“And you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles” – Flann O’Brien, Irish novelist and playwright, The Third Policeman
One of the most fantastic features of the Wild Atlantic Way is the variety in topography you’ll encounter as you travel along its craggy nooks and crannies. Around each corner, a hugely diverse range of attractions unfurl from the lofty cliffs at Slieve League to the inimitable karst backdrop of The Burren to the sandy beaches and impressive landscapes of the Ring of Kerry. Among spectacular scenery, shining sunsets and glistening surf, the ground beneath you can change from beach to bog to mountain in moments.
Fat wheels on the edge of the world
For these reasons, one of the best and most adventurous ways to traverse the Wild Atlantic Way is astride the top of two fat wheels. A fatbike is an off-road bicycle with over-sized wheels - up to 100mm wide - with tyres to match. It is designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft unstable terrain, such as snow, sand, bogs and mud. The improved traction when riding through sandy or swampy ground is a result of a set of monster tires that allow a bike to roll where it’s never rolled before.
For example, the beautiful landscapes of Connemara contain a wealth of scenic trails just begging to be explored. The Maumturk Mountains and the pewter-tinged peaks of the Twelve Bens hide a trove of biking treasures. Further north, the Slieve League Sea Cliffs are among some of the highest maritime crags in Europe and will exercise your eyes and legs as you climb towards spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, Sligo Mountains and Donegal Bay.
Spectacular views are only a pedal away
For a Ring of Kerry cycle with a difference, go off-road to explore some of the glassy lakes, rolling hills and stony trails situated along the route.
To get a flavour of some of the views you can expect from the saddle, the video featured above follows the adventures of three intrepid fat bikers as they cycle through the backwaters of Connemara and Donegal.
To sample the freedom in real life, MBW Bike Works offer professionally maintained and serviced fatbikes for rental. Located in Moycullen, County Galway, the surrounding countryside provides a kaleidoscope of bog and mountain.
For a more detailed account of conquering wild Atlantic ways by fat bike, read MBW owner Garry Davoren and his friend William O'Connor's account of their adventures in North Donegal.
Of course, for those with less of an ‘over, under, through’ mentality, there are plenty of alternative cycling options available all along the route.
For more information on these, explore here.