Taking on the Ring of Kerry

A Breaffy Man in Castlebar
Taking on the Ring of Kerry

Edwin McGreal

It was the most common pin used to burst our bubble. After cycling the Ring of Kerry over the course of two days last week, any praise for the achievement was quickly overtaken by the retort: ‘sure didn’t Enda Kenny do it in eight hours’.
Yes, he did. And it makes the agony we were in last Tuesday night in Cahirciveen after cycling 60 miles that day hard to explain on one level, easy to explain on another.
The Ring is 112 miles, although we added another bit to it by taking in Valentia Island. This summer’s charity cycle saw hundreds, including the Taoiseach, cycle it in a day.
For our knockers, it was a handy point of comparison - if a 60-year-old politician can do it in a few hours, how are ye expecting credit for taking two days to do it? Maybe because he’s a fit sixty-year-old with plenty of saddle experience.
And, by the same token, maybe our lack of fitness, combined with not being on a bike since before we turned old enough to get the provisional driving license, had a lot to do with it.
Ever seeking praise even when it’s not due to me, I tried to spin it into an achievement by moving the goalposts. Sure wasn’t I doing awful well to be on the bike on Monday at all after a heavy night in Castlebar on the Sunday. And then I needed the cure on Monday in Kenmare which hardly helped for the spin to Cahirciveen on Tuesday.
But, because of our low fitness level, finishing the Ring was an achievement.
When we got to our B&B in Cahirciveen on that Tuesday, we were hardly able to move. Both my knees were on the verge of seizing up and the less said about the saddle-sores, the better.
We were going fine until we got to Waterville on Tuesday. There we stopped for two hours to refuel and sitting down didn’t help. One of our crew practically fell off his bike with cramp a mile out the road and when my bag got caught on my bike wheel, Valentia Island nearly became my permanent residence.
Every part of me was crying halt except the part of my brain where pride and stubbornness live.
The other two were in front of me and I couldn’t not finish. The three of us made it to Cahirciveen. And the following morning from there to Killarney, via Killorglin where they were parading a goat as King of the Puck and named him Enda after the Taoiseach.
The real Enda Kenny has our respect after his cycle. I doubt we have his.