Cycling in Cork and Kerry – along time ago.

I started to follow Adam’s blog The Wine Cycle because, well it is a cycle touring blog and I am a sucker for reading about other people’s cycle touring adventures, and he also has an interesting concept;

His goal is to bring lofty stuff like Old World wine to a level that he and the rest of humanity can understand. What makes this fermented grape juice special, anyway?

The trip will take Adam from Santander, Spain to the Tbilisi, Georgia in a bumbling path resembling a straight line to a drunk person, from the Iberian Peninsula to France, then to Italy, Greece and the Balkans, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic before a final push down the Danube River. Hitting as many wine regions as humanly possible on the way won’t be easy, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun.

He is in Ireland at the moment for reasons that he explains.I think the only wine he has encountered so far is Buckfast. I think it made an impression on him, but not necessarily a positive one. He is currently in Cork. Yesterday’s post saw him arrive there with the wind at his back.

Wind at the back never felt so good! Smooth sailing was had the rest of the journey to Cork. That rain and wind I mentioned in my last post ended up pushing me with tremendous speed as I moved due east.

Reading his post made me think of a couple of things;
Firstly, sooner him than me cycling in Ireland in mid-winter. I hate horizontal rain especially if it is in my face. In fact cycling for a whole day into the wind can get to me.
Secondly, it brought back memories of a tour I did (I said in my comment a few) about thirty years ago.

It was back in my Merchant Navy days. I had about three months leave. As I used to sometimes do I headed off without too much idea of where I would end up. I had probably done about ten miles when I decided to go to Ireland, because I had never been there and I liked Guinness. I headed for the railway station, and put the bike, and myself on a train to Holyhead, to catch the ferry to Ireland.

I spent one lovely day in the Wicklow mountains. Then a couple of quite boring days slogging my way across the centre of the island (into the wind) before arriving at Killarney Youth Hostel.
The original idea had been to cycle the Ring of Kerry and then go where ever the front wheel took me. That idea lasted about ten minutes. Having been forced of the road by tourist buses about ten times in as many miles I looked at my map and saw what looked like a back road to Kenmare.
Making one of the best decisions of my life I set off up this single track road. The tarmac ran out within a few hundred metres and about a kilometre after that the hard surface finished as well. Actually the well defined green lane was easier to ride. It was fairly steep so I did stop every now and again, to admire the view of course. At one of those stops I left a rather nice meerschaum pipe behind. I don’t smoke any more so if you find it you are welcome to it. Over the top I had a brilliant slightly scary down hill run into Kenmare, where I stopped for lunch.
Over lunch, and looking at my map I discovered that there is more than one “Ring” in those parts. There is also the Ring of Beara, so making the second brilliant decision of the day I abandoned the Ring of Kerry and decided to cycle the Beara peninsula.

There were a couple of serious climbs but nothing my twenty-eight year old self couldn’t handle and I had a magical few days there. Swimming off golden sand beaches and drinking Murphy’s in the local pubs.
The rest of the tour was almost as good.


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