Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ireland WETport

--Just a reminder for those seeing this in December or January, that I'm way behind with the blog and making every attempt to get caught up with these posts from our trip to Ireland. This is about a ride from November 1.--

All Saints Day in WETport and the Halloween trick is on us!

David had finished up his work in Bellmullet in County Mayo on  Friday and drove down to Westport to join us for a few days of cycling. As we discussed various route options and the weather, and the prospect of riding with or without gear, we decided to stay a second night in Westport, allowing us to do an unencumbered loop ride on Saturday, with some hope of drying out gear from the previous day.

At around 6AM on Saturday morning, we had an unexpected early morning wakeup call in the form of a naked man bursting into our room. Seems the locks on the doors at our hotel weren't very secure, and this fellow was able to just come charging in. A good scream from me caused him to look around and realize maybe he wasn't in the right room and he dashed back out. We came up with lots of theories as to why this fellow was running through the halls naked and bursting into rooms, but we'll never know.  

The forecast for the day was ... how can I best put it ... atrocious. But since we were there to ride our bikes, we decided to ride our bikes regardless. Besides, we had all this good rain gear and proper fenders, so we figured we might as well get some use out of them.

You've may have noticed that I've mentioned the weather in Ireland a few times in my recent posts. Most people picture Ireland as this lush green place with lots of rain, and if you've just recently tuned in... well... I've done nothing to dispel that notion. We had a lot of wet weather on this trip. But let me just assure you that it isn't always damp and drizzling in Ireland. Because sometimes you get proper rain!

Looking back at the upload for the day, I see that it must have been very rainy on this particular day as I named the ride, "Wetport to LochWet to FjordWet to SheefryWet to Wetport." It seems the weather left a real impression on me that day.

As we were planning our ride for the day, we consulted David. In the last few years, he has been spending a lot of time working and cycling on the west coast and now knows the area really well. So for this ride, we just let him plot out a route that would take in a few familiar-to-him roads.

However, he didn't let on that he hadn't actually ridden all the roads on the route he mapped out, until we were winching ourselves up and over the first ridiculously steep climb into the Partry Mountains.

At least we had a cooling breeze so we didn't overheat on the climb. In fact, the wind was so strong it was practically visible, as you could see the sheets of rain coming in sideways. I'm sure there was a lovely view on top of that first climb, but we were so cold that we didn't hang around for the clouds to clear and expose it (it likely won't clear again until the spring).

By the time we descended to the shores of Loch Mask, my hands were numb. Fortunately we quickly turned away from the lake and began another climb to warm us back up! Sadly, that climb was followed by another bone-chilling descent. You know it's wicked raw, when I start a sentence about a descent with the word, sadly!

It seems that thanks to all the climbing I had included on our routes when David was in the US last summer that he thinks I must actually like to climb. Based on this flawed assumption, he devised a vicious route with nothing but climbing (except, of course, when I was so cold that I wanted to climb - then we descendied (sic)).  Oh and despite the fact that it was a loop, it also seemed we were always heading into the wind!

We had a goal of lunch in Leenaun, but at some point, based on conflicting mileage on signs, I began to wonder if Leenaun was actually a moving target. Shortly before descending down to the village, the deity in charge of our weather that day took a deep breath. It stopped rainy briefly and gave me a false hope. But just minutes away from lunch, as if re-energized by the short respite, the rain and wind returned with fury. When we reached the village, we were drenched and chilled and, to top it off, the café we were aiming for was closed. Looking around, we found a bar, but instead of going for the sure thing, we decided to press on to the Delphi Adventure Resort a few miles up the road. I had noticed this place the day before and thought if we rode a little farther, we'd at least be able to warm up (yes, we had to climb to get there) and maybe dry out some on the way.

Proper equipment for the day at hand.

Luckily for me the Wild Atlantic Café was actually open when we arrived, so the other two hungry cyclists didn't have the moral dilemma of wo-manslaughter and cannibalism. However we just had time to order our soup and coffee before they closed the dining room for a private party. I can only imagine that had they gone the cannibalistic route, David and John would have been sorely disappointed with the lack of meat on my bones!

Warmer and dryer after our soup and coffee in Delphi, we pressed on to following the bike route signs up the Sheefry pass and then made our way back into Westport shortly after daylight faded.

The Bundoragha river, en route to Delphi.

We had a superb meal at The Everest, a Nepalese and Indian restaurant, before collapsing into bed.

But sleep was not to be had. At around 11PM, the thump, thump, thump from the disco below our room, suddenly cranked up and I practically leapt out of bed. The party continued until 2AM. I went down to the lobby to ask about the noise and possibly moving to a quieter room. The response was to say I should have been warned about the party, there were no other rooms,  but they would take care of us in the morning. They handed me 2 sets of earplugs for the three of us. Apparently they had already given out all the others they had.

The next morning when I complained I was again asked if I hadn't been warned. I don't quite get businesses who provide a place to sleep but don't get that some of their guests might appreciate peace and quiet. If you are looking for a place to sleep in Westport, skip the Mill Times. Go there for the party. Sleep somewhere else.

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