I awoke at around 5 am today, and had the lyrics of Pennies from Heaven going through my head. Apparently it had been raining quite hard earlier in the night, so maybe my subconscious came up with that song. I drifted back off to sleep some time after 6 am, and was woken by my alarm at 7.30.
The day seemed bright through the curtains, but upon drawing them I saw, or rather didn’t see, the true state of affairs. The mist was well and truly down.
After breakfast, Kevin and I set off, getting to Mizen Head at 9 am. I am assured that the view is spectacular, but today we could see nothing, a state of affairs that continued for some hours, almost all the way to Kenmare for me. There was a fine drizzle falling, but also a tailwind, and I barely noticed it, and made good time to Bantry. Kevin was keeping within a mile or so of me, either behind or in front, and taking photos and video at every opportunity.
At Dromkeal I turned off to take a more direct road across the Cork/Kerry border. This involved crossing a mountain, but I hadn’t thought too much of it in planning the route. In very poor visibility I got fairly majorly lost, before making my way towards the road, called the Priest’s Leap road. I was almost on it when I asked a telephone engineer where the mountain road that went over the Cork/Kerry border was. He asked “The steep one?”. I replied “Yes”, and he pointed up this narrow road.
Calling it steep doesn’t really do it justice. With section after section approaching a gradient of 1 in 5 covered in wet sheep poo, causing my rear wheel to slip, it was very hard work. I had to stop three times on the way up, and couldn’t even claim to myself that I was admiring the view, because I could only see about twenty feet in front of me. At least I didn’t have to worry about traffic. One farmer and his dog in a Land Rover were all the company I had.
With such low visibility, each time I crested a ridge, I thought that I had reached the top, only to find the road going upwards once more shortly thereafter. When I finally did get to the top, I was disappointed not to see any hint of a sign telling me I was leaving Cork and entering Kerry.
The journey down the other side was scarcely any better, and I had to stop once to give my forearms a rest from squeezing the brake levers. Even with brakes on full, I was descending at up to 20mph on loose gravel.
Near the bottom I finally emerged from the clouds and got my first view of the day. Not only that, but as I approached Kenmare, the sun began to shine!
After lunch with Kevin in Kenmare, I proceeded up to Moll’s Gap, and got the view of the day into Killarney National Park, and then the first descent of the day that I enjoyed, with sweeping bends and decent road surfaces.
Kevin left me shortly before Killarney to go ahead and sort out accommodation in Tralee. I was supposed to take some minor roads from Killarney, but the road was closed due to roadworks, and the workman informed me that I could try it, but there was hot tarmac, and he didn’t fancy my tyres lasting very long on it! I had to agree. As I turned back, I was rewarded with a great view of Macgillicuddy’s Reeks.
The final 20 miles weren’t particularly pleasant on the main road, but they passed swiftly enough. Kevin texted me to tell me where the B&B was, and I arrived there at 5 pm. Just under 91 miles done in just over 6 hours of cycling.
Day 1 statistics
Distance: 90.8 miles
Feet climbed: 5369
No. of dogs chased by: 2
No. of times got lost: 1
No. of times I thought I was at the top of Priest’s Leap Road: More than I care to remember