This coming Saturday 7 August we’re embarking on our fifth Ring of Kerry as a club.
As most people reading this article are well aware, this is an iconic cycle route that we’re blessed to have on our doorstep. As a consequence Kerry cyclists might be a little blasé about the route, a bit of “been there, done that got the t-shirt” attitude, but make no mistake! no matter how many times you glide, grind, sweat, suffer and laugh your way around this stunning course. It is memorable each and every time you do it.
For the geeks, the Ring of Kerry is in and around 170 km in distance with 1,741 metres of the dreaded climbing involved. An average cyclist could expect to complete the route in 7 to 9.5 hours. We shall be cycling a tad against the grain once again, as we start in Killorglin as opposed the more traditional Killarney and we cycle clockwise as opposed to anti-clock wise. The reasons being: Killorglin suits us as a quieter start point, we get the notoriously busy Killorglin to Killarney section done early and finally a lot of motorists (especially buses) tend to go anti-clockwise, so fingers crossed it won’t be as busy.
The main climbs are at Molls Gap and Coomakista. But expect a bit of turbulence either side of Sneem. The exit out of Cahersiveen is never easy when cycling clockwise. Personally I like to get the Waterville to Cahersiveen section out the way asap!
The Good Reasons
The positives more than out-weigh the negatives on the RoK. Killarney National Park is a joy to cycle through as is either side of Molls Gap. Sneem is an idyllic place to stop regardless of feeling tired or fresh. From beyond Castlecove to Waterville the scenery and the views are just stunning. Finally the descent beyond Cahersiveen and on towards Glenbeigh offers stunning views of Kells Bay and across to the Dingle Peninsula to the Blasket., This is a much needed tonic as the heavy legs and tired bodies invariably kick in.
On the day we’ve great support from 2 vans, as John Murray and his team do a fine job of looking after everyone with water, chocolate, fruit, first aid, photo’s, encouragement….need I go on!! We have 2 official stops at Kenmare (Brook Lane Hotel) and Cahersiveen (Ring of Kerry Hotel). This see’s us right for coffee, scones and something a bit more substantial. This year we shall celebrate our achievements in Blennervile at Skelpers pub, with a BBQ and a few cold drinks.
To date we have just under 50 persons committed to the cycle. I’d just like to mention that we have a few members making their debut. Best of luck to them.
Sadly we also have a few members who due to injury and circumstance are unable to make an annual cycle that they would dearly love to be doing. You guys will be my personal crutch on Saturday. When things get tough, I know full well that there are many of you who would gladly swap places at the blink of an eye.
Here’s to a great day on Saturday and to even better days to come!
“I did my first RoK in 2002 on a Giant Touring bike that I still have. My training was a few jaunts out to Fenit and a “big” spin to Ballyduff-Listowel and home. Seamus Moynihan dropped the chequered flag and I was off on a chocolate/sandwich eating binge. I never missed one stop! About 10 hours 7 mars bars, 8 twixes, 9 sandwiches and 8 cans of coke later I crossed the line. Elated but pretty bloated! Since then I have probably reached double figures in cycles around the RoK but would still see myself as a novice with this route in local cycling circles.” Dave Elton
“I can well remember my first-time taking part in the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. I had arranged with a school friend that we would do the cycle. We both weren’t sure if we were actually serious about taking it on. Having registered and done a reasonable amount of training, we were really up for the challenge. The morning of the cycle there is a great sense of being part of something important. The buzz and the sense of anticipation is palpable, It’s a colourful spectacle. It was great to be able to support some of the wonderful charities and the equally wonderful people behind them. The cycle itself was great, talking our way around the route was a great distraction. We were lucky it was a sunny day. The great sense of camaraderie with other riders and the well wishes from the spectators at the various towns and villages carries you along. I think we both took the idea of ‘refueling’ too seriously, as we had something to eat and drink at practically every stop. I can well remember particularly the fruitcake being a major hit. We may be some of the few people to put on weight during a Ring of Kerry cycle!” Declan Murphy
My first time doing the ring of Kerry was back in 2016. I had joined the mentoring group that same year. It was an enormous achievement for me as I’d never really considered myself to be a cyclist at all. I probably should have appreciated the beautiful scenery but I must admit I focused more on getting it done in the best way I could while having a bit of craic along the way. I suppose after that I felt I was truly part of the cg club having completed the longest distance I’d ever done and that’s still true today. Note to self -must do an extra km on Saturday ?Avril Hewitt
It is arguable whether the Chain Gang would have come into being but for the Ring of Kerry! My memory tells me that the Foot and Mouth outbreak began in March 2001, and drove a bunch of mountaineers off the highlands of Kerry. I suggested taking to the bikes to relieve the boredom of the prohibition. It was taken up with a marked lack of enthusiasm but over the following weeks the motley crew learned about drafting and other esoteric skills. Of course this inevitably led to the “what are we doing all this for?” question. Pushed for an answer I glibly suggested “shure we’ll do the Ring” (having done it a few times already myself). The howls of incredulity at the outrageous proposal soon solidified into a goal for all this cycling nonsense – although it took quite a bit of persuasion to rid Brenda of her determination to “drive the van”, rather than attempt this “madness”.The first attempt for the many was a great success with the endorphin buzz evolving into a resolution to do it again, evolving to appetites for the Ring of Beara and the An Post sportive series. The raggle-tag crew evolved into a larger group of competent efficient cyclists with a love of being vagabonds of the road. The rest, as they say, is history! Tomas Crowley