The 206 km club ride through Kerry and Cork
Trying to convince anyone to ride 200 km doesn’t come easy, but once you have a team assembled and then weather starts acting up, it can quite rightly scupper the best laid plans.
After a month perfect cycling conditions it was typical that the wind should start blowing hard on our big day, with threatening black clouds rolling in from the south to boot. Luckily mother nature was smiling on us this very day as seven hardly souls took to the by-ways and highways of Kerry and Cork soon after 7:30 am and cycled south into the prevailing southerly winds towards Killarney. Thankfully we made it to Kerry’s second town before things had kicked-off too badly and cycled east through the sheltered but hilly area’s of Knocknahoe in east Kerry. Our first port of call was in Rathmore at the 56 km stage. Here we were dealt a broken coffee machines and blocked toilets. Something to do with water shortages in the shop? Any how, the set back didn’t inconvenience the majority of us as we found our own ways around the problem. One of the group, Muggsy, was visibly struggling and looked set for an early raid into Rathmore train stations ticket office and an early exit.
On leaving Rathmore we crossed the border into Cork. The landscape flattened, one group became two and the wind and rain started. In fairness we still managed a decent enough pace, as the rain was patchy and the wind blew to our side. We pushed through the Eurovision 93′ venue Millstreet and on towards Kanturk. I have to admit the larger group missed its right turn and so missed out on the pleasures of Rathcool and Banteer, but normal service was resumed in the busy town of Kanturk as we all joined forces once more. One final push before lunch saw us cycle the 9 km to Newmarket. Here an excellent lunch awaited us at the Relish cafe. (96 km down)
At this stage Muggsy was ready to pull the plug, but it’s amazing what good food and a rest can do for anyone and so we cycled up to our highest point of the day (334 m) with a full squad still in tact. From a climbing perspective the gradient wasn’t too difficult, but the road felt like a river of molasses and the going was tough. The descent into Rockchapel was welcome were we re-grouped before making short work of the 16 km stretch back into Kerry and over to Feales Bridge in 30 minutes.
From here we said our farewells to TC who needed to be back in Tralee via Knocknagoshel and welcomed a rejuvenated Muggsy.
From here on the cycle was on familiar ground and with the wind still doing us a big favour. We made it to Listowel and its military weekend well before four bells. (150 km down)
After another feed in Supervalu we moved into the final quarter of the ride. A wind assisted spin out to Lisselton was soon slowed right down as we faced the elements on the leg into Ballyduff. The North Road to Meenogahane Cross was nowhere near as bad as I feared. On turning the corner towards Causeway we had gravity on our side but no longer the elements. Team work was the order of the day as we pushed against the wind to Lerrig. Here we had a short break at the store and soothed our aching bodies as best we could. The final leg had us cycling in to Ardfert before a flirtation with the coast at Barrow. The hill up to Churchill followed, before the rolling roads in to The Spa. The final stretch back into Tralee went via the Bracker O’Regan Road. (206 km)
I have to say it was a great if uneventful ride. Uneventful in so much as no mechanical faults, no injuries and everyone making it back safely and in tact. From a deeper perspective you certainly get to learn a bit about yourself on such a ride and hold a deeper respect for the individuals who took part in such a memorial day.
Finally a big kudos to the Chain Gang guys who took on a 200 km spin on Wednesday into south Kerry. Seems like this type of cycling is catching.