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.

Saturday, August 22, 2009



Well, can you stand to look at a few more pics and read a couple more tales from the Emerald Isle.? Warning - I seem to have a fast connection here so the pics are uploading quickly (that means there'll be plenty to see).

I set out (by car) from County Clare bound for the Dingle Peninsula on Tuesday (it's been a while since my last true update - plenty to catch up on). It was about a 4 hour drive having caught a Ferry over the River Shannon. The ride plan was simple - Connor Pass and Slea Drive (a long coastal road out around the extreme western end of the peninsula (and Europe incidentally)). Seemed pretty basic, but this was my first real challenge from the fickle Irish weather.

Wednesday morning I woke up to rain - heavy rain - they were calling (not that anyone around here puts any stock in a forecast - they just know they'll get a little bit of everything each day, and whatever the weatherman says will not be all true) for localized flooding if you can believe it. Now when I came to this country, I knew that I would spend some wet time in the saddle - if riding in the rain was going to be a big problem, I would have went elsewhere - Spain for instance. So, a bit leary, I set off on Wednesday morning for the summit of Connor Pass. This was a climb used during last year's Tour of Ireland, so I was quite stoked to give it a go. Probably 50% of road riding on this trip is about scenery and the other 50% is about the challenge of the road. On this day, I had to settle for the latter only. Check the view out from the summit of Connor Pass - a happier rider there never was, but there wasn't much to look at.

Summit of Connor Pass - 456m

It took about 30 mins to get to the top and a chilly 8 mins to get back down to Dingle. Despite the fact that it really only made for a 15-20k day, I decided to call it good at that for the day and hope for better conditions tomorrow for the Slea Head ride. It would have to be an early morning as the plan was to drive to New Ross on Thursday for Stage 1 of the Tour of Ireland.

Well an early morning it was, but the rains kept a comin'. It took some doin', but I got myself psyched and suited up and headed off into the fog and rain and gloom that only the western extremity of the continent of Europe can throw at you. Slea Head here I come.

With a questioning mind (what the hell am I really doing out here?) I took in the wet but thankfully visible scenery. It was a 55k loop clockwise from Dingle proper in just over 2 hours. Here are the highlights:

I can't tire of roads like this...

...and this...

despite having to dismount from time to time to negotiate
on foot the odd river across the road.

Just awesome!

Since leaving Dingle on Thursday after the Slea Head Ride, I've been to New Ross (you've already read about the scary farm hostel), Mount Leinster for Stage 1 of the Tour of Ireland (ToI), Kilkenny (day trip - awesome place!), the Galtee Mountains (another questionable hostel that was gas lit up until one week ago; they were reluctantly installing electricity due to health and safety complaints), The Vee for Stage 2 of the ToI, and (a rip-roarin' drive after The Vee to) Fermoy for another bonus viewing of the peloton during Stage 2. Now? I'm in the southern Cork City awaiting the 3rd and final stage of the short Tour. My next post will bring you the story of the Tour and Kilkenny; look for it over the next couple of days (I think I'll take advantage of this awesome connection to get the pics up). From Cork, I'm thinking about moving back west to either the Beara Peninsula or Killarney/Ring of Kerry, or both. And that's the decision that I must make once this gets published.

Thanks for reading. The outcome of the last BBB (Blarney Biker Blog) Contest is that congrats are due to multi-sport athlete Cliff Warden-Rogers (check Cliff out at - probably my first inspiration to the world of blogging) for knowing that Guinness was first brewed in 1759 by Arthur Guinness. Honorable mention goes to Aaron (sorry Aaron, we needed the year and first name). Cliff gets BBB schwagg upon my return.

Next contest? Hmm. For you internet searching savvy folks, what two teams are set to play in the All Irish Hurling final one week from tomorrow in Dublin? (I'd be able to see this game, on TV in a pub if nothing else, were it not for the fact that it's like the superbowl in that they take an extra week off between the semi- and final games - damn.)

Thanks again.

