This was our first full day, and after a decent nice sleep and a cracking breakfast, we ended up rolling out of the B&B at 10:20A.M. (only 20 minutes behind target!). We had good eather, no wind or rain, and not too hot. We stocked up on bananas and jaffa cakes, and then it was pretty much straight into the Cat 4 climb up to Molls Gap.
I was pretty nervous about it, because the only other time I did it was during the Ring of Kerry, where I ended up stopping maybe 3 or 4 times on the way up (granted it was after about 85 miles the last time!). But this time, even with the bags on, we were able to spin away up at about 9 or 10 mph, so not too bad (Donal was disappointed it wasn’t harder, I might have overstated it before!).
We stopped at the Avoca cafe, as agreed. Mainly because I thought I would be spent, but given how early it was (maybe 40 minutes in) it was probably a bit early. The descent down the Gap was pretty hairy, mainly because I found out the night before that my rear brakes hadn’t been working at all. Not sure why, but I think the mudguards were the cause: every time I hit the brakes there was a squeak but no stopping!
About an hour later we were in Killarney, where we stopped for water. Next we headed for Tralee via Farranfore, and as expected this stretch of road as very unpleasant, mainly because the roads were so busy with Bank Holiday traffic. A few close calls, but not too bad, and once most of the traffic branched off in at Farranfore the road into Tralee was alright.
Another stop in Tralee for sandwiches at a petrol station, and then the final 20-ish miles back into my home town of Ballybunion. After leading the team through the town I almost came to an end at a roundabout where I couldn’t clip out. Fortunately I fell onto Donal, and he broke my fall! There is a very short climb out of Tralee, only a mile or so, but around 10%, and to be honest it absolutely blew me away: heart rate was 170-180 all the way, very unpleasant (even though the day wasn’t too hilly my heart rate averaged around 160, very high)! The rest of the road in was pretty flat, although there were a LOT of complaints about the poor road surfaces. Coming from Kerry I knew there were bad, but the others didn’t really believe the difference between North and South Kerry (Jackie Healy Rae land)
The road in was pretty uneventful, but because I was pretty weak after the climbs the pace was fairly sedate, although there was a breakaway with around 5 miles to go (same culprits led a similar break-away into Malin Head). We set up camp at my parents, where we were able to do some repairs on the bikes (I decided brakes were more important than being dry, so the mudguards were removed!). The rest of the evening was spent with my family at my sisters, and then a solid nights worth of entertainment. People got to bed at varying times, the earliest being around 3A.M. Tomorrow was a heavy day!