McDonagh’s Lane (2.2km, 111m, 5.0%)

Map and elevation profile of McDonagh's Lane climb


Prior to the lockdowns I had only ridden McDonagh’s Lane once, in the course of the gruelling Red Line/Red Lane 600, an experience that left me ill-inclined to revisit it. But its position just inside the boundaries of Dublin county offered plausible deniability, not that the Guards manning the checkpoints at Brittas ever bothered to stop me to check my credentials. It turns out to be a peach of climb — quiet, well-paved, and scenic.

The lane is easily overlooked, running up the side of the Blue Gardenia pub on the N81 around Brittas. Be in the small ring as you make the turn — the gradient quickly reaches double digits, then slackens briefly before rising to 15%. The impeccable surface of the road takes some of the sting out of the steep sections but they’re still demanding. The road is very narrow at this point so pray that you don’t meet a car coming the other way that might force you to stop.

The gradient eases as the road continues upwards in a series of steps. A slanted T-junction announces the final push — beware of vehicles coming from the right as you swing left around the bend — before the long drag to the top of the hill. Houses and neat hedges give way to pasture on the left and the edge of Saggart woods on the right, with the N81 trailing away down below. At the top, enjoy the sweeping vista of the mountains to the east and flat lands to the west, the Slieve Blooms barely breaking the horizon.

Handmade sign, painted on of planks nailed to a post: Aquatic Village, 7 days 10.30 until 6, No Tossers

Thoughts, hopes, exhortations?