On the ferry ride over the river Shannon, Simon looked down at his rear tire. It was deflated, again. Despite this realization, we were excited to finally reach County Kerry. We had heard a lot of good things about the area.
After walking our bikes off the ferry, Simon changed his tire, and we cycled towards the ominous rainclouds. It started to sprinkle rain, and I think the suggestion to call it an early day was thrown out but Simon and I are both very stubborn. When rain started falling in earnest, we pulled into a farmer’s driveway to seek shelter under some trees. We thought the rain might pass, but it proceeded to get heavier and heavier until we had to discuss our camping options. We finally decided to knock on the door of the house we were standing in front of.
*knock* *knock* *knock* …………no answer. *knock* *knock* *knock*
“I think I hear someone inside”, I insisted.
Simon shook his head, “Maybe they don’t want to answer?”
A minute or so later and a young Irish chap, Tommy, opened the door and then fetched his dad.
“Hello, we were on our way to Dingle but the weather just took a turn,” I explained. “Is there a field nearby we could pitch our tent?”
Tommy’s dad explained that while there were many fields around, we wouldn’t want to have to worry about cattle and bulls. He kindly offered us his lawn. As soon as we took our tent out to pitch, it was soaked. Thankfully, Tommy ran out and offered us their shed instead. Then, after we changed out of our wet layers, Tommy brought us a platter of toast, biscuits, and tea. We were lulled to sleep that night by the pitter-patter of rain on the roof as we snuggled in our warm sleeping bags.
The next day we cycled into Tralee and spent 2 hours in The Daily Grind coffee shop (one hour of which I was skyping my sister). We only bought a coffee each, so we were feeling slightly guilty as we left. On our way out the door, the barista that took our order ran after us to gift us a bag of baked goods for the road. The kindness of strangers continues to amaze me!
8 miles outside of Annascaul we met a French cyclist, Antoine, the first touring cyclist on our trip that was traveling in the same direction as us. The three of us made quick work of the climb before town, which gave stunning view of the Dingle peninsula. Antoine joined us for dinner at the South Pole Inn (opened by the famous Antarctic explorer Tom Creen). The seafood chowder was amazing and I tried black pudding for the first time (and liked it). Antoine had already booked a hostel in Dingle, so he headed off. We bid him farewell, ate some sticky toffee pudding (YUM) and asked some locals for a camp-worthy field nearby.
The next morning we booked into the Hideout hostel in Dingle. Two nights booked in Dingle only meant our second and third rest day of the trip. On our second day in Dingle, we cycled (unloaded – yay!) around the peninsula to be rewarded with some of the most stunning scenery of the trip. We would highly recommend this section!
We finished up County Kerry with three days of cycling the famous Ring of Kerry. The first day was rainy. We actually haven’t had much rain on the trip, so we were due a drizzly day. We both agreed that cyclists on the same route could have completely different impressions of an area based on the weather. At this point of the Ring, we were both preferring the less-crowded, sunny Dingle peninsula. We did find an amazing shelter from the rain that night in a retired tunnel on the side of a cliff. We shared it with a mouse, or rather he shared it with us.
The next day we had much better weather and plans to get a good distance done. We opted to veer off the Ring of Kerry and include the coastal Ring of Skellig in our route. This meant taking a ferry to Valencia Island (beautiful.), and crossing the bridge back over to Port Magee, over a steep climb, and around to connect with the main road again. Simon’s tire had other plans that day. On the Valencia island, he got ANOTHER flat tire. All of our spares had holes in them at this point, so he spent the next couple hours patching tubes, and watching his tire deflate again and again. We can officially call this Simon’s lowest point of the trip. He got so frustrated, he even asked me to cycle to the next town in case they had a bike shop with tubes — they didn’t. A friendly Kerryman finally came over to help and chat. Having someone to look over his shoulder must have done the trick, because he was finally able to successfully repair a tube. He also lined his rim with tape, which seemed to be the cause of all the flats.
Off we went again! We only made it to the other side of Port Magee that day, which was a blessing in disguise. We had a beautiful campsite on the beach, which a stunning view of the Skellig islands (one of which they were recently filming the new Star Wars movie on). On our final day in Kerry we made up the mileage we lost the day before. The Southern portion of the Ring is more rugged with beautiful coast views. Overall, we decided County Kerry was easily one of the most scenic areas of our trip. Next stops: Cork, Waterford, and then Dublin!