Travel Fail: Cycling the Ring of Kerry

For months, I excitedly planned to cycle the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. After spending plenty of time in Northern Ireland with my partner, Adam, we wanted to find a unique way to explore other parts of the island. I had seen beautiful photos of the Ring of Kerry and heard great things from Irish and world travelers alike. 

 

cycle route ring of kerry

 

Renting a car in Ireland can be surprisingly expensive. In order to have a more budget-friendly experience, we borrowed some bicycles to explore. Now it should be noted that we are not cyclers in the sense that many people are. As I told an old farmer when begging to use his toilet, “We are more beer drinkers than cyclers .” I had never even done more than a few miles on a bike before this trip. 

 

Planning our First Cycle Tour

Upon making the decision to do a cycle tour, I realized that we knew nothing about this kind of travel. What to carry with us, how to pack, how far to ride, etc.  I wanted a ‘Cycle Touring for Dummies’ comprehensive guide but instead spent hours on Youtube, Pinterest, and reaching out to people who had done a trip like this.

 

cycle ireland

 

We packed very sparingly, taking: a repair kit, spare tube, bike pump, rain gear, a few outfits, and some toiletries.  I was also given this awesome HIP-HOPPER Bike Bag for my trip from Dirtbag Bikepacking. It was by far the best accessory for the trip as it hooked to the handlebars or around my waist as a bum bag/fanny pack style bag so I could use it both on and off the bike. 

From Northern Ireland, we traveled via buses and trains to reach Killarney where the journey began. For accommodations, I booked a series of Airbnbs along the route having us cycle 30-45 miles per day. 

*Protip: If you are planning a cycle tour, using google maps to route from point A to point B by bike shows you the hills that you will be facing. This allows you to modify your route to avoid mountain passes, something I wish I had done in hindsight, Ireland has many hills. 

 

Stop 1: Killarney

Sitting alongside Killarney National Park, a cute and colorful Irish town filled with pubs and friendly locals. There is also a train station and bus station to connect to other towns around the island. We visited the Northernmost part of the National Park where we saw several herds of deer and watched the sunset over the lake at Ross Castle.

 

ross castle

 

Airbnb: We stayed in Central Killarney with our host, Charles. He was a very thoughtful host; he set the table for us since we were leaving early and provided us with breakfast before we left on our first full day of cycling. His home was the perfect location for us to access everything. [Click photo to access Airbnb Booking] 


*If you are new to Airbnb, consider booking through HERE for $40.00 off your first stay [and giving me credits to continue traveling.]

 

Stop 2: Derriana Lake [Cycled: 33 Miles/53 Kilometers]

 

Our first day of cycling was hard; probably the hardest thing I have ever physically done. It felt like we were going uphill only to find more hills to climb. BOY WAS I OUT OF SHAPE. In order to reach our next Airbnb, we decided to wander off the typical Ring of Kerry and cut right through the middle of the peninsula. This means that we climbed the ‘Highlands of Kerry’ and cycled alongside Ireland’s highest mountain peak. *Facepalm* It took us 10 hours due to the amount of uphill we had to walk. 

 

tired biker

 

Airbnb: Finally arriving at the Lake was a moment I will never forget. The rural lake is surrounded by green hillsides filled with sheep and the occasional farmhouse. The beauty of this secluded Airbnb made the hard day of cycling worth it. We were able to watch the sunset together at Gerard’s traditional Irish Farmhouse home. It was a cold night but he made sure we were warm with heaters and blankets. [Click photo to access Airbnb Booking] 

 

sunset ireland*If you are new to Airbnb, consider booking through HERE for $40.00 off your first stay [and giving me credits to continue traveling.]

 

Stop 3: Portmagee [Cycled: 30 Miles/48 Kilometers]

After a rough first day of cycling, Adam and I were both relieved at the amount of downhill on our second day. I started having lots of fun and felt far more comfortable on the bike. We arrived at the seaside town of Cahersiveen; boasting turquoise blue waters and colorful buildings with enough time to enjoy a pint of Guinness and some lunch at a small pub. The next portion of our route was along the Wild Atlantic Way, keeping along the coast. We arrived in Portmagee earlier than our check-in time so we found another pub to pass the time and hide from the quickly approaching snow storm. 

 

bridge bar ireland

 

Airbnb:  Marie is the person who had the biggest impact on our entire trip. She is the Irish hero of our cycle trip failure. We booked one night to stay with her but alas, at this point of our journey is when we receive the bad news. The Beast from the East snowstorm was fast approaching and everyone was advised to stay put. We ended up staying five days snowed in with her. 

 

beast from the east

 

Marie was the perfect example of Irish hospitality; she fed us hearty dinners every night and made sure to keep the fire burning when it was cold. We ended up gaining weight on our cycle tour due to eating so well during these few days!  Marie’s home is across from the Skellig Cliffs and her family operates one of the boats that take tourists [in the summer months] to the ‘Starwars Island’ of Skelling Michael. I cannot recommend her enough, Portmagee is off of the typical ring of Kerry but well worth a visit.   [Click photo to access Airbnb Booking] 

 

*If you are new to Airbnb, consider booking through HERE for $40.00 off your first stay [and giving me credits to continue traveling.]

Travel Fail: Snowed Out

Honestly, If you are going to be snowed in somewhere, Portmagee was a slice of heaven. Due to getting snowed in, we had to cancel the remainder of our cycle tour. We had 7 more days of cycling ahead of us; visiting more cities and regions of the island but unfortunately, the weather was not permitting and road conditions were poor. I canceled the remainder of our Airbnbs and booked bus/train tickets back to Northern Ireland. While it was out of our control, it was sad to spend months anticipating a trip that couldn’t be completed. I did get refunded some of my money due to the storm, but ultimately it was a TRAVEL FAIL.  

 


 

Even though the trip overall was a Travel Fail, I am still forever grateful for The Things My Eyes Have Seen along the way.

Have you ever had a travel fail? Let me know in the comments below

8 comments
  1. Sounds like a success to me!

    1. In a strange way, it was a success just as much as it was a failure! Good point <3

  2. Wow! That looks like a lot of work! I love the exhausted pic of you with the bike!

    1. Ha ha, that was the reality of it, but it was good fun overall!

  3. You are my hero!

    1. Awh Franki, you are my hero too!! Thanks for reading <3

  4. Even tho it was a fail it was still an amazing trip! First time seeing that part of the country and i cant wait to get back down!

    1. I think we were able to put a positive spin on it, I always have a nice time with you!

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