Travel Fail: Cycling the Ring of Kerry

Have you ever had a travel fail? This was my first.  Talking to other travelers about their experiences with travel fails, it reaffirmed that sometimes these things just happen. Sickness happens, injuries happen, and mother nature happens. In our case, we set off to cycle the Ring of Kerry and Southern Ireland but it quickly came to a halt when a freak snow storm hit the island. 

Cycling Ireland's Ring of Kerry, read more here!

⇑ Pin me for WANDERLUST

Confession: I am not a Cyclist

My partner at the time, Adam, lived in Northern Ireland. I was going to visit him for Valentine’s Day, we decided to plan an additional adventure together. Many people visit the Ring of Kerry when they come to Ireland. Working in a hotel in Northern Ireland allowed me to frequently gain advice from travelers.  I knew this is where I wanted to go to with Adam.

Cycling  quickly became our method of travel for this adventure as renting a car in Ireland can be more difficult to arrange and costly.  We borrowed some bicycles from friends/family and booked the tickets on bus and train to take us from Northern Ireland down to the South of Ireland. It was easy for me to romanticize us cycling through the green hillsides, smiles on our faces.

Now it should be noted that we are not cyclers.  I had never even done more than a few miles on a bike before this trip. Hell, I didn’t even know how to change a flat tire! 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.

Within hours I realized that I may be out of my element, for the first of many times, as I spoke to an old farmer in the countryside. I was trying to explain to him why exactly we were cycling around. He wrongly assumed we must be experienced cyclers.  “I don’t know what were thinking… we are more beer drinkers than cyclers .” Then I confesed that I only really wanted to use his bathroom. Thank you sir!

Guinness in Ireland

Pre-Departure

Together we planned this trip to start in Killarney, cycling around the Ring of Kerry and continuing along the Coast to Cork and eventually up to Killkenny. For accommodations, I booked a series of Airbnbs along the route; each airbnb was 30-45 miles apart. We planned to spend about 2 weeks doing this.

Because I am not a cyclist, or frankly very active to begin with, I decided to do some training for the trip. Now in the middle of wintertime in Utah is not the best time to pick up a cycling hobby. A few nights a week I would hop on my elliptical bike with a pint of high point beer and watch Irish comedies on Netflix for training. What can I say? I was training for the ENTIRE experience!

We packed very sparingly, taking: a repair kit, spare tubes, a bike pump, rain gear, a few outfits, and some toiletries.  I was also given this awesome, hand-made HIP-HOPPER BIKE BAG for my trip from Dirtbag Bikepacking, based out of Wyoming. 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. I still use this baby allllllll the time.

↑ Packing for the trip  and using Frontier Air for the first time.

*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. 

 


 

Day 1: Killarney

We arrived by train in Killarney after a few transfers, this is the only train station along the ring of kerry though buses are frequent. Killarney is a cute and colorful Irish town with pubs, small shops, and friendly locals.  It is situated alongside of the beautiful Killarney National Park. We spent the evening cycling around the park; we saw several herds of deer and watched the sunset at Ross Castle (pictured below.)

Airbnb: We rented a room in Central Killarney with our host, Charles. He was a very thoughtful host; setting the table for breakfast the evening before since we were leaving early, and providing us with breakfast. His home was the perfect location to access everything.

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

Cycing Killarney National Park

Ross Castle, Killarney National Park, Ireland.

 


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

Our first full 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. Rather than to stick to the typical Ring of Kerry, we booked an airbnb in 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 and the frequency we chose to stop and eat sandwiches. 

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 our host, Gerard’s, traditional Irish Farmhouse. 

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

tired biker

cycle ring of kerry

Cycle Ring of Kerry

sunset ireland

 


Day 3: Portmagee [Distance Cycled: 30 Miles/48 Kilometers]

The next morning we woke up to frost on the ground, some enthusiasm, sore muscles, and a hot cup of coffee.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  still stopped to eat lots of sandwiches, but we arrived at the seaside town of Cahersiveen early. This was a fun place to stop and have a pint of Guinness and gaze at the turquoise water.

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. Alas, we found another pub to pass the time and hide from the quickly approaching snow storm. 

Airbnb:  Marie, our host in Portmagee, is the person who had the biggest impact on our entire trip. She is the Irish hero of our cycle trip failure. We had originally 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.

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. She did every thing in her power to help us. To pass the time, we watched hours of netflix and drank tea by the fire. We even 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.   

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

The Bridge Bar, Portmagee Ireland. Cycling the RIng of Kerry

 


 

Travel Fail: That One Time.. We Were Snowed In

If you are going to stuck somewhere, Portmagee was a great place to end up. Due to getting snowed in, we had to cancel the remainder of our cycle tour. Unfortunately, the weather was not permitting and road conditions were poor. While it was out of our control, it was sad to spend months anticipating a trip that couldn’t be completed. I had hyped this trip up and I felt ridiculous for only achieving a small portion of the trip.

On the contrary, I felt proud of what I had done physically and happy to share it with someone I cared about. Adam and I had a great time together on this trip (and doing about anything together,) we have since separated but still share these wonderful memories. 

Cycle the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. Read the travel fail here

⇑ Pin me for another time ⇑

Would I do it again?

Even in just a few days of cycling we managed to get lost, have to push our bikes up steep hills, thought about quitting (ok, this was mostly me,) gained sore arses and thick calves. But the answer is YES. A million times yes, I would do it all again.

For next time; I would get a better bike, choose my route with care, and train more. 

 


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

Have you ever had a travel fail? Interested in doing a cycle tour yourself? 

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *