Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Friday, October 31, 2014

Ireland - Clifden to Westport

We had planned to ride the Sky Road out of Clifden, but the access road right out of town was filled with construction vehicles and closed off.  The Sky Road is an 11 km loop around the peninsula just west of town, climbing up to the ridge-line for a while to provide stunning views of the 12 Bens. It was pretty clear to us that there would be no views at all today, so we didn't bother trying to sneak around the construction zone. Next visit.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ireland - Cong to Clifden

You wouldn't think you could get lost leaving a tiny little village like Cong, but still we managed it.

When touring, we'll often plan out our intended route for the day - first using our paper maps for the big picture and then actually plotting out the route on the computer using software like RideWithGPS (if we have internet, or Mapsource if we don't). Having a route downloaded onto a GPS means we don't have to stop so frequently to check maps,  especially handy here where we're often faced with a mishmash of tiny little roads, and the signs at the crossroads point not to the large village that is our planned lunch stop or overnight stop, but rather just the next little crossroads a kilometer or so away. And sometimes signs pointing different ways show the same name - a low road and a high road - as it were. The GPS is also really useful in Ireland since we don't have to constantly pull out our paper maps in the rain, meaning they stay dry and in one piece. Since we each have a GPS, it also means that one of us can stop to take a nature break or photos or whatever and the other can keep cycling without too much fear of getting separated for too long.

Ashford Castle

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ireland - Anthenry to Ross Friary and Cong

We knew when we planned a trip to Ireland in late autumn that our fenders and rain gear would likely get lots of use. And indeed, the weather we encountered this year did not let us down in that regard!

The very wet and dreary forecast for Tuesday seemed to suggest that we stay indoors and work on the blog. Well obviously that didn't happen! Instead we took the train into Dublin city center for some off-bike fun. Our first stop really should have been to get some welly-boots, but instead we made a bee-line for espresso.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ireland - Rolling Hills of County Meath

John claims that I have silly superstitions about weather. He fails to acknowledge that he inspired many of them, with all his talk about Irish weather. It was John who taught me things like it will stop raining only after everyone in the group has stopped to put on a jacket. Then the sun comes out making those jackets more like saunas, but it will start to rain again if anyone dares to stop and remove the sweat-inducing garment.  If you ask John when is the best time to go to Ireland for a bike tour, he will tell you September - after school is back in session - because when he was a lad, the weather always improved after his summer holidays ended. He told me that the worst weather inevitably occurs on holidays, with St. Patrick's Day traditionally having some of the most epic conditions.

The riverside bike path made for a pleasant way to leave Drogheda.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ireland - Ballykissangel

On Sunday, we took advantage of David's car to do a ride in eastern Wicklow, with a remote start. This meant we wouldn't have to spend half the ride battling with traffic, as it is now much trickier to cycle to and from that area than in the halcyon days of John's youth. 

Creature comforts.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Ireland - Hill of Tara

At last, Saturday arrived and my week of cycling solo was finally over. No more riding with just my imagination for company. John was now officially on vacation and ready to join me on rides and head off on a tour. His work computer had been powered down and packed away. Maps and bicycles would now capture his attention instead. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ireland - Blessington

On the first full day of my first trip to Ireland, back in 1993, John took me out to a lovely tea room called the Skillet Pot in Blessington. Ah yes, I remember it well.

That trip to Ireland was essentially our third date. The first date had been an all day tandem ride followed by a quiet dinner for two away from the PAC Tour crowds near the end of that tour. Our second date, a few weeks later, was a weekend in New York City, where John had a long layover, as he made his way back home to Ireland.

As randonneurs, it appears our dates span the time frame of a brevet! 

One of the many locks on the towpath

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ireland - Tailwind!

Don't be so naive! There is no such thing as a tailwind! 

Experienced cyclists know that there are three states of being with regard to wind: headwinds, crosswinds, and I'm having a good day! We all know that after all the effort one expends pushing into a brutal headwind, the return journey is never the reward it should be. You might not have to work as hard, but it's never a case of just being able to sit up and coast home. The tease of a forthcoming tailwind is a cruel one. So rather than constantly being disappointed, experienced cyclists soon come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a tailwind. As further evidence, no cyclist has ever credited a tailwind for their ranking on a strava segment. Headwinds may slow you down, but if you ride faster, it's down to your skill and training and fitness!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ireland - Trim Castle and Bective Abbey

As I pedaled through the village on Kilcloon on Monday morning, it seemed like the whole community had come out to celebrate my triumphant return to cycling in Ireland. My imagination ran wild:

I had established a massive lead over the peloton after a long solo attack. As I crossed the finish line, I blew kisses to the adoring fans who were dressed in my team colors and lining the road at the finish line.

Back to reality, I refrained from raising my arms in victory as I passed through a large crowd of celebrants, who were not actually dressed in pixie pink, but instead wearing the colors of their local sports team.  A few minutes before, as I entered this little crossroads of a village, I had noticed loads of cars overflowing the church parking lot and all along the roadside. This gathering wasn't for me. And no one actually cheered as I stood and sprinted along the parade route.

Monday, October 13, 2014

F2G2 - Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder

I have a whole slew of posts to put together from our September trip in Oregon, but Fear Rothar still has to whittle down the massive number of photos he took on that trip, so in the meantime I'm skipping ahead to a ride we did last weekend. While the Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder also involved numerous photo stops per mile, being just a one day event, the sheer number of photos was smaller, making his task of going through them much less daunting. As such, it allows me to have an almost timely post, for once. But fear not, Oregon posts are forthcoming! After all, we've got to get them out before we go to Ireland and create an even worse backlog! [It would help if I wasn't working 16-hour days - FR] [Whatever - FP]