Arriving at the Kenmare Bay Hotel this afternoon I had one eye looking up over the nearby mountains at a glimpse of blue beyond the clouds. The forecast was for the sun to make an appearance and combined with some spectacularly scenic cycling routes it was looking like the perfect day to get out and ride my bike.
As soon as I checked in and made my way over to the very luxurious two bedroom house that is to be my base for the next few days, the first thing I did was to hop into my cycling gear and get out onto the open road.
Leaving the hotel and passing through the bustling, picture perfect town of Kenmare I crossed the steel bridge and swung right following the now familiar signposts for the Wild Atlantic way.
With the wind on my back, the sea to my right and mountains to my left I was in cycling paradise, and this was just the beginning.
After about 18k a sign appeared for the Healy Pass, so of course I followed it. The road narrowed and began to climb almost immediately. The traffic was light and the sun was now shining down on me, life was good.
Many people training for events like the Etape de Tour come here to train, and it is easy to see why. Climbs like the Healy Pass and the Caha pass resemble the feel of some continental climbs, with views to match.
The Healy Pass averages about 5% for 5.5km and is the type of climb that once you find a rhythm you can hold the same steady pace to the top. The spectacular views keep you distracted from the effort required to keep moving forward.
The descent from the Kerry side to the Cork side reminded me of Sa Calobra in Mallorca with its many twisting hairpins.
After you reach the bottom it’s a pretty straight run into the next town that looks like it launched a thousand postcards. Glengariff is a beautiful small fishing town that makes a great location for a coffee stop on this loop. You can sit between the locals and the tourists soakig up the relaxed atmosphere. Here a left turn points you towards The Caha Pass. A longer climb at 7.5k with an average gradient of 4% along with a good road surface make this another enjoyable climb. The reward at the top is yet another continental flavour with a tunnel making the announcement that you have arrived. This is also the Kerry/Cork border so you even get a sign welcoming you to Kerry.
Another fast descent follows bringing you back in the direction of Kenmare once more. Along the way you pass Molly Gallivans which looks like a regular stop for tour busses to drop off those in search of a souvenir or two. Then comes the village of Bonane. Most small villages in Ireland have a few houses, a Church and a Pub. This village however is a little different. It has a few houses, a Church and a Chocolatier, where you can watch them making their very own chocolate in house.
Back at The Kenmare Bay Hotel I had a quick shower before heading over to the leisure centre for a dip on the jacuzzi to speed up recovery for another big day in the Kerry mountains tomorrow.
This route would rate a five out of seven for difficulty.
Here is a downloadable map of todays Kenmare Bay 83k
Here is todays Strava file
And here is a smartphone downloadable file on mapmyride
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