First ran in 2019 when the organisers (James, Simon and Liam) had looked to explore the excess of back roads, side roads, boreen (grass routes) and “sectors” within their local area (Glen of Aherlow and East Limerick) by knitting together a crazy unconventional route to create the inaugural Grass Routes Gran Fondo. Humble beginnings of 15 riders meeting up on a September’s morning proved the concept and encouraged the guys to establish the one-of-a-kind event.

The cycle, self-proclaimed as self-guided “with benefits”, takes you through a criss-cross 140km stage event where you weave a path from rural boreen to boreen, taking in several mix sectors on route to the finish, amazingly all within a 20km radius. Influenced by the DIY gravel events abroad, but more in common with the “classics”, the crew at Grass Routes CC have taken the no marshal self-guided approach and brought it to the road community; ever wonder where that small road goes? Well now you know! 

Using this method allows the Gran Fondo to freely roam where it wants, with-out the constraints of marshals (there is approximately 92 junctions in total to navigate in the cycle). The cycle primarily keeps to paved rural and boreen (grass routes) roads but frequently detours into 1-2km mixed/gravel/dirt/Limestone “sectors” (25km in total), which push your road bike to the limits, think of a cobbled classic. The “with benefits” part is the incredible lengths the small group of volunteers have went; marking each junction, placing signage at each KOM (8 in total) and Sectors (12 in total) , supplying a refuel stop midway, and ensuring rescue support, both mechanical and medical, is available should you need it to aid your journey.

See you on the road,

Simon, James and Liam