It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.

--Ernest Hemingway

The Plan

I am not a 'touring cyclist' - not that there's anything wrong with touring cyclists. I consider myself to be a 'roadie'--if it can't fit into a jersey pocket, then it doesn't come along for the ride. So when you picture me biking in Ireland don't think about panniers and saddle bags and back packs. There will be no tents, sleeping bags nor camp stoves anywhere near my bike.

The plan is to rent a car so that I can drive about the island and ride in much the same way that I would at home. If all goes according to the vision, my life over the next 14 days will fall into the following routine: drive to an area, ride, hike, eat massive amounts of food, drink Guinness (amounts may vary), sleep, repeat.

The idea for this trip is to be fairly flexible; it'll be a bit by the seat of my bib shorts. Here's the best I can do for an itinerary:

> Fly into Dublin on Aug 13
> Connemara (northwest of Galway)
>Inishmore (the largest of the Aran Islands)
>The Burren and the fabled Cliffs of Moher
>The Dingle Peninsula
>The Iveragh Peninsula (Ring of Kerry)
>The Beara Peninsula
>Fly out of Dublin on Aug 28

I've perhaps saved the BEST FOR LAST! From Aug 21-23, I'll be following the three-day Tour of Ireland. I'll watch Stage 1 on the Category One Mount Leinster climb, take in Stage 2 on The Vee, a Cat. 2 climb and watch the last stage in Cork which finishes with a with three-loop city street circuit including the 23% gradient climb of St. Patrick's Hill.

Oh, almost forgot to mention that seven-time Tour de France Champ LANCE ARMSTRONG and 10-time TdeF stage winner MARK CAVENDISH will be riding the Tour of Ireland. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

So come back to this little blog often to read about my adventures with my bike on the Emerald Isle. And please, if you're reading this stuff, leave me a comment; it's nice to know that people are out there checking this stuff out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

County Clare Part 2

BoldScroll down to the next post for Part 1 of this epic story

...later that same day...

The Cliffs of Moher


Arguable, Ireland's biggest attraction; and it showed. My hostel was only about a 10 minute drive from the cliffs, and thinking that I'd want to walk around some, I decided to leave the bike in the car and drive. Too bad, it would have been a killer climb. However, it WAS a killer hike.

It didn't start out that way though. At first, I was quite disappointed. The cliffs are huge, don't get me wrong, but they were closely guarded by barriers - you can only approach so close - and after the pure adrenaline of yesterday's trip to Dun Aengus, where you could literally walk right up, this felt too confining. I know, I know, safety first, but really, people can take care of themselves - this is not conservative Canada, it's Europe for chrissakes. And of course, later in the pub, I met the Baby Boomer crowd who'd been there 25 years ago and none of that infrastructure existed. Yeah, and they probably live in a mansion overlooking the sea that they bought for 15 grand back in the sixties as well. That's another rant that many of you probably have already heard.

Lame!

Just when it was looking like my trip to the Cliffs of Moher was going to be a 20 minute tire kick, I came across this:

Now we're gettin' somewhere

and I was off. I went into Forrest Gump mode - I walked, and I walked and I walked; I walked clear out to the end of that fine piece of God's land, and when I got to the end...I just turned around and walk on back. I walked along those cliffs never further away then 6 feet from the edge, and usually much much much closer, as the sun was setting over the North Atlantic for two and a half hours (we easterners don't get to see the sun set over the ocean, remember). I was battling my obsessive self that you all know exists. You see there is a ruined tower at the end of the point (O'Brien's Tower, I think), and at first I was just walking 'for a while', then I just couldn't stop until I got there. And so, I didn't. As I continued further and further away from the 'tourist trap', the numbers of people dwindled to the very few (only three, that day) who made it to the end.

