athy. I think the lack of locks and small towns along the route compared to the RC and GC means the route doesn’t get broken up, you can’t really gauge how much progress your making.

    Also, I regret not rereading this thread. as Peterx was right, there’s a long section of tarmac coming into Vicarstown and we longingly watch it from the opposite bank. Vicarstown to Athy we just rode on the road.

    I’m sure today will bring some better scenery, etc. but I wanted to post this as a warning. Don’t do the barrow as your first trip of this type. Go for the RC and GC first. Much more enjoyable and gratifying.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,182 ✭✭✭ a148pro


    Do you mind me asking what type of bikes you are on and how much you're carrying or what level of fitness? I think I may have underestimated how tough the going is


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    a148pro wrote: »
    Do you mind me asking what type of bikes you are on and how much you're carrying or what level of fitness? I think I may have underestimated how tough the going is

    Friend is an MTB and I’m on a fat bike. Both of us have been on bikes for years. Raced different disciplines but definitely in life mode currently so take from that what you will. We’ve both got handlebar bags and seatpost bags carrying change of clothes and sleeping bags and a few bits. So heavy enough but not insane. We’ve met two other riders on salsa touring bikes and they seem to be doing fine. Racer is not an option.

    My suggestion at the point we’re at now is to go to Carlow and start from there. Much more enjoyable. The slog previous to that is not worth it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,428 ✭✭✭ TheBlaaMan


    Thanks. I’ll be using a fat bike. I’ve covered the entirety of both the Grand and Royal, so this is the last bit.


    Fat bike?...........'be grand !

    :)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    TheBlaaMan wrote: »
    Fat bike?...........'be grand !

    :)

    Oh yeah. Not a bother to it. But you’re pushing a heavy ass bike through draining terrain with nothing to see, nothing to stop and take a pic of, just the flat drudgery of the midlands.

    So, the idea would really be train to Carlow, down the St Mullins which was a great trip, stay over at the campsite in St Mullins and maybe back up. This part was very enjoyable.

    Insider tip (maybe): if you’re going by MTB, hang a left at Clais Ghainimh, follow the road out til you see an opening on the right. There’s some single track there which brings you up above the canal and maybe a kilometer of trail that spits you out in the canal again. Nice break and some great views.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,177 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    Couple of great videos by Turlough O'Brien of cycling the Barrow on a MTB spotted on the Save the Barrow Line website. (Pity the second one is speeded up!)

    https://youtu.be/eU38QrVXaNs

    https://youtu.be/01nOWsYJMDE

    It's interesting that planning permission has been granted to develop a greenway on the less interesting canalised sections in Kildare and Laois but refused on the more attractive sections further south. Having walked it all over a good few Sundays, I can see why but would love to cycle it sometime. Looks like an N+1 or hiring a MTB might be the way to go.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    You don’t need an MTB tbh. Like I said above we met a couple doing in on touring bikes and hefty panniers. You could do Carlow down on a hybrid with decent sized tyres.

    The Robertstown to Athy section is under utilized and not particularly cared for so the grass is cut but still a push to get through. People seem to constantly walk the route from Carlow down so there’s lines of hard soil for most of the route with a few grassier sections.

    From a personal point of view I don’t see the point in creating a tarmac’d road down any of the canals like we’ve seen. I understand a better surface allows better access for all, but I’d question the width needed and I’d wonder if it would actually work in drawing more people to it. It really is fine as it is (Carlow southward I mean). But mind the dog ****. It’s everywhere.

    As above, Athy and Carlow south was used by many, walkers and cyclists, canoe and boats. Above that we barely met a soul. The bank between the path and the canal is over grown and obstructs view and access. It’s just dead. Like there’s no life in the canal.

    I guess I’m repeating myself now so I’ll leave it bar one point. Areas of Kildare show the least amount of concern re the canals. The poorest surface on the Royal was in Kildare and the least amount of signage. On this trip we came across an information sign re a building’s historical significance which had misspellings in the English and an Irish translation that was 100% Google translate and absolutely non-sensical. It was embarrassing tbh.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,093 ✭✭✭ Peterx


    Well done Harry.

    Just to give a slightly more positive slant, I have ridden the canal from Ballyfermot to Monasterevin plenty of times and it's a much calmer quieter ride than the tarmac alternatives. I take the quiet vista as a positive in this busy world and the occasional heron as a plus.

