Report from The Kingdom
The annual ‘Ring of Kerry’ charity cycle took place last Saturday 6th July. After last years successful outing the crazy gang once again headed south for a weekend of cycling and other night time activities. I headed over to collect Ollie and Paul with the trusty bike rack ready for the trip south. Paul wasn’t particularly keen on the bike rack idea so he sat in the back along with his pride and joy. We met up with the 2 remaining members of the crew Dermot and Collie in Birr and deposited some of the gear in Dermots wagon.
The trip down was pleasant enough with the bright July weather providing a nice backdrop against the best of the Munster counntryside. A quick pit stop in Matt the Threshers refueled the reserves for the last portion of the drive south. Killarney was looking pretty with the backdrop of a setting sun and the lakes. Dermot had organised the accommodation for the weekend. He had told the gang that the house was only a short distance outside Kilarney. Some 4km he had said. Needless to say this proved slightly incorrect. The best way to describe the location of the house was ‘rural’. However the views of the surrounding mountains were pretty spectacular. After quickly unloading the bikes and gear it was time to head back into Killarney for the 1st Night Stage of the Ring of Kerry.
The town was buzzing with thousands of people queuing up to register for the Ring of Kerry. We had a quick look around some of the trade stands which had some pretty nice machinery on display. With the sun setting it was time to hit the pubs for a what was supposed to be a couple of pints. The couple of pints soon became a full blown session which included a few funny moments. One in particular involved a well known Greenday song and an over eager TCTC member. The person who shall remain nameless put on a stunning display with his cameo role live on stage. Needless to say the bouncers weren’t as impressed as I was and they moved in swiftly. A quick intervention from Dermot prevented Collie from being ushered out into the night air.
The rest of the night consisted of plenty more beers with some epic moves on the dance floor threw in for good measure. All in all it was a pretty good night. Possibly too good as it was after 2 before we headed back for the accommodation.
Saturday morning came around a bit quick for everyone’s liking. There were a couple of sore heads after the previous evenings endeavors and with the weather looking good it was time to set off. The plan the night before was to head off at 8am but this
quickly turned into 9am by the time everyone was ready. So off we set on the Ring of Kerry. The first section towards the food stop at Caherciveen was into a slight headwind. Our little group was working through and off and we were making light work of the first 60km or so. The crowds had mainly left before us so it was nice and quite until we started to approach the first stop in Caherciveen. We stopped off for a quick coffee and bite to eat before tackling the next section.
Reports the night before suggested that upwards of 8,500 cyclists were signed up for the event. We began to encounter hundreds of cyclists as we headed for the 1st major climb of the day Coomakista. The Ring really is a huge event and the amount of people on the roads was staggering. We passed cyclists of all shapes and sizes as we headed through Waterville and up the first climb. The drag up wasn’t too bad and we pedaled up at a steady rate. The descent was swift enough with cyclists of varying ability taking the corners at different speeds and lines. It was a little tricky passing out people on corners with the roads still open for traffic but we had no real brown trousers moments. Dermot and Ollie got a bit frisky coming down and headed on ahead with me and Collie staying together. Paul got caught behind a van and we didn’t see him again until we stopped in Sneem for another food stop.
The crowds in Sneem were massive and everyone was in great form with plenty of chat and banter. We met a couple of tandem guys who were piloting a rather precarious machine which looked a little unsteady to say the least. As we headed out from Sneem the road was completely full with cyclists. The sights of hundreds of people cycling towards Kenmare was breathtaking at times and it was a pity some of the motorists were being a pain as they tried to overtake. The wind had now sung onto our backs and we were moving swiftly on towards Kenmare. Dermot was beginning to suffer a bit as we continued through Kenmara and onto the final climb of the day Molls Gap.
We took the climb at a steady rate as the energy reserves were starting to wane. We still passed out hundreds of other cyclists who were snaking up the climb. At the top we stopped for a brief moment. There was a great party atmosphere at the top with a DJ belting out the tunes and everyone chilling in the sunshine. After our break it was time to descend back to Killarney. There was a bad crash on the way down and some poor soul was being carted away in the ambulance. Hopefully the cyclists was alright. This sight took the sting out of our descending. The closed roads on this section is a huge advantage with no fear of any car appearing around the corner. The last few mile into Killarney were relaxed as we followed the bollards all the way into town. The finish straight was lined with people and the banner at the end was a nice touch.
After the cycle we relaxed for a bit got some food and enjoyed a couple of drinks in the sunshine. The 2013 version of the Ring of Kerry was certainly my best experience yet and the crew will be back to do it all again next year.
The night time activities were a little more subdued compared to the Friday version as the bodies were tire from the cycle. The crowds around town were massive with lots of people on the streets. A late night Chinese topped up the calorie intake and that was it.
Before leaving Killarney on Sunday morning we took a trip up to the Gap of Dunloe as it was a beautiful morning. The beauty of the area was somewhat spoiled when 3 grown men stripped off and decided to paddle around one of the lakes, This activity drew a lot of attention from the tourists and they were even joined by a Polish couple. On the way back down we had the comedy moment of the week when Collie somehow managed to stick his bike in a ditch while passing inside a car. The fact I had safely negotiated the gap before him makes it even better. There were a few expletives issued and its lucky the PC brigade weren’t nearby. With the we headed back to the cars and set of home. See you in 2014 Killarney.