Cycling 2020-You couldn’t make it up!
What a year 2020 has been so far for the cycling fraternity of south-west Ireland.
Early January saw us experience one or two crisp mornings, but with that came freezing temperature and black ice, making the sport somewhat hazardous.
Who can forget February? A none stop continuation of strong winds and heavy rain, that seemed to save itself for the weekends. In our case it had us running for the indoor sports hall for some group sessions on the indoor trainers. A nice stop gap, but a long way from the real thing!
March was a bit of a hit and miss month with a little bit of questionable weather and the growing threat of the Covid 19 tidal wave moving every closer to our shores from the east.
Come mid March the government were making their move and group and club cycling ground to a halt. The one saving factor was that despite this it was possible to cycle, all be it solo and without limits.
I took advantage of what was starting to look like a respite before we were hit with more sanctions.
I enjoy the occasional solo cycle. It’s pretty much do as you please, make it up as you go along and you’re not having to answer to anyone regarding hills, rough roads or time limits, you’re the boss and you choose.
Two standout rides saw me take in a nice route towards mid Kerry and the edge of south Kerry. The highlight being the Kerry Woollen Mills road that literally runs parallel to the Ring of Kerry N72 road from Killorglin to Killarney, that is a million miles from the fast and sometimes congested first or final leg of the RoK. It’s quiet, unobtrusive and affords magnificent views of MacGillycuddy Reeks to the right and allows the cyclist to submerge themselves in the splendour of the adjacent countryside.
A few days later I was cycling into north Kerry and another quiet area. Here I headed out towards Causeway via Lerrig before taking a left turn prior to Causeway onto the Line road. As the name suggests it’s fairly straight. This section of road is something I’ve avoided for a number of years because the surface, which at times made Paris-Roubaix seem smooth. I’m glad to report that all those poor surfaces are in the past and the Line road is once again a nice stretch of road to cycle. The area actually reminds me of the Netherlands, quite flat and open with the sea breeze never too far away. A stop in Ballyheigue is always a treat and whether you decide to push on further north via Kerry Head or return to Tralee via Banna and Fenit, it’s all top notch cycling territory with stunning scenery, quiet roads and fantastic sea views.
Bringing things up to date and into April/ May we’ve been faced with first a 2km exercise zone which depending on where you live was relatively doable, though a little confined. I personally used it as an excuse to get out on my aging town bike and do 20km varied routes within the zone.
Now we are given a bit more leeway with 5km and it’s got me back on the road bike with way more challenging routes and longer distances at my disposal.
Looking into the future and what the rest of the year has install is something we can only speculate on? Certainly the last month has brought and unexpected bonus from a crisis. With quiet roads and fine weather, sparking a potential surge in cycling. Indeed it’s been a joy to see so many families out cycling and kids especially enjoying the simple pleasures of the bicycle without the added dangers of congested roads.
Potentially we are looking at an extended zone going from 5 to 20km radius, plus a possibility of being allowed to gather in small groups. That in itself is a way back for cycling groups and can be workable if managed correctly. The future doesn’t look particularly good for staged cycling events. Locally the Ring of Kerry has gone for 2020 with Ride Dingle and Ring of Beara almost hoping for a miracle to run their events for this year.
Prehaps in the future we’ll see the traditional cycling club sportive making a come back. This was very much a staple diet about ten years ago until too many organisations in the need of making a few euro’s saw the potential of a cycling sportive and jumped on the band wagon, severely diluting the product and making the cycling club sportive unattractive, as it became just one of many events.
Will we ever return to how things were prior to 2020? Only time will tell. But maybe this period can give us time to reflect and come back stronger.
If you won’t esteem them then at least learn from their mistakes.