Tandem challenge as cyclists hit the Ring

Sinead Kelleher

After 35 years on the road the Ring of Kerry cycle has certainly proved its success and this weekend cyclists will once again show their strength when they take on the 180km charity cycle.

With continuing good weather forcast for what is Kerry's biggest fundraising event, cyclists are in for a treat as they traverse the Ring of Kerry, and see some of the most scenic locations in all the glory of this year's summer sunshine.  

Up to 7,000 cyclists are expected to take on the challenge and although the number is lower than in some other years, this will ensure a safe and secure event this Saturday.  

There are plenty of tales from the Ring of Kerry's 35-year history and two Kerry cyclists can now add their story to this as they take on the challenge on a tandem bike.  

What started as a joke for Brendan O'Connor and Joanne Crowley from Fenit has now turned into an epic challenge. Although both are cyclists, a tandem bike is a new challenge but they are taking it in their stride.  

"Brendan kept slagging about it and I called his bluff," says Joanne.  

The pair haven't had that much practice having only got on the tandem three for four times so the test will be down to good communications on the day.  

"Once we communicate we'll be fine," says Joanne.  

The idea came about after Joanne cycled a tandem bike in her entrance at Churchill Come Dancing but this time will be somewhat different. 

Their chosen charity is the Kerry Hospice Foundation. Joanne works at the palliative care unit at University Hospital Kerry so it was without doubt her chosen charity.  

This is the ultimate aim of the cycling event which over the years has raised millions of euro for local charities and has been instrumental in ensuring the future of many of Kerry's vital services in its 35 year history. Fifteen charities will benefit from this year's cycle.  

Joanne and Brendan will join some well-known personalities on route, including TV3 presenter Deric O'Hartigan and RTE Journalist Paschal Sheehy.  

The history of the Ring of Kerry will be celebrated throughout this weekend, starting with a special exhibition on Friday evening at the New Street Car Park, which will feature classic bikes as well as an Old Velos Trike challenge.  

There will be fun for all the family, with a special 'Pedal in the Park' taking place from Deenagh Lodge at 7pm on Friday, July 6, in association with Kerry Sports Partnership and Killarney Cycling Club.

Aiding Kerry start-ups, a Prosper Kerry Seminar also takes place in the Killarney Plaza Hotel from 7.30pm on Friday. 

The official start time is 7.30am on Saturday, July 7, and there will be welcome celebrations at the finish line in Beech Road car park from 2pm, with food, refreshments and live music from The Aftermath, Rhythm & Sticks and much more.  

Road closures are in place and motorists are being advised that there will be thousands of cyclists on route throughout the day.