The Ring in Reverse
I suppose one of the disadvantages of living is Kerry, is that you take the things that are on your door-step for granted. One thought I use for motivation, is that people pay good money from around the World to visit here, so let’s make the most of what we have and get out and see it.
Certainly one of the show piece routes has to be the Ring of Kerry. From a cycling perspective, the charity cycle in early July has certainly taken the lead in cycling this route, it’s probably the only way many people would contemplate doing it. From a personal point of view I’ve not done the Ring in its entirity for about four years, so the chance to do it with an easy-going group seemed too good an opportunity to miss. The itinerary for the cycle was quite simple. Plenty of stops for food, liquid and views, an overnight stop in Caherciveen and enjoy yourself. Oh and we’d be doing it in a clockwise direction as oppose to the more traditional anti-clockwise route. As the start from Killarney was not until 10 am I decided to start my ride with a warm-up spin from Tralee at 8:30 which was pretty un-eventful. I reached Killarney cathedral in good time with every one ready to go, so within 5 minutes we were heading along the Muckross Road and into the Killarney National Park. Thankfully the weather was nice with a light wind and pleasant sunshine to make the climb up to Molls Gap bearable. As a group we stayed fairly compact and it wasn’t too long before we were drinking coffee and eating our chosen snacks at the Molls Gap cafe. Back to work and a lovely downhill decent to Kenmare which complemented the break. Back onto the flat now and a good hours work to our next stop for lunch in Sneem. The village was bustling with a family weekend festival, but we found a nice pub which dished out a mean beef and onion soup and 2 thick slices of Irish brown bread.
After Sneem the route gets more hilly, but that’s compensated by a way more scenic and eye catching sea views. Anyway after zipping through Castlecove and O’Carrols Cove we entered Caherdaniel village for our dessert stop. Here we all did our own thing with the choice of a couple of pubs, a small shop and a cup cake cafe. Rested up we went straight into the Coomakista climb which is about 6 km. We tapped away at a nice pace and made easy work of reaching the top. This is where the rain started, but we still had nice views of Waterville and the Beara Peninsula. The 8 km decent into Waterville went quickly. The next pit stop at a sea front bar was welcome as I went for the traditional Irish hot whiskey with lemon and cloves to ward off the cold. Interestingly the conversation was mainly about some of the group heading up to Lough Derg in Donegal for 3 sleepless, shoeless and foodless nights. My cycling companions really love pain! Anyway just 16 km more pain for the day, before we entered a wet and windy Caherciveen and our home for the night.
The accommodation was good value. Just € 18 in the Sive Hostel for a bed and breakfast. Dinner was also good value and very tasty in the Ring of Kerry hotel. We finished the night off in traditional style at a 21st party in one of the local pubs. Here the main party brought their own instruments and played some very good Irish traditional music in an extremely traditional bar.
After a good cycling breakfast of porridge, tea and toast we set off on the steady 10 km climb out of Caherciveen, up to Kells, but not before our only mechanical problem of the trip, when Jimmy’s front wheel decided to go flat overnight! Again we made good progress, but you would expect that, especially from a group of athletes who are suited to hill and mountain climbing. We ignored the pull of the Pat’s craft shop and cafe for the stunning vistas of the Dingle Peninsula and the promise of coffee and cake in Glenbeigh. This part is one of the nicest on the ring with an excellent road surface that sweeps high along the atlantic ocean. There are mountains to your right and sea views to the left. This is complemented by standout views of Rossbeigh and Inch beaches jutting out into Castlemaine harbour. We arrived in Glenbeigh just in time as a heavy rain shower and strong winds followed us in. The village was bustling with visitors and holiday makers making the most of the Sunday market and local shop. Fed and watered we headed to Killorglin on a surprisingly busy road. From here on the Ring takes on a less spectacular vista, but if you where to branch off to the left, there is a nice road through the seaside village of Cromane. Then off to the right you have a fantastic circular road around Loch Caragh. Our remit was the true Ring of Kerry though to Killorglin. Unsurprisingly the town was quiet as we pulled into the excellent Jack’s bakery just up from the bridge. This is a treat worth stopping for with some of the best sweet and savoury pastries on offer in Kerry.
The final leg to Killarney was uneventful enough, except for the tail back of cars caught behind us near Beaufort! Sorry for that, but it was a lazy Sunday afternoon on the Ring of Kerry.
Special thanks to the dozen who made it such a great and enjoyable weekend. John, Marie, Willie, Carmel, Eileen, Sheila, Majella, Jimmy, Mairéid, Myra, Maeve and myself. Special thanks to our bag runner and woman on the inside at Cahersiveen, Margaret. Finally to Tony who was entertaining family back in Fenit and missed out, but made some lovely souvenir key rings for everyone (see featured image).