Mahon Falls is located near the eastern edge of the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford. The road to the summit (from the Carrick road side) is 4.8 kilometres rising sharply from 99 to 417 metres in that short but tortuous distance. The overall steepness is measured at 7%, but given that several sections ramp up to 15 – 17%, the climb is considered to be very tough.
Straight from the start at the shop, it climbs upwards and continues to climb. Before the first kilometre is done, a wicked ramp must be negotiated, and it’s here that a cyclist’s true form is tested. Fresh legs can be helpful, yet it may be true to say that one’s head needs to be right. Frantic messages from the head tell the legs to ease up. It’s still very early, and the wooded section can be a nightmare. Best advice would be to remain very much within your comfort level. Comfort may be the wrong word! I’ll rephrase that: do not push too hard.
There is a welcome flatter section at the 2k mark. Alas, it is all too short, and once you turn right at the junction more hurt awaits. This time the hurt is harder, and cyclists should wait in hope for the very short downhill section before the final assault. I mention final, but in fact the final assault goes on quite a distance, and is unrelenting. Here, you are out on the open heather landscape, with only some sheep and wind for company.
At this point, legs are hurting and focus must me maintained. Sensible gear selection is essential in order to maintain any reasonable rhythm, and as the two S-bends approach one after the other, facial contortions are perfectly acceptable. Is there a reason why the road meanders around in such a fashion? Yes indeed, because were it to go as the crow flies, the horrible gradient would be even steeper!
The car-park marks the 4k spot, and there’s just 800 metres distance to the top. However, do not be fooled. There is still 50 metres of elevation to climb. Most cyclists are not fooled, and the reason is that the road takes a sharp left turn and the route can be seen rising ahead. It strikes panic in some. Once upon it, just hope that there will not be a car coming against you!
The wind will now be a big factor, as the end is in sight. A gentle breeze at the bottom usually translates to a very strong wind on top. The hard work is done, and the short flat bit to the cattle grid can be enjoyed. Take an opportunity to look around at the rugged beauty of the place. Picture it in your mind’s eye for good recall later. It’s true to say that however much your legs are hurting, they will quickly recover, but the picture will remain with you, along with the sense of achievement.
Take a few minutes to rest on the leeward side of the stone wall, eat, drink and give yourself a big pat on the back. You have made it to the top!
Have you climbed it? How would you rate it? A comment that springs to my mind is that it is mid-way between OMG and WTF !