Cycling trip 2013

Ireland trip – a short summary

Total distance:  km ( miles)
Total time:  hrs
Avg speed for the trip:  km/h
Avg dist per day: km ( miles)

  • Equipment: bike – Ridgeback – Velocity taken care by Moore’s Cycles guys in Twickenham, with Specialised Avatar Geometry saddle – here.
  • Back panniers – Altura – Dryline – they are waterproof – tested. Couple of Specialised cycling bibs, 2 cycling shirts, Chamois cream – Butt’r and Ozon – both great. One winter and one summer cycling jersey. Clothes change – one shirt and one pair of 3/4 trousers that I could use in the evening after the cycling. Leg warmers. Waterproofs – jacket. Sunblock – SPF 30
  • Camping tent – Terra Nova Voyager Superlite – here, Therm-A-Rest Prolite Plus mattress – here, Eris 250 Sleeping Bag by Gelert – here,
  • Nokia N9 – fantastic navigation through more difficult moments, photos and blogging. Absolutely great! (Orange France – pay as you go card – got internet connection following these instruction from internet – have to add French sales men in Orange shops didn’t know about the internet max option for pay as you go cards)
  • Fujifilm EXR 770 and Nokia N9 – photography

Day 1 18/07/2013

Twickenham – London Euston – Holyhead – Dublin – Blessington

Route map

Dist: 59km
Time: 3.25
Avg speed: 17.3 km/h
Max speed: 35.8 km/h
Tot time: 3.25
Tot dist: 59 km

Day full of surprises and emotions and … There must have been a hill involved. I cycled to London Euston in the morning. This year started early so I wouldn’t make the same mistake as couple of years ago when going to Edinburgh was late.

Coffee - always a great start to the trip

Coffee – always a great start to the trip

As it should be the train was late to Holyhead. On the other hand the ferry port is on the other side of the train station. Had to get the ticket for the bike on the ferry. A tenner it was.

I met an Irish guy when loading bike on the train. He was coming for a short ride and family visit and then taking ferry to France. Met the guy in the cue and then on the ferry. It turned out that Damian is an FE teacher. :-D . Plumbing was the subject and was teaching at the Adult College in Lewisham.

Had a moan – just a little one about work and then spent some time chatting about bike trips. He was getting ready for his first one.

Cycling out off Dublin took longer than I expected. I was on the N81 about 18.30 on the outskirts of the town. Getting used to the traffic and drivers took a while. Then I realised that there are bus or cycling lines on the road and drivers are not much crazier from ones in London.

My friend Renek was waiting for me on the uphill close by Tallagh. It was great to see a good friend from our childhood and teenage years back in Poland. After hugs and kisses Renek took my panniers into his car and let me continue uphill. It was a great ride. Uphill finished about 12 km from Blessington. What a great views. Then I rushed to Blessington. The route was relatively flat so I could ride a bit faster. It felt good.

In Blessington Dorota had the table set up and soon we started reminiscing good childhood. The rhythm of conversation slowed down a bit after a few units of Polish vodka and Irish whiskey.

Day 2 Blessington

A bit of a headache in the morning and I was very thirsty. I wonder why? We went with Renek for a walk around the town/village. It was nice and hot out there. We went to visit one of his daughters – Ines and grandson Wiktor.

All the time catching up about past 20 odd years. When Dorota i Agnieszka (another daughter) came back home we went for a drive to the lake and for a fish and chips but the pub was closed. Came back home and had a very relaxing evening.

Day 3 Blessington

Breakfast and planning day’s activities. We had a very ice day out around Wicklow county. Apparently it was my fault that all of the tourist attractions were shut. We went to see a castle south from Blessington – no way. And few other attractions were as shut as the castle. Afterwards we had a very nice roast beef at Murphy’s. Then we came back home and I started planning my day of cycling tomorrow. Weather should be fine and there is nearly 25 km of an uphill ride. Or at least so it seams.

New adventure continues tomorrow..

