There were a few early morning well-wishers on the side of the road to cheer us on as we departed Killarney, heading for Kilorglan. The roads were closed for much of the spin which made life a lot easier, with just a bit of local traffic to contend with. As we approached Kilorglan we were greeted by locals who had come out to support the cyclists – and this proved to be the case for every single town we passed through. Along much of the route too, people were at their front gates wishing us well. So we clipped along this opening stretch, passing cyclists of all shapes and sizes. We cycled on through Glenbeigh, heading for our first food stop of the day in Cahirciveen. There were a few lumps along the way but nothing too testing.
At Cahirciveen we were directed towards the food station at the local school. With all 18 bikes neatly stacked against each other, we trudged our way into the school buildings where we were met with enthusiastic locals tempting us with sandwiches, cakes and biscuits, along with tea and coffee. We all reassembled at the bikes and ate and drank in the gorgeous morning sunshine. A few quick text messages were dispatched and there was even some time for the C-man to get a bit of a massage!
Sneem was a quick stop, just time for Doug to be patched up by the John’s Ambulance crew and fill the water bottles. The road from Sneem to Waterville was a bit lumpy and someone decided it was time to drop the hammer. The pace quickened and the group blew apart – remember that “we’ll all finish together”?! When calls to pull back weren’t headed, up the front went the C-man to sort it out. Only the pace quickened again and that was that! There were five of us in one group, plus two groups of two, as the other 9 sped on up the road. We rolled along at nice pace saving something in the tank for what lay ahead at Kenmare – Molls Gap.
At the bottom of Molls Gap we met up with the main LCRC bunch again. Molls Gap is not a particularly difficult climb (similar to Coomakista) –the issue is that it comes after 140k of cycling. The C-man was adamant that we’d do the 10km climb as a group. Then JP threw down a gauntlet – €2 a head; first to the top takes all. Cheerio boys!! Off the rest of us went trying to pull as a group to the top. This didn’t last long so we agreed regroup at the top of the climb. Molls is a little bit deceiving – you think you’re at the top and you round a corner and before you is a line of cyclists for another few kms. I learnt this last year! At one point I overheard a chap telling his friend he was going to stop. I told him that the corner ahead was actually the top, so he trundled on. I don’t know if he thanked or cursed me for that! At the top all 16 of us regrouped again. Time for a photo shoot. The C-man said (again!) that we’d finish as a group. But then the descent began and the group was ripped apart yet again. On the way down we passed some poor unfortunate who had hit the crash barriers and the ambulance crew were giving him the attention he needed.
So this was the final stretch - Ladies view, Torc waterfall and on to the Muckross road and in to Killarney. As we entered Killarney and came off the roundabout at the Plaza hotel, we were greeted by hundreds of cheering well-wishers – a fantastic finish to a great days cycling. 173 Kms complete, just shy of the advertised 180. Where did the other 7 go? A little over 6 hours of cycling with an average of just under 29km/hr. We were ushered into the car park where more food and drinks awaited, along with the Certificate of Honour. A super event and a wonderful day had by all. I hope to do it all again next year.