Mind the Gap
Today I almost killed Daddy. Not intentionally, mind you! And I did very seriously consider alternatives in order to guarantee his safety.
It all started innocently enough. We breakfasted at our usual hour. We drove into town. We rented bikes. We headed to Reen Pier at Ross Castle. We boarded a red boat.
We enjoyed a boat tour of the three lakes of Killarney.
And then I attempted to make Daddy bike up this.
Needless to say, my efforts were unsuccessful. Walking was employed. But conquer the Gap of Dunloe, we did.
I should interrupt myself here and note that Ryan will confirm that I have a wonderful ability (my words, not his) to deny things in a characteristically Meaghan way. I prefer to call this ‘willpower’ where he may call it ‘wilful blindness.’ Regardless, it generally effects the exact situation that I would like to occur. Ignoring unpleasantries and forcing things through until they’re the way I want them is generally how I get things done. Everyone else is just caught in the force of my nature.
So here we are, two miles in—Daddy already tired from the slow and steady uphill, his spirit now defeated—staring up three switchbacks across a more-or-less sheer uphill face, with no confirmation that it gets any better at what we can only guess may be the top from our current vantage point. This was the part at which I very seriously considered ferrying Daddy back and biking by myself, but what kind of an epic adventure story would that make? No kind at all, good sirs and madams—none.
I convinced Daddy to reassess the situation from the top. (Where the top was I didn’t define, of course; it’s relative.) We walked up the first bit, where he stopped again.
‘If you told me that the most beautiful views in Ireland are on the other side, you know, I might, but it’s not worth my health—’
I didn’t try to convince him by saying that they were the most beautiful views in Ireland (although they are)—I said something else instead, but even now I forget what it was.
I took his backpack, his jacket, his long-sleeved shirt, and his bike. He walked up the hill in shirtsleeves and I pushed both our bikes up, wondering whether having my arms half-cocked or out straight would be better. Half-cocked was easier to control, and would work my biceps more.
I must have looked so ridiculous, walking with a helmet still on.
Some rather overly friendly strangers asked if I needed assistance. ‘No, I’m here for the exercise!’ I replied cheerfully, ‘But thank you!’
Mea culpa, mea culpa, I repeated to myself as I jogged uphill attempting to corral two bikes and stay out of cars’ ways. This is my atonement for dragging Daddy into this. This is my punishment. I must pay.
Waiting for Daddy to catch a ways uphill at one point, the strangers actually took one of the bikes from me as they insisted to help. This kind of forceful niceness was not welcome, although I hope I managed to pretend that it was well received. Their help would not atone for my sins. I doubled my pace. I accidentally biked 25 miles in Gucci flats and a silk shirt once (in France, obviously). This hill is nothing to me. I only I could somehow tow Daddy…
Daddy was still straggling. Eventually I decided that it was high time for what’s called a jaunting cart.
I hailed a well placed passing cart, threw Daddy on it to make a new friend (along with his bike), and then I raced it to the top (and won!).
‘My, you’re fit!’ our cart driver exclaimed at the top. What I didn’t hear him ask Daddy after was, ‘Is she your girlfriend?’ Daddy was grateful for the compliment. We never did get his name, nor the horse. It turned out, though, that he was the cart driver for our stranger friends, so they sort of did help, in their way.
A camera cannot do justice to the view. It just falls short. You really have to see it.
We were waiting for the right weather for this for a few days now, but we ran out of time. Today it had to be. The morning was cloudy and cool—the perfect weather for biking. It wasn’t windy, so the boat tour across the lakes was calm and only a little chilly, without any chop to upset our breakfasts. I had barely broken a sweat when I reached the top of the hill.
‘I’m sorry for almost killing you,’ I apologised to Daddy in a rare moment of contrition. ‘Thanks for sticking it out. You’re a champion.’
In keeping with the theme of our Irish luck, at this point, a break in the clouds appeared, and the sun shone down on the valley.
‘You ready?’ I asked Daddy, from the highest point.
And we were off.
I post only some pictures because flipping through them made me sad at their inability to convey the beauty of this ride.
So it was just for us.
We reached the cafe at the bottom just as the clouds closed in over the sun again. We refilled our water there and prepared to head back to town. From there it was a 15km ride, which we completed in high time thanks largely to a lovely bike path.
I laughed a loud, heartfelt laugh once we were done. Made it! I drove us up the hill back home, and we settled into our room just as a soft rain began to fall.
I recommend this journey to anyone. The road is restricted, so only locals and guests can pass by car. So if you ever do see it—and don’t miss it in you’re in Killarney—then unless you’re physically fit and exercise daily, I recommend the jaunting cart. The drivers are kind, and entertaining.