Day 4 21/07/2013

Blessington – Valleymount – Wicklow Gap (470 mtrs) – Rathdrum – Arklow – Gorey – Enniscorthy

Route map

Dist: 114.24km
Time: 6.17
Avg speed: 18.5 km/h
Max speed: 45.9 km/h
Tot time: 9.43
Tot dist: 173 km

After beautiful few days in Blessington it was time to set up the bike and sail away. Yesterday I decided that I would go towards the coast through Wicklow mountains.

I set off at 7.40 after a short breakfast and a coffee. I was kind of ready to go. I knew there will be a bit of Yves uphill during the first 25 km till Wicklow Gap.

I haven’t prepared for the trip this year in physical terms. Couple of injuries kept me out off the longer distance trips. So I didn’t know how my legs and body were going to react to a tougher run.

The route to Wicklow Gap went through some of the most beautiful landscapes. I stopped several times to take picture or just enjoy the moment.

 

It was sunny I the morning but I could see some heavy clouds on top of the hills. By 9.30 I was on top of the hill enjoying the view. Then there was a downhill – it was great for moments. Some other moments I had to slam on my breaks as there were so many potholes on the road.

Saw a few cyclists on my way but just down in Laragh there was a race going on. Man – these girls and guys were flying. Yet, some of them said hello. One of them had a puncture so I stopped and offered help. But he was absolutely fine and well prepared. Was done in no time. I think I cycled between them somewhere close to Meeting of the Waters where they had to turn. One of the guys said Oh hello again. Really nice some of them. At the turn I got a big cheer from organisers that were directing the traffic and I went on my way after a few jokes.

Then I stopped in Gorey to check the route and one lady stopped by to ask if I was lost. I told her I was going towards Waxford but probably wouldn’t cycle there today. She explained all of the possible routes and which will give me better options for a night rest.

Following her advise I took the route to Enniscarthy. Found a nice hotel, had a shower, washed my stuff and now sitting by the riverside enjoying fresh air. Got to find somewhere to eat.

Feel a bit tired and I tried not to push the rhythm too much. Knees hurt a bit but we will see the real state of my legs after the recovery and a night’s sleep.

Nice pint and a steak sandwich with chips for supper. Ready for bed. I think.

Day 5 22/07/2013

Enniscorthy – New Ross – Waterford – Kill – Ballylanen – Kilmacthomas – Dungarvan

Route map

Dist: 111.83 km
Time: 6.23
Avg speed: 17.4 km/h
Max speed: 44.4 km/h
Tot time: 16.07
Tot dist: 285 km

Started the ride much later this morning. Breakfast was served from 8 so had a bit more of chill out this morning. Traditional Irish breakfast.

Was out by 8.50. Yesterday whilst walking around the town I noticed a cycling path to Wexford. So I went to explore it this morning. Went through what I thought was the path. Met few Irishmen going to work and they explained that it was better to go on the main road. Defying local knowledge I went to search for the path. Cycled on an alternative road few km and found the path – just to realise that it was totally overgrown mountain bike. And this would have problems getting through the greenery.

Well, I said. It is the time to go on the alternative route and go to New Ross.

The sky was very overcast today, it was warm and really sticky and soggy. I haven’t got a slightest idea how many liters of water I managed to drip on the road. The humidity was so overwhelming that I had to get couple of those energy/isotonic drinks to get me going.

If I thought cycling in Ireland would be easier.? It was like being between Shropshire, Scotland and parts of the hilly France.

Beautiful views all the way. I stopped several times to get some water and had a short break. Went through Waterford with no problems. Loads of traffic slowed me down a bit.

After Waterford I wanted to get to the alternative routine to Dungarvan. All was well till Kill. There I missed or there was not a road sign. I just went straight through. Then I took another wrong turn and found myself cycling North. My compass. Great friend. Quick check on the map. I realised that I was close to the main road N25. Decided to follow this as I was getting very tired. Uphills lasted till eve mark Dungarvan – 6 km. I just sat down and enjoyed the downhill to town centre.

Another hotel today. Will enjoy some nice fish or so this evening.

Cork – 75 km away. Then ?

