Made it into Liscannor quite late and still with panniers (the theory was Teena and Trevor in the car would be passing at some stage and take our burdens, but they got sidetracked chasing dolpins. So we did our 120k, partly into the wind. Past the links course ($150 to play) to find a great house up on the headland. Decided not to cook so took the last renters' recommendation and went to a nearby pub. Absolutely sensational food, turns out it has numerous local awards and is in the Michelin guide and very reasonably priced.
Long days tend to tire you out so the next day was a 60k ramble through some of the local towns. Stopped off at the Cliffs of Moher which were crowded but very speccie. Weather still cool with periods of rain and still windy.
Next day the weather was awful so I managed to talk Ken and Glo into tagging along with Teen and Trev in the car. First stop was Ennis, busy little town which may have been the origin of the Breens. then further north to the Burren, a fairly desolate area of rock fields. Another fantastic pub lunch with a Guinness as well. Rare to find anything other than G or a couple of German beers on tap although Bulmers cider is usually available. Visited a cave in the afternoon and bought some fudge, not sure what the connection was between the two. Very acceptable fish and chips from the shop on the corner. The South African owner was lamenting the weather - said it had been disastrous for his trade.
Weather was marginally better the next day so we headed off on the bikes. Ennis seemed like a good town to have another look around (car parking was limited to 1hr yesterday). At Ennistimon we stopped to look at the impressive cascades tumbling through the middle of town. The abbey at Ennis was one of the better ruins, but still no sign of Breens! Ken shopped for something for his daughter Clare as the shops were full of County Clare items. Headed back to Liscannor on the back roads but didn't manage to find the right road and rode into the head wind back to the coast. The town of Milltown Malbey was back to its normal self after hosting the Willie Clancy music festival the week before - it was full to overflowing with people and musicians when we rode through on Sunday.
We decided that it was close enough to the 18th of July so had booked the restaurant to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Andy and Glo played themselves as did the best man and brides maid (Teena and Trevor) and Ken filled in for everyone else. And a great time was had by all.
Next day the cunning plan was to ride to Doolin, get a ferry to the Aran islands and then get a ferry up to Rossavear in Galway. Unfortunately the Rossavear ferry was not taking bikes any more after an engineer died somehow due to having a bike on board. . Plan B then was to ride around Innismor, ferry back to Doolin and then ride back to our lodgings at Liscannor, up a very long nasty hill that we thought that we had said goodbye to forever. On the way back Teen rang to say they had had a collision in the car and wasn't sure if it was driveable. In the event they got back to Liscannor just after us but would need to change the car at Shannon the next day.
Fortunately both Trev and Teen were ok.
There's a ride planned for tomorrow (Sunday) 9am from Lancefield. Give me a hoy if you can make it.
Andy has been in touch from Ireland reckons you guys should here about it...
In Kilkenny at the moment. Gets light very early so I have decided to sent some emails as the dawn chorus of gentle snores waft around the hotel room.
Weather has been very Irish. Soft rain, and a fair bit of it.
Siobhan met us at the airport and we found a very interesting singing/crying maxicab driver. Quite bizarre! Repairable damage to the bikes. Fine on arrival but soon started to rain as we looked for James Joyce, phone sims and something to eat. Dinner was 'home cooked' in the unit.
Wednesday was bus trip north to Tara (meeting place of Celtic kings) and Newgrange (oldest known manmade burial mound in all of the world - 5000+ years old. Very interesting history. No rain on the trip. Fish finger sandwiches for dinner. Yum o.
Thursday was lots more walking and even a free walking tour of Dublin, even stopping at the stature od Thomas Moore, poet and no relation. Ken managed to make contact with us and we found our airb&b apartment run by yet another eccentric Irishman. Another home cooked meal for Siobhan (who doesn't have to spell her name here!) Teen and Trev arrived on cue so we went for another walk, savouring the day light which only starts to dim after10.30.
Friday morning the cyclists went for an hour's spin around Pheonix Park then we all headed over to Trinity College to look at the book of Kells. In the rain again. You get used to it. Thursday was quite a nice day and Dublin was packed, tourists and locals filling the streets and shops.
It all happened on Saturday. Siobhan off to Nice early (experienced traveller that she is, she didn't need her parents to wake her up). We did walk her to the bus stop (not far) and wave her goodbye 'til France for me anyway.
Packed the bikes, bought a bike rack for the sag wagon which t&t picked up from the airport. Then we had no more excuses so just before midday we joined the Dublin cyclists and headed from the Wicklow mountains. Fortunately I couldn't find the route I wanted and we ended up skirting the Wicklows. It was still hilly enough for our loaded bikes. Lunch in the sun at Enisskerry before heading down to beautiful Glendalough and St Kevin's ruins. T&t had organised b&b accommodation. Post ride Guinness was the first one we had earned. Only 55k after our late. Lovely dinner in the mellow evening.
