Suckered into working, a pass in the mountain, and a new sport.

The Wandering Nerd July 30th, 2007

So I thought I could do the Gap of Dunloe tour today, y’know hire (rent) a bicycle, and have a nice relaxing time on a beautiful day. Bikes are pretty cheap to hire here, only about €12.50 for 24 hours.

I wanted to rent this bad boy:

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Huh!?! Wouldn’t that be great? Kickin’ it in my quad. Or, if I could find one, get a midget wrestler in a clown suit to drive while I stood in this like Caesar:

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I ended up with a pretty nice mountain bike and set off towards - what I thought - was gonna’ be a nice little bike trip.

The Park and Gap itself -

You enter via Killarney National Park and as you’ll see in the pics it’s pretty immediately impressive. There is a small rampart deeper in the park on the lake Lough Leane called Ross Castle. They had a number of displays on the building through the ages, and how it’s changed to reflect the geography of the area, as well as the need for different levels of defence.

From there you and your bike go into a little boat and do an hour and a half tour of the three major lakes in the park. There are some pretty impressive views from the lake…though for my money the better views came later. When we’d loaded up the boats, one of the guys pulled me out of the queue and put me in the bow of the boat. I didn’t really think to much about it, I’m a solo traveler and there was a spot for one person, that’s all I thought. Plus it allowed better views. When we were getting near the entrance to the second lake, the captain - in this case the guy running the outboard - told us the water level was too low to pass through a part of the lake and everyone would have to get out and walk a bit while he and two ‘volunteers’ stay with the boat to pull it along. Yeah, when we got there I somehow - amazingly - got the privilege of pulling a boat. The other guy pulling was French, so…well….you know.

There’s a small restaurant after the boat trip where I stopped for the soup/brown bread/sandwich before heading off - trying to remember to consume food more now. ‘Brown Bread’ is a dark dense bread that pretty well always goes with soup here.

The climb to the Gap was…let’s just say not what I expected. I alternated between trying to avoid a massive coronary, and not running off of the tiny road up to it - and avoiding the horse apples. There are three ways to get through the Gap assuming you’re not a resident on the road, or a official entity: Walk, Bike or Jaunty Horse. As near as I can figure, the “Jaunty” part is just descriptive of the cart and the fact that the springs are so flexible that you are essentially riding in a 1 horsepower version of a 1982 Lincoln. There was some kid in a cart that passed me who was clearly terrified beyond rational thought.

I think you go through about 1000′ of elevation change, though it felt like a bit more. At the top is a small rest area where everyone sits quietly with the same look of ‘why the hell did this seem like a good idea again?’ The only problem I really had was there was no 1-1 gear on my bike, it wouldn’t lock into it as the gearing cable was a bit too loose. Probably the only time ever I would need a gear that low and of course, shafted.

I was glad that I’d taken the advice of the Hostel employees - Neptune’s Hostel. Really fun place, btw. They were the ones who suggested taking the Gap backwards. So the south side is a pretty steady climb, but the North side, going down is all sorts of curvy. I think I may have inadvertently developed a new sport. Extreme Downhill Mountain Bike Siteseeing. The road was too perfect to not take at dangerous speeds, and I figured after not having a low gear on the bike, I was going to punish that front brake. I’d hurtle down the north road until I saw something really cool and I’d lock the bike up, hop off, take the shots and drop back in. All for you gentle reader. So you better enjoy some of those pictures. I briefly thought about seeing if I could get one of the horse drivers to take me back up to the top so I could have a go again with no stops, though more people were beginning to show up and I just called it at one. There’ll be other stupidly dangerous things I can do along the way I’m sure. :)

The north side is much more photogenic as you’ll see. At the bottom on that side is this little pub/restaurant which is perfect for a pint after all the work coming along the Gap. Then another 13km back to Killarney. Overall the trip was bout 15 miles I believe. Fun, but definitely felt blasted when I made it back. Sat out talking to a Dutch couple, an English guy, and a German girl. Then we were joined by a couple Swiss girls who were backpacking/hitchhiking their way down the west coast. All the other touristy sight seeing stuff is fun, meeting all these new folks is really where it’s at.

Enjoy!


it’s the part of the dream I can’t remember it at all
-blues traveler

4 Responses to “Suckered into working, a pass in the mountain, and a new sport.”

  1. D@v1Don 31 Jul 2007 at 12:39 pm

    After reading you today, I can’t wait to see if you will take a left turn toward the Dingle Peninsula and go after Conor Pass…
    during the same trip, if you see Fungie in the harbour take pictures so people won’t think you did a “too long of a visit” at the Foxy John’s … trying to rent a bike.

  2. JDon 31 Jul 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Ok brother… I thought someone else would have already typed it but I guess I was wrong…. You know the pictures of the sites is cool and all but I really want to see some pictures of the women…. You can email me personaly and give me the good details as well!

  3. shaggyon 31 Jul 2007 at 10:05 pm

    careful on the boats…. aye matey!

    I’m a sailor peg
    And I lost my leg
    I climbed up the topsails
    I lost my leg
    I’m shipping up to boston
    (whoa oh oh)
    -Dropkick Murphys

  4. Hoshion 02 Aug 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Righto!

    First, thanks for fixing the @#$%ing login issue, bro.

    Second, just listening to that report on the mountain biking ordeal made my taint hurt…bad.

    Glad you’re having such a good time. Wish I were there already as well. Soon enough, I guess…

    Whether on the scaffold high
    Or on the battle-field we die,
    Oh, what matter, when for Erin dear we fall.
    - Timothy Daniel Sullivan, God Save Ireland

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