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Wheelers Complete Ring of Kerry

posted 23 Jul 2012, 15:04 by Kevin Monaghan
(by Shay O’Toole)   
To be honest, I don’t know if I volunteered or was invited on this trip but either way I ended up accompanying the Lakeside Wheelers “senior ladies development squad” to Killarney two weeks ago for the 2012 Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle.

Wheeler Joe Dolan
This was no junket or handy leisure spin, as to cycle 112 miles/180KM is a serious undertaking in any man’s language. The girls had put in many hours of training prior to departing for the Kingdom last Friday including one very tough 75 mile spin in wet and windy conditions around north Westmeath, Longford and Cavan which included several hills to prepare for the Cols of Waterville, Sneem and Kenmare.

So, with bikes loaded we headed for the Deep South arriving in Killarney three hours later to what could only be described as monsoon conditions with the rain so heavy, it practically brought the town to a standstill. Muirna, our accommodation officer directed us straight to our base which was a luxurious thatched cottage on the outskirts of town. The self-catering option was chosen, we were told, to keep social distractions at bay. With ALL the bags unloaded it was time to get ready for the long day ahead so while Carmel Buckley, Claire Malone and Muirna took care of registration Cathy and I did the food shopping leaving Carmel Dolan to stand guard over the multi-million cargo of Trek, Orbea, Cube and Specialized bikes. The last member of the squad to arrive was Mary Taffe who included in her luggage, a bottle of Prosecco (that’s Spanish style champagne to you and me) the size of a gas cylinder, so her commitment was questioned immediately but she reassured us that it was for medicinal purposes! We took her word for it as someone else said they had read recently that bubbles were beneficial to endurance athletes.
Our dinner was more traditional fare for “athletes” with everybody enjoying a good plate of carbohydrate stacked pasta after which we ensured the bikes were in pristine condition for the task ahead. The following morning we were joined for breakfast by Arnold Bose who had travelled over from Mallow to spend the day with us on the Ring. We left the cottage at 8am and although it wasn’t exactly Mediterranean, the weather could have been a lot worse. With probably the biggest peloton this country has ever seen for company, we didn’t find the first 30 miles going by and soon pulled in to the official food stop in Cahirciveen. Numbers were reported to be somewhere north of 7,000 so you can imagine the mayhem and queues for teas and coffee. Leaving the tea stop we headed along the coast towards the first big climb of the day, Coomacista is a long drag that winds its way out of Waterville at a constant but gentle gradient but it was no obstacle to the Wheelerettes who all spun nicely over the top to catch a glimpse of Derrynane Bay which lay below and must be one of the nicest views in Ireland. The next few miles were very hilly as we made our way towards Sneem where, en route, I met fellow Wheeler Andy Brady who was fresh from his French expedition to the Raid Pyrennean so congrats Andy on completing that monster. In Sneem we decided to take a proper coffee stop which proved to be the decision of the day because it poured rain for the entire time we were stopped and also gave us a good rest before we took on the next big climb, Moll’s Gap.  En route to Kenmare we picked up another Wheeler, this time it was junior member, Sean Duignan, who deserves great credit for completing this cycle as he is only 15 years old. A quick nature stop in Kenmare provided an opportunity to chat with a fellow cyclist who kindly took some photos for us and then, with fag in hand and a belly like a Sumo wrestler, asked, “What’s the secret to getting over this next climb?”  

With the finish now firmly in our sights, we set off on the ascent of Moll’s Gap which was more difficult than the previous climb but yet again the long training miles were very evident as we made our way through the tiring peloton. It was impressive to see the Wheelers crew weaving in unison up the mountain and not for the first time on today’s spin we heard several calls from other riders commenting on the Lakeside Wheelers chain gang, another indication of how well our club is recognised throughout the country. With everybody safely over the top, we turned for home and sailed all the way down through the lakes and rivers to within a stone’s throw from the finish where we pulled in for a celebratory drink before eventually crossing the line in Killarney. Well done to all who took part and once again you were brilliant ambassadors for your club and Mullingar.

Shay O'Toole, Carmel Buckley, Carmel Dolan, Mary Taffe, Muirna Walsh, Arnold Bose, Sean Duignan, Claire Malone and Cathy O'Toole pictured on Ladies View, Killarney.
Shay O'Toole, Carmel Buckley, Carmel Dolan, Mary Taffe, Muirna Walsh, Arnold Bose, Sean Duignan, Claire Malone and Cathy O'Toole pictured on Ladies View, Killarney.

Footnote: For those of you who observed that I was the only one not in full Lakeside Wheelers kit there is a very valid reason. As I was leaving our house the last thing I did was put on my jersey but in doing so realised it was about four times too big for me so when I checked the label it dawned on me that I had mistakenly packed “Joe Dolan’s” jersey.....the one we dressed Mullingar’s famous son in on the night of the National Criterium Championships!