    I do see how it would be a hard boring ride loaded up with panniers, I use a light CX race bike and get a big country dinner at the other end :)

    edit - The sections on the actual river Barrow are definitely the most rewarding though, as Harry says if you only do a section, do the southern section.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,450 Harrybelafonte


    Just to be clear, the Royal and Grand are great as you say, PeterX. I apologize for being negative, it’s my way, but I just couldn’t get over that first section. Nor could my friend. Maybe we were spoilt by the previous trips, both in weather and scenery.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 42,365 Mod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder


    Peterx wrote: »
    I take the quiet vista ... and the occasional heroin as a plus.
    i probably read your post too quickly because this is how it read on first glance to me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,182 ✭✭✭ a148pro


    Did this over the last 2 glorious days of sunshine from Dublin City Centre (Grand Canal to Robertstown then down to St Mullins, over to Thomastown to get home). A riot of dragonflies the whole way.

    Some thoughts for people who come after:-

    - if you're used to road cycling don't underestimate the distances - I was suffering about 70k into day 1 despite being probably able to do twice that on road

    - I therefore wouldn't even think of doing this in one day (170k approx) and it wouldn't do justice to the route and the heritage along it

    - the route is ideally set up to be broken into bits with bus and train possibilities off / back on the route at various places (Sallins, Athy, Carlow, Thomastown, amongst others - getthere.ie is a good resource for bringing all available public transport options to one search)

    - you can book bikes onto the train if you reserve a seat, otherwise you have to take your chances. not sure if they'll refuse to let you on if the racks are occupied, I had no problem putting the bike into luggage compartment on bus, but if there were three of you this might not be as easy, bus back took about the same amount of time as the train

    - alternatively there are accommodation options in all of the above and more, the canal / river passes right through each town

    - I only encountered mud for two brief points on the entire route but its been dry the last while

    - about 70 % of this route would be bumpy but doable on a standard road bike, but ideally I'd prefer 30mm plus tyres for the rest, I was on 38s on a gravel bike and it was ideal, it absolutely ate the route if you got a bit of speed up - so CX / gravel / hybrid / MTB would all be suitable for the entirety

    - the only slogging is on the grass. I didn't find this too bad but maybe it had recently been cut

    - even if not intending to do the whole route the spin from Dublin to Robertstown is really enjoyable once you get past Clondalkin

    - while I can see where Harrybelafonte is coming from I still enjoyed from Roberstown down to Carlow

    - Carlow on is probably the nicest bit as you are beside the river as opposed to the canal for large stretches and the towns are very pleasant

    Re times, Dublin to Carlow took me about 9 hours with plenty of stops

    Carlow to Thomastown about 7 hours, again with plenty of stops

    All in all a great spin and as I say, even the bit along the canal makes a pleasant alternative long spin ex Dublin if you've the tyres for it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,063 ✭✭✭ Gerry


    did the grand from ardclough and then the barrow way to monastrevin today, then back up and road home via hill of allen. slow going on some of it. hadnt really researched it that much and see I could have done the barrow to athy. will do that next time

    Check out my activity on Strava: https://strava.app.link/KNcYu4eVg9


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,177 ✭✭✭ Mercian Pro


    Gerry wrote: »
    did the grand from ardclough and then the barrow way to monastrevin today, then back up and road home via hill of allen.


    Nice spin Gerry. I presume the off-road bits were fairly mucky given the recent weather. What type bike and what width tyres did you use?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,170 ✭✭✭ Breezer


    I’m planning on doing this over the August weekend, and then continuing on road to Rosslare via the Eurovelo 1. I have a gravel bike that came with 40mm Continental Terra Trails. They were great fun on the Clonsilla to Confey section of the Royal Canal, but they’re a bit of a slog on the road.

    I’m thinking of replacing them with something a bit narrower and faster rolling. Can anyone recommend a gravel tyre that would be suitable for the Barrow but reasonably fast on the road? Would the standard Panaracer Gravel King in 35s handle the grassy sections, or should I be looking at the SK model, or just stick with the 40mm Terra Trails and suck it up on the road? Or any other suggestions?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,929 ✭✭✭ nilhg


    Breezer wrote: »
    I’m planning on doing this over the August weekend, and then continuing on road to Rosslare via the Eurovelo 1. I have a gravel bike that came with 40mm Continental Terra Trails. They were great fun on the Clonsilla to Confey section of the Royal Canal, but they’re a bit of a slog on the road.