Day 6 23/07/2013

Dungarvan – Youghal – Midleton – Cork – Bandon

Route map

Dist: 108.17 km
Time: 6.02
Avg speed: 17.8km/h
Max speed: 41.8 km/h
Tot time: 22.10
Tot dist: 393 km

Waterproofs out and on.

After few sprays yesterday I did get the measure of Irish weather.

Start a bit late. I was down for breakfast at 7 but all was served rather calmly. So, after the morning shower I set off at 8.30 or there about.

Went out of Dungarvan took a picture of a beautiful bay and it was time to face first of the long hills of the day. I think it run for about 7 km. I think I had 4 of them today. One after crossing through the major Towns. It was quite a challenging run. Then towards the first downhill I had the first major shower. I think it lasted 20 min maybe 1/2 an hour. Then after a few minutes sun came out. And it was like this all day. Bit of rain – bit of sun. Good thing I brought nice waterproof jacket. Light and rather water repellent.

Some really beautiful places around Youghal and Cobh. Then the landscape changed to the lush green after Inishannon. It reminded me a lot the one I saw in Scotland around Oban.

Went though some charming little villages. Kileagh and Castlemartyr – I remembered well.

A bit of a rush going through Cork. I didn’t find it cycle friendly. I was out as soon as I saw the next direction. It was either Kinsale or Bandon.

Just now spoke with one Irishman. He was from Kinsale and told me that the ride would gave been beautiful. Then told me that the one I took wasn’t bad either. We had a little chat about my trip and he called me: Crazy Polishman with a beautiful Irish accent. I think I’m for a treat tomorrow going to Skibbereen and then towards North.

Day 7 24/07/2013

Bandon – Clonakilty – Skibbereen – Ballydehob – Bantry – Glengarriff

Route map

Dist: 105 km
Time: 6.20
Avg speed: 16.6 km/h
Max speed: 44.8 km/h
Tot time: 28.30
Tot dist: 498 km

Water started pouring down around 3am. I got up at 7 and it was raining. Finished full Irish breakfast. And it was raining. Got ready and it was raining. Started riding and it was raining. It stopped for a bit around 11.

I think the rain has dampened or dumpened my spirit this morning. I couldn’t find anything inspiring or interesting on my way. I was going very slowly, rain was getting everywhere, it was uphill most of the time AD well.

I passed through Clonakilty still uninspired. Rain was coming down and the town didn’t look too sunny.

Somewhere between Clonakilty and Ross Carbery rain stopped for a few minutes. It started raining again just before Ross Carbery.

Suddenly at passing through this little town I felt the spirit being uplifted. Beautiful place with fantastic views. From then on I was for a treat. It wasn’t easy but landscapes started changing morphing from coastal to jungle to high mountain. It took me much longer to get through the day as I was trying to take some pics in pouring rain or at least stop for few seconds to get the view for my enjoyment.

At the start of the day I saw roadsign that was indicating I had about 90 km on the route I was taking to Bantry. And at some point I was so tired I though it would be difficult to get even there.

At passing through Skibbereen I felt a bit stronger but still thinking of end to the day in Bantry.

Then I got to Ballydehob. The view was fantastic and even the rain and the wind wouldn’t get to me.

As I turned North there was a roadsign saying Bantry 17 and Glengarriff 35. I thought – oh there is an option here.

As I turned right I hit a massive hill. Steep and going for about 4 km. It was hard work but I got there. Then, after admiring the view I went down to Bantry. Very nice place but I just wasn’t into the posh set up for tourists.

Without thinking I took off and did extra 17 km. Was I for a surprise! What a beauty was developing in front of my eyes. Going around the Bantry Bay was just one surprise after another.

Stopped at B&B in Glengarriff. Loads of people walking here. Few cyclists but mainly looks like a centre for backpackers. Nice atmosphere.

Massive plate of pork chops in front of me. I just can’trefuse this call.

Day 8 25/07/2013

Glengarriff – Relagh Bridge – Kenmare – Moll’s Gap – Killarney – Farmer’s Bridge