100. Kicking Arse

Kicking Arse: During the months running up to this trip I thought for sure that we would be getting copious amounts of exercise what with all the walking and hiking that we would certainly be doing on a daily basis. Turns out the reality of the Asian “flash packer” lifestyle is that exercise comes and goes in waves between weeks lazing on beaches and more weeks taking 50 cent rickshaws everywhere. In Ireland though, there are no tropical beaches or cheap transportation. The dollar is declining by the minute making walking and biking an itemized piece of my daily budget. Thankfully Ireland is a very friendly place for both, with people coming from all over the world to make their way along any of the famous trails around the country.

I met up with a wonderful girl named Jessica through couchsurfing.com and we decided to travel together for the weekend down to Killarney in County Kerry. Jessica is a 21 year old from Canada who got a one-year working visa for Ireland. She’s living in Cork and working at a deli on the early morning shift. She gets every afternoon and weekend off making it super easy to travel around the country and see as much as possible in her year abroad. It’s a great opportunity and if I weren’t doing my own year traveling around I’d be very jealous. There is something to be said for the raw deal American students get compared to their European and Canadian peers though. They have clear systems in place if a student wants to live or travel abroad and no penalty is paid for skipping out a year and seeing the world. It’s quite normal and in many places an expected part of your shift into adulthood. Wouldn’t that have been nice?

Anyway, Jess and I met up after she got off from work and got on a bus to Killarney. We stayed at an International Youth Hostel just outside of town in a grand old castle that slept over 160 people, most of whom were German teens on some kind of school trip with exhausted chaperones. When we checked in, the bike rental guy got Jess all amped to bike the entire 60 kilometers through the best of the scenic points along the Ring of Kerry Way in Killarney National Park. To say I was a little concerned about my ability to survive a 39-mile bike ride would be an understatement. I’d been doing a lot of walking since I got to Ireland, but not that much walking.

The next morning we woke up early, got on our bikes, and were on our way. I told Jess multiple times that if at any point her tiny athletic 21 year-old body needed to bike ahead and leave my 31 year-old lazy butt behind, she should feel free to do so. I would catch up eventually or maybe be rescued by helicopter some day. At about 15k into the ride though, during some of the worst up hill action we would see all day, Jess got off her bike and declared that she would not be going any further. We’d made a mistake, she said, there was no chance we would make it the whole way. She decided that we should leave our bikes on the side of the path, walk as much as we could instead and come back for the bikes sometime later. I was stunned. Not only because I’m a woman in my 30’s who had no intention of leaving a bike I’d signed a contract for on the side of the road but also that I was now the one amped to finish the ride. I gave my best motivational speech and got Jess back on her bike. Soon after reaching the peak of the gorgeous Gap of Dunloe we were sailing downhill and Jess was thanking me for not letting her quit. We had a fantastic day. We biked the 60K but also had a picnic in the woods and a hike to waterfalls, took photos of horses, sheep and mules, wandered around an adorable hill top church and the ruins of the 7th century Inisfallen Abbey, and took a walking tour through the Muckross Estate and grounds. By evening we were almost home and stopped at a local pub for a well-deserved pint. Then Jess told me that she never thought I would be the one motivating her to keep going and that not only did I not look 31 but I didn’t act it either. Have I mentioned how much I love her?


  1. Anonymous says:

    lesli says “girl power”

    i say “30 something power”

    nice one,

  2. The Chez says:

    If you can do it in Portland,
    you can do it in Ireland.
    Then, and only then, do you
    learn that Portland truly is
    pretty flat.
    It’s times like that that really
    help you on later.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Haha! Your years are only apparant in your wise ways. To think I would have missed out on seeing such breathtaking scenery because I was a little whiny!


    :0) Jess