PS Everyone say a little prayer for the little Kirby named Beatnik about to ride out Hurricane Bill with her owner an ocean away. Godspeed Beatnik, Gregg Little, and everybody around the Bay.

PSS Why are there so many pubs in Ireland? Because the weather drives you back inside. There were pubs and good trad music in Dingle, like these two guys in O'Flarety's.

This just in! I'm in this pic on Velo News' site - my car is the second from the right and I'm a blip of color in there somewhere.


  1. And the two teams are.... ah we'd just be cheating Shane. Glad your enjoying our great weather , now you know why we're a nation of drinkers. Keep having fun. Eddy & Selina.

  2. Hi ya, would just like to say best of luck in the remainder of your trip. I am part of the gang that you met up in the vee this morning. Sportif Waterford CC.

    Glad you are enjoying your trip up to now


  3. Hi there, like Leonard above I'm part of Sportive Waterford CC that cycled with you up the Vee with you this morning,it was nice to mmet you, check out our blogspot above, let us know if your in the Waterford City area and maybe someone could join you for a local spin.

    Brendan H, SWCC.

  4. Because I can...

    "Dublin's Eoin Kennedy recorded an emphatic win over Cavan's Michael Finnegan in the All-Ireland Senior Singles Semi-Final at Croke Park on Saturday."


  5. Ooops, maybe I can't. One week from tomorrow... looks like I'm not so smart after all.


  6. Me again! I think it's Cork vs. Kilkenny, but as above, I'm known to be wrong.

    (Oh and lovin' the pics and thinking good thoughts for the kirby)


  7. I talked to Ron and we can adding Hurling to the Canada Games next time around....try to go if you can. People say it is really cool to watch. NS lost by 1 point...SILVER it is. It was a great game with the come back in the 3rd quarter. Athletics has arrived! I will be very busy this week, very busy. Have fun in Stage 3.

  8. All I can say is "WOW" very impressive . I'm also part of the crowd who met you on the Vee. Looks like you got a lot in on your travels well done. Thats whats its about all man "riding the bike". --Swcc

  9. Well, the current contest is still open - we are without a winner despite the IWOM's persistence. Hint: She has one team correct - Kilkenny. Now who's the other team? (PS, Yes, this contest should be closed to all of my new Irish friends).

    The the Waterford boys: How great to see your comments on my blog. It really was great to ride the Vee with you all (I may have mentioned that my motivation was rather poor that morning, and it was you guys who kicked me in the butt - thanks, I need that.

    Eddy and Selina, thanks for your continued commenting - so cool to know you're out there with an eye on the Blarney Biker :)

    Selena (with and e) - 1 feckin' point? Damn that must have been cool to watch. Congrats to our young Marcus D. and his teamates on an amazing Silver medal. Miss you.

  10. Hi there,
    Paul here from Comber which is just outside Belfast,i met you on Mt Leinster and watched the stage with you!Hope you didn't get too wet in Cork today,i just watched the coverage on tv and it looked real miserable.On the plus side we got ourselves on tv when they went up Mt Leinster (your yellow jersey helped me see us ;-). Hope you enjoyed your tour in Ireland and if you wish you can contact me on Facebook(paul mcminn) or Twitter(whatsacurran). Cheers Paul

  11. Well, if I was allowed to participate in this... you know the contest would be over :)

  12. I can tell you who will be reffing in the All Irish Hurling final...Diarmuid Kirwan

  13. Shane, sounds like fun is continuing so nice to meet the "locals". Bill has been a blip in New Brunswick, but the wind has picked up now, no worst than any nor'easter, not as bad actually, yet.

    News in Business section of the paper. Mario has been chosen from 77,000 employees for excellence in teamwork and customer service. He will be working at one of the 3 onsite McDonald's in Vancouver and Whistler. All expenses paid and also able to attend Olympic event and sightsee etc. Pretty fantastic. I called him and congratulated him. Keep riding safe. Enjoy!! Love Mom and Dad


Thanks for commenting!