Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Borderline experiences on the Ring of Kerry

Sunday, 4th of September. Today's stage started with bright sunshine. Close before Kenmare one can see this nice waterfalls, which are leastwise partly man-made, but nevertheless (or maybe therefore) very nice.

I had been in Kenmare the day before, too. After the Crossroad Music Session Dean, a friend of him and I had been there, visiting a music shop, where a very nice guy not only repaired the peg of my guitar, he also optimized my strings and the bridge – and all for free. He seemed to be a very impassioned musician and it was fun to see him working with an instrument. Many thanks to Soundz of Muzic!

I also was familiar with the first ten Ring of Kerry kilometres from yesterday's Crossroad Music Session (even though you can't compare a car ride with cycling…), but up to Tahilla I had no idea why everybody is saying one have to see the Ring of Kerry. But then it became very interesting, and when I first reached the open sea (if you can say so) again, it was just great force of nature – stormy, powerful breaker, and then big rain started (all together a very atmospherical composition, my compliments to nature). The rain was much intense but ended after about 15 minutes and the sun dried my clothes pretty fast. Forget whatever I've said about all weathers days in the past – this was before I was familiar with the Irish weather. During the stage from Oxford up to Mitcheldean surely there were all kinds of weather, but one after another and evenly spread about the whole day. In Ireland the weather can change within minutes. After the big rain and the sunshine I had misty rain with clouds, sunshine with rain, rain with calms, storm with sunshine… But in the end the weather decided to be cloudy, rainy and very stormy (but no photo can show).

From Saneem, which seems to be a very touristic place (much sightseeing buses were standing there and also much people were on the street despite the bad weather), up to Castlecove, where to have a break for some salted food I had decided, it was pretty exertive to cycle within all these intense rain and it also became quite hilly so I celebrated every completed half of the last five kilometres to motivate myself – it wasn't that much about being exhausted but you have to have faith within this landscape. The friendly woman at An Siopa Dubh had nothing warm to eat but she offered to prepare a sandwich for me, which also helped.

Sometimes the rain stopped for a while, sometimes I even recognized this, sometimes I didn't recognize the rain had started again. One can become very stoic. There was also constantly uphill what I didn't really noticed within all this wind and all this rain who pattered not only on me but into my face while I was doing my cycling routine. From Cathair Dónall up to the highest point of Ring of Kerry the storm was so extreme, especially when the winding road met the open coast side! It was really hard to keep the faith, all this storm attacks just felt like if someone tries to distress you, to put you down by pushing you around again and again. I wasn't so sure about how to act with this phenomenon. It's not a thing where one can say just stop fighting it – the storm doesn't care about it. Close to the highest point of Ring of Kerry it blew me from my bike – one heavy squall came and pushed me to the left, but I could stave off and by doing so or maybe doing a little bit to much the squall caught me again, this time to the other side, and knocked me and my bike over. I'm not really sure what happened, in the end my bike was laying on the side with its front in opponent direction and I was lying on my back. Nothing happened to me, I just hurried to put my bike and all my stuff that loosened from the bike away from the street. Fortunately there was no traffic at this moment, otherwise it would have been really dangerous. One car, which had passed me immediately before, had stopped in some distance, but when the driver saw I seemed to be okay he went on.

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After this I once was sitting next to the street and crying. You feel so helpless because it's nothing what's within your powers. I wasn't exhausted, you can't say I was unalert or did some other mistake (beside cycling within this weather), the storm was just so much more powerful than I. After a while I went on, pushing the bike carefully, and after the next turn not only I was outside the stormy area I also reached the top, and from now on I rolled downhill, but extremely carefully and totally aware of this life-threatening situation. Now my bike has some more scratches, the Ganesha clinger, whom I had tied on my handle bar extension, peeled away, but I found it on the street.

Down in Waterville maybe five kilometres later I had a break and found a nice hostel and also much nicer backpackers. I was full of energy and had some nice chit-chat, two hot chocolates with marshmallows (my first time), some chips for free because one guy attained them for unravel a mystery (he will study philosophy and mechanical engineering – I love this combination…). And then I went back outside to cycle, full of positive energy while all the others were so happy to be inside a warm, protected house. I just felt fine.

Waterville isn't that cosy as most of the other Irish towns and places I have seen so far, especially not on such a rainy and stormy day, but a real bleakly seaside town, affronting the elements. Meanwhile it went dark and I had some problems with my front light which works a little bit irregular (my back light seem to work not at all). Shortly after my speedo computer went mad by showing no speed or the wrong speed (and sometimes the right speed, but one can't trust). This is a thing what really frustrated and concerned me, it undercuts my inner balance. Surely the display of the completed kilometres is sometimes important for orientation, for example when you have to catch a side road in a special distance, but what concerned me much more was the fact that my cycling doesn't seem to count if it's not measured. It galls me that this effects me so much. (After a while my speedo computer seemed to be okay again, but I couldn't see that much, too.)

To find my tonight's host Ciaran I had to take a cross road one or two kilometres before Cahersiveen. But with more and more darkness surrounding it's not that easy to read the signs – once again I missed having a torch. So I was standing at one cross road and tried to read my map by using the crossing cars' headlight. When one car slowed down to turn off I signed them to stop so I could asked for some help and in the end the car driver offered me a lift. Today's stage had 80 kilometres.

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