    I’m thinking of replacing them with something a bit narrower and faster rolling. Can anyone recommend a gravel tyre that would be suitable for the Barrow but reasonably fast on the road? Would the standard Panaracer Gravel King in 35s handle the grassy sections, or should I be looking at the SK model, or just stick with the 40mm Terra Trails and suck it up on the road? Or any other suggestions?

    To a large extent it depends on the weather coming up to and over the weekend you do it, I did the Rathangan to Carlow section last Saturday and would have easily done it on 35mm gravelking slicks but I know from previous experience that after a wet spell sections can be very messy and 38mm Gravelking SKs work much better, they're not so bad on the road either.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 991 ✭✭✭ Large bottle small glass


    Breezer wrote: »
    I’m thinking of replacing them with something a bit narrower and faster rolling. Can anyone recommend a gravel tyre that would be suitable for the Barrow but reasonably fast on the road? Would the standard Panaracer Gravel King in 35s handle the grassy sections, or should I be looking at the SK model, or just stick with the 40mm Terra Trails and suck it up on the road? Or any other suggestions?

    I think when it comes to Irish gravel and our frequent rain, a tyre choice is always something of a compromise; even more so when you mix in road riding.

    For dry weather on or off road the Schwalbe g one speed are a brilliant tyre; I've used them in 35mm( i have them fine in the wet on road to). They don't last long though.

    I have 37mm WTD Raddler on atm and they are a pretty good option when a bit wetter off road; they are not a mud tyre or anything but are better when things gets messy and roll ok on tarmac with one caveat.

    I think any of these tyres with light dipples on centre but bigger knobbles on outside can be questionable on tarmac in the wet when cornering.

    I recently had a dirty spill and the tyres were a factor; my own stupidity was a bigger one but its a lesson learnt for sure.

    I have 43mm Gravelkings sk in shed I must try when WTB's wear out


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,093 ✭✭✭ Peterx


    I have Donnelly MXP tyres on. They are partially worn and roll well enough on the road sections but still have enough grip for the grass/mud sections.

    In general used CX tyres seem to work very well.

    Unfortunately there wasn't a CX season last winter to replenish the stock so those worn MXP's are getting better and better on the road sections :)

    As an aside I now join the canal at GrangeCastle, it cuts out the potential for any messers closer to town acting the maggot and it's all tarmac to there anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,961 ✭✭✭ iwillhtfu


    When it comes to the barrow way I've seen the best and worst of it.

    This time of year with a prolonged dry spell you'd probably manage on 25mm tyres but I wouldn't recommend them. I've been using WTB venture 47 tyres this passed winter and they're a great tyre although I run 650b. Rolling resistance isn't terrible but then the gearing on the bike is quite low so it's more of an enjoying the journey than the destination type bike if ya get me.

    I used to have gravel kings and they were grand but probably a bit too much grip on the ones I was running. As I was saying though this time of year you'd get away with most tyres but something around 40mm is best for comfort I found. Most of the track is perfectly fine it just gets a bit messy south of Athy and late winter/early spring it regularly floods.

    50992392017_220024f21a_w.jpg50966268738_87f4c7639d_w.jpg50813943682_8b46001a32_w.jpg51095397480_d22ba28467_w.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,170 ✭✭✭ Breezer


    Thanks all! iwillhtfu, those are stunning photos!

    Sounds like the Gravel King SKs in something slightly narrower than 40 might be a good call then, if the weather holds up. I might give them a go. The 38s are hard to find in stock, but I’ve found some 35s.

    If I end up in the Barrow I’ll let you all know!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,961 ✭✭✭ iwillhtfu


    35s would work well for the majority of the year.

    Enjoy your trip, it's a nice spin.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,170 ✭✭✭ Breezer


    iwillhtfu wrote: »
    35s would work well for the majority of the year.

    Enjoy your trip, it's a nice spin.

    Found some 38s (which apparently are actually 622-40) and ordered them. We’ll see how they work out. Thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 135 ✭✭ David6330


    I did the Barrow Way earlier this month on Schwalbe Super MotoX tyres (62mm wide).

    If the weather holds up, I'd go for the 40mm/44mm tyre with smooth thread pattern like the WTB Byway.


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