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FEATURE I THE RING OF KERRY CYCLE


last year reached a record €1.2 million and many more wanted to sign up this year, they felt they had no option but to halt entries on safety grounds. That’s how beautiful this part of the world is.


This is my favourite century ride in all of Ireland bar none. It’s as much a physical test as a mental one – and in some ways, it’s a spiritual journey too. You learn a lot about yourself. Hell, you’ve enough time to think over the 112 miles or road. It’s damn hard, I can tell you, and if you break six hours you’re a fit person because the roads, the exposed nature of the route, and the climbs are just three of the challengers you’ll face. But that’s what we love as cyclists, isn’t it?


I was there again for the ride just before Christmas, not by chance this time, it’s a festive habit of mine. Probably because I


know I’ll eat 10,000 calories Christmas Day if I can.


I remember last year’s official Ring of Kerry Cycle well. I arrived into the town at a time of day I rarely get to witness, and it was clear I was late. Very late. It was traffic like you’d see at a Munster Final on Lewis Road. Well-known presenter Hector


Ó hEochagáin was doing his thing and when he announced “people have been leaving the last hour and a half” I stared incredulously at my Garmin Edge 510 speedometer which told me the time was 6.40am.


The car parks were clogged and when I found a spot I witness a man displacing his bike from his car with the precision of a surgeon. Slowly, so as not to scrape the paint (on the bike, not the car). Maybe he is a surgeon, because he’s wearing surgical


gloves! Incredible. He then pulls a baby- wipe from the boot and gives his machine a wipe and lubricates the chain. I estimate his machine cost him €6,000, at least. His car, by the way, a 04 Polo, is probably worth around €1,500.


He has his legs shaved and his Lycra all matches. This man is definitely all about the look. I’d witness thousands more like him. “What does that weigh,” I enquire. “6.8kilos, lightest frame on the market . . . come over, have a feel. UCI legal limit” and he grins. Phenomenal. He has a lighter and better bike than many who started the Tour de France the same day — but his bulging waistline tells me he’s in for a tough morning, afternoon and evening. Anyway, enough about him. This is just me and my earphones for the next six hours. The phone is left in the car, by the


January 2015 I Cycling World


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