Ditched the panniers into the back up Megane and heads down for the day. Glo forced us to stop at Avoca at the yarn mill and for a look at the Ballykissangel set. Overcast with lots of soft rain. Used some very minor roads today and managed to stay on track but finished on the N10 into Kilkenny. Cars wait for us on the narrow roads, once again much better than back home. Made the hotel at 6.30 with 123k on the computer. Some short steep stuff on the secondary roads but otherwise undulating.
Will send the gear on to Glencar and ride unencumbered today as well.
This weeks mail…..
Kilkenny was a fascinating place, perfect little laneways and lots of very imposing churches for our after dinner stroll. Earlyish start in the morning with a couple of laps of the town to show Ken St Canice's church and then to find the way out. More soft rain made us wet for the morning. Lunch was toasties and hot choc in a pub in Urlingford. More rain meant no views all the way to the very impressive rock of Cashel, another old church/fort. Managed to work out how to fit the bike rack to the car and fit 3 bikes with racks without doing too much damage to anything and then it was off to the wilds of the Kerry mountains. Arrived at the foot of Ireland largest mountain around 8. Turned on heating and Ken lit the sodding fire to give us a bit more wamth.
Still ordinary weather the next morning so did some sightseeing with t&t as well as hitting the free wi-fi cafe and doing a bit of shopping for food. The house was so remote that our internet connection did not work. A guiness at the Glencar local was enough to encourage G and I to walk back with a few diversions along the way (dogs, pubs, very dark forests, tracks that did not go where they should have etc). Had to call for the rescue vehicle. Ken managed to get a few k's done on the bike.
Wednesday was the big one but we didn't realise it when we headed out past Lough Caragh. Lovely downhill to the Ring of Kerry. Stopped at a bike shop for a very grumpily delivery of a piece of cable outer. Another big lunch in a pub and then down to Valencia Island at the end of the Peninsula. Took the ferry to Knightsbridge then cruised around the slate quarries and various cliffs. Over the bridge to Portmagee and absentmindedly turned right instead of left. Great views of the cliffs, the Skellig islands and Puffin island. Turned right again for a monster climb which ended with us all walking up, and we didn't even have panniers! Back to the main road and a stop for a cup of sweet tea before the last 40k back home. We were not looking forward to this because we had already driven it and it looked bloody hard, and was. The pass was only 304m but we had come from sea level and had already ridden 100k's. Freezing cold on top after a reasonable Irish day. Celebrated with a G at the climbers inn. Then home to find Teena putting tea on the table.
Thursday provided shitty (that's Irish for wet-Steve) weather again for our planned trip to visit Liam's parents in Leap. The prospect of 80+k into a headwind over two passes made the choice easy. We would all take the car. Had a great lunch with John and Maureen, as well as afternoon tea and a tour of the local highlights.
Friday, we gave Teen andTrev a night on their own and we were back to the hard work of riding with the panniers. Early start meant that we did 40k in the rain to Tralee by midmorning for our toasties. Back roads were undulating to the ferry at Tarbert across the Shannon River. Ten more k to Buggles b&b in Kilrush - 100+k done by 4. Lots of hedgerows, off and on drizzle, no Australian drivers to be seen!
Early breakfast was at 8am so the weather had cleared by the time we rode out of town. Give the troops the choice of direct route (50k) or the route taking in Loop Head (100+k) and they decided on the later - couldn't say I didn't warn them. Wandered through various fishing villages, the closest pub to New York (Keating's) and back lanes to eventually get to the lighthouse at Loop Head. Celebrated with an apple and more back roads to Kilkee for a late lunch in a holiday town with the beach goers doing there best in what were fairly ordinary conditions. Top temp of maybe 18 in summer. Brrrrr.
Ride is on at 9am from Lancefield. Let me know if you can make it. Steve
What a week at Le Tour, far more crashes than I'd like to see, you really want to see the best man win not the most lucky or the least injured.
Cadel has really landed on his feet at BMC, you have to be impressed with the way the lads are looking after him and their tactics so far.
I'm a bit worried about the time Wiggins will make on our boy in the time trials but Cadel is still my pick to win.
I'm a bit bemused with the Lance Armstrong witch hunt, it's never been a secret that I reckon he's a bit of a god, and I'd be devastated if anything is ever proven to show him a cheat, but I'm keeping the faith.
Whats the go with this stuff the Dutch papers are saying? Assuming it is true, how is it that the fab four could only get a six month suspesion, which won't take effect till the off season for admitting to taking drugs ???
This shows how desperate the USADA is to get Armstrong, even if he is a drug cheat (did I say I think he isn't) it's a bit like giving Charles Manson an Indian arm burn in the hunt for Jack the ripper.
Anyway, there's a ride planned for the TDF friendly time of 9am from LANCEfield tomorrow. Let me know if you can make it.