Thanks for your patience with Parts 1 and 2.
At last, I’m done philosophizing and ready to jump into the actual cycling aspect of the, um, cycling tour.
Here I am with fellow cyclist Julia and our wonderful Ciclismo Classico guide Enrico.
The first few rides in Ireland proved pretty challenging, what with some long uphill grades that pitched steeper and steeper as I climbed. Yep, I ended up walking a good bit. I may have felt a tad demoralized at times.
The scenery was worth the effort, though. And every day brought new adventure and offbeat rest stops. From museums to a seaweed education center to castles to pubs, we never knew quite what to expect. Even the warmup ride on the first day included a stop at Charlesfort, a rugged bastion on the coast near Kinsale. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of a bereaved military bride.
But the very, very best day of all was the ride from the village of Ballylicky, over the pass of Borlin and into the city of Killarney. It presented these interesting features:
- Total distance 40 miles, the longest distance I rode all week;
- The longest climb of the tour… possibly my longest climb ever;
- That one convenience store where we stopped? No working restrooms;
- A badly understaffed lunch restaurant. Getting our food took three eternities;
- The worst weather / hardest rain of the tour as we approached Killarney, leading to…
- My sunglasses and GPS screen got so wet I couldn’t follow the nav, and ended up losing my way to the hotel.
“Wow,” I can hear you say. “Sounds like a fabulous day… in Opposite Land.”
Yeah, but we also enjoyed:
- Peaceful roads winding among sheep and cow pastures
- The uphill grades were gentle and rolling with breathtaking views around every bend
- At the top of the pass, while at the one place wide enough to park the van for a snack stop, we were treated to the unprecedented sight of a “big rig” truck trying to thread its way along the winding, one-lane road.
(It wasn’t going well. My guess is, the driver either blindly picked “shortest route” on his GPS, or he got directions from Dr. Seuss.)
- Once we reached the top of the pass, the corresponding downhill was nearly perfect
- Both uphill and down, plenty of time to stop for pictures
- When we did get our lunch, it was delicious
- Not one car ran over me, even in the rain (it’s the little things…)
- I had a rain jacket so I wasn’t gonna melt, anyway
- Once we got to Killarney, a fellow guest realized we’d missed a turn and helped me find the hotel
- Never had a disheveled cyclist dripped so much water on such an elegant lobby floor
- On a related note, I’ve never been so glad to step into a building in my life.
The road to Killarney gave us a day full of challenges to overcome, beauty to admire, and surprises that kept me guessing. As near as I can figure, that kind of day is always going to be a good day.
What about you? Do you find a challenging day more fun than an easy one? Are you okay with curveballs, or would you rather have everything planned in advance?
I love your comments! To join the conversation, please use the “Your Turn” box (or the “Leave a comment” link) below my bio, where I’ll be sure to see it and reply.
Thanks for reading!