Photo by Jason DeVarennes

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.

Our destination for the day was the village of Avoca, made famous (to me) as the setting for the fictional village from eponymous Irish television series, Ballykissangel. We watched this show in the late 90's. We stumbled across the show one Saturday evening, when I was flipping through channels and John recognized some old familiar scenery. He was forever pointing out some backdrop in the show as being some place he used to cycle through. He also liked to tell me the characters were not all exaggerated Irish stereotypes, but often reminded him of people he knew. The show was on Saturday evening, and it almost became like we were heading down to the local pub when we tuned in! And just as if it was our local pub, I grew so attached to the characters that I practically went into mourning when one was killed off partway through the series. The show last aired in 2001, but after our spin through town past the pub that was Fitzgerald's, I had to go look for and mark the series on netflix or amazon, so I could rewatch a few episodes.

As we were driving out to our remote start, I noticed lots of cyclists, riding down the shoulder of the main road. I could not imagine, why, with so many lovely quiet and scenic places to ride that anyone would choose to ride down a busy highway. Seems that some folks just train for speed, and heading down a flat main road with no traffic lights will allow for a higher average speed. I guess (given the lack of scenery) they also don't have to stop as frequently as we do for photos, nor would they be tempted, like John, to take detours just to ride up steep climbs [The Devil's Glen]. Despite such temptation from The Devil, John skipped the bonus climb, claiming that daylight was precious and limited on this overcast, chilly day. Even without that particular climb, we managed to accumulate a fair amount of climbing and descending on our little spin in the eastern foothills of the Wicklow Mountains.

The day had no lack of punchy climbs...

...and tricky descents.

We enjoyed a nice hot lunch at the world famous, or so they claim, Avoca Woolen Mills, before making our way down into the village I know as BallyK.


As we were making our way back along a muddy lane, we passed by a farm house where a very friendly border collie came out to herd us along for a while. We stopped numerous times to try and send her back home. At one point, as we hit a good descent we felt sure we'd outrun her and she'd give up, but she still kept pace. We reached a bigger road and definitely worried about having her follow us any farther. We stopped at another farm house and John knocked on the door in hopes of finding someone home who could help get our new friend back home, but alas no one was home. John tried riding back in the direction we'd come, but as soon as he would turn around, so would the dog. Just as we were thinking we were going to have to name her (and take her home with us), a car rolled down the road toward us. Thinking this was such a small road, that anyone driving down it would know the dog's owners, John flagged them down. Luck would have it, they were the owners. Our new friend got scooped up into the car, and likely was scolded for running so far away.

Being herded along

We then pedaled up over a few more hills and stopped to take a few more photos, including one of the sign to Moneystown! Alas no pots of gold for us that day, just another lovely bicycle ride.

John's semi-practical dream home

John's not so practical dream home

One last climb...

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