You can just make out O'Brein Tower on the point


Self-timer gone wrong, but a cool shot nonetheless


Now you can see O'Brein Tower

On the way back from this epic hike, I was pressed for time (as always). There was more to be had from this day of vacation, and I aimed to squeeze the last drop. The goal was to make the kitchen close at Gus O'Connor's Pub back in Doolin and a decent hail mary from the hostel. And make it I did (sorry, I can't stop the Forrest Gump thing). Hunger was beyond. I ordered a Beef and Guinness stew with brown bread, and well, a Guinness. Oh My God. Good? One of the best things I've ever eaten - ever. Doolin in County Clare, by the way, is apparently the best place in all of Ireland to go for real traditional music in the pubs. This is a place were the music is played by old timers, and other locals will 'sit-in', there's no "And everybody sing", and "Farewell to Nova Scotia". In fact, there's no singing whatsoever, the boys play, and they are just a part of the place - not necessarily the focus of attention. The bartender told me that it's not rare to have tree guys (typo intended) start off and have 15 others sit in. As it was on this night, only one other joined the original tree. Good times. I thought the best way to capture the whole vibe was to capture the whole vibe. Check the vid; it tells the story.


video
Push play and follow me into Gus O'Connor's Pub in Doolin, County Clare

Well, here I sit in the Grapevine Hostel in Dingle, unsure of the weather that's about to pound down on me. I'm here for tonight and tomorrow night before leaving for New Ross and Stage 1 of the Tour of Ireland. I'm planning to watch the stage atop the day's highest climb--the First Category Mount Leinster. Of course, the plan is to drive to the base of the climb and attempt it on my bike. The peloton is scheduled to arrive at 12:28 local time, or 8:28 Atlantic. In case I don't get online between now and then, check out the following site for online viewing options (Eurosport is often good - Rod, if you find a decent feed, put a link to it in a comment the morning of the stage) and then be there (online) at 8:28 Atlantic Daylight Savings Time and see if you can see me.

http://cyclingfans.com/

I think I'll plan on wearing my yellow jersey that day, unless it's torrential (maybe even if it is though), so look for me.

Housekeeping:

  • Joff has won the second Blarney Biker Contest. Yeh Relic! Where's the other person who should be piping up with the answer - come on, identify yourself to our readers.
  • Selena, they (Joff and Kirk and other future contest winners) will get Blarney Biker Schwagg otherwise known as some tacky trinket that I cart back home - I'll figure something out. But don't worry, you'll still get something even if you don't win a contest :) But definitely keep trying.

So, we need a contest...hmm...what year did Guinness start brewing his famous stout, and what was his first name? As always, previous winners (Joff and Kirk - and Kirk I could just see you reaching for the mouse and being off to wikipedia or google :)) are not allowed to win again. Sorry.

Well that's all for now. Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

Shane
PS For those inclined to worry about me around cliffs, be at easy as I think that's if for cliffs on
the trip :)

7 comments:

  1. Jane finally sent me the link! By the way, guinness was first brewed in 1759.... have a great trip! enjoying the pics!!!!

    Aaron

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  2. Whadaya mean. . .finally?!

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  3. Hahaha...you know me to well:)

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  4. Alrite. You,ve done a lot since we met you this day last week. Being checking your blog everyday. Keep on having fun and ure photos look great. Pity about our shite weather. Anyways enjoy your last 10 days. We,ll be keeping an eye on ya. Take care.
    Eddy & Selina (Tullamore).

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  5. Right on Eddy and Selina! Great to hear from you. Thanks for checking out my blog.

    Peace.
    I'm off for a pint.

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  6. Greetings Shane from your Beatnik watcher. Making me thirsty with all that Guiness (not to mention all the hot weather here!!!). Music vids are fun even if there is an stray Newfie. Great scenery shots; amazing white sand beaches in all that black rock. Like the rocks.

    Gregg

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  7. Quiz: Arthur be the first name and Guinness was established in 1759 (in the fine town of Leixlip). To be honest I hate the stuff it takes like tar.

    If you can get a snap shot of Lance that'd be a good reward!

    Don't forget your antlers when your watching the race.

    Cliff

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Thanks for commenting!