The Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle wouldn’t be anything without you guys – the fundraisers. Last year over 11,000 of you helped raise over €1.85 million. The money you raised went to several different charities and helped towards building a much-needed extension for the Valentia Island Community Hospital, building additional rooms for the Aras Mhuire Nursing Home and the building of a new wing for St. Francis Special School.
One of these fundraisers is Declan McGuinness, a fundraiser grabbed our attention when he left the following statement on our page last December…
“I did the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle in 2014. I’m the wrong side of 40. Well past. I’m the wrong side of 17 stone. Well past. I’m the wrong side of Grecian 2000. Very well past. But in the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle last year (2014) I charged up the hill in Killorglin like Sean Kelly. I led the pelaton most of the way into the breeze heading for Cahirciveen. I couldn’t find my penis in Waterville. I had to wee like a lady. I hugged another chubby lad in blue at the top of Coomakista. I hugged him way too tight. And way too long. I sighed when I saw the half-way sign just over the top. That was cruel. My extra bulk allowed me freewheel most of the way to Castle somewhere even though I had the brakes on full. I cramped badly outside the pie shop in Sneem. Someone gave me gels. Someone gave me drinks. Someone gave me a massage rub thing. Someone told me to lie down. Someone told me to get up. Everyone helped. I made it to the garage in Kenmare. I got a big cheer of relief and disbelief that I was still going. The lad I hugged at the Coomakista went past on the bus. That broke my heart. I caught his eye. He looked away. So did I. I walked some of Molls Gap. St John’s ambulance asked was I OK. I said I was grand but the bike was knackered. Met the remnants of the gang at the top who waited ages for me. From then on it was a doddle. I dropped my glasses at Muckross. It was lashing. I didn’t stop. If I had I might not have made it. All the gang were at the finishing line. I cried like a baby. Sean Kelly would have been disgusted.
Anyway, that’s the Ring of Kerry. It’s not a right, it’s not an entitlement – it’s a privilege to be part of it. It’s the best thing I did last year. I laughed. I cried. I was sore. I cramped. I lost my penis. I hugged strangers. But I finished it. And 10 euro to charity for the chance to do it again is the best 10 euro I will ever spend. And if you don’t get that, you may just be missing the whole point of it all. Nite all. See you in July. If I’m lucky. Stay safe :-)”
We caught up with Declan to find out why he decided to cycle in our event, how many friends he made on the day, what kept him going and more…
So we see from your comment on Facebook that the cycle was an emotional event…
Yes very much so… I described it in detail in my FB comment (laughing).Last year was my first year doing the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. I’m doing it again this year and really looking forward to it. The whole family are doing it, there’s about 8 of us coming down. And my brother and his wife are coming from Australia to do it.
Why did you decide to cycle?
I don’t know. There are lots of different reasons. I do it for charity, I cycle a lot against suicide, I do it for fitness, I do it to talk to people, I do it to get out of the house for fresh air. It’s good exercise too.
Did you meet many people along the way? Make new friends?
Hundreds. There’s maybe 20 people in my friends list from cycling that I didn’t have. I met two girls from Enniskillen who did the cycle, I still keep in touch with them. Quite a few people from Offaly and Tullamore and places like that and I still keep in touch with them. Looking forward to catching up again this year.
From your comment on Facebook, we see that the cycle was also a very tough event. How did you feel after it?
I felt exhausted…. But brilliant! I came across the line cheering and in tears. You’d be so exhausted and you’d be so proud of yourself! You’d be so happy for everyone who’s finished it and sad for the ones who ended up on the bus. I thought it was brilliant in general. The scenery is brilliant but I do it more for the people you meet and the crack you have.
Would you recommend the ROK Charity cycle to others?
Definitely! I said it in my Facebook post and I genuinely mean it. I thought it was the best thing I did last year. I am a big fella, I do carry a bit of weight I don’t look like a cyclist but genuinely enjoy it. I get a lot of encouragement. I met another big lad on the route and the two of us ended up walking for a little bit together. He was so proud that he made it to Coomakista . And I remember thinking that it’s fantastic that we are here, at the top of the mountain in County Kerry . And then when I was in Kenmare he went pass on the bus. I felt a bit sad for him.
You do see people struggling, you do give them a hand and you do give advice. And you do get advice. People come to you and offer you water. People were giving me gels when I was in cramps. They suggest you to lie down, drink plenty. You get advice and support along the way. It’s an absolutely brilliant experience.
What kept you going?
I had family and friends, about 10 of us started off together. It’s just the determination, wanting to finish it. I really wanted to finish it and I didn’t care about the time. My attitude is pretty simple- I just want to keep it going.
Even if I can’t finish it, I’ll come back next year and finish it. You just challenge yourself. I don’t go fast. My goal was to finish it and I did. I did have to stop and walk for a bit. But people passing by would encourage you “You’re nearly there- keep going” and that’s a brilliant feeling. I started at 6 o’clock in the morning and didn’t finish it till 6 o’clock in the evening. Even if I hadn’t finished it that day, I would’ve got up the next morning and I would’ve driven to where I stopped to finish.
Any tips for those who are doing it this year ?
Take your time! Eat plenty, train, drink plenty but above it all take your time. Start slow and build your way up. Be out there and enjoy it. Enjoy the scenery. It’s all about meeting people, having a chat, it’s about people who are doing it for a good cause. I put my Facebook post up because I got annoyed with people giving out about the cycle. It’s a charity event, it’s one of the best things you can do. And it’s not an entitlement, it’s a privilege to be part of it. And I thank everybody that’s involved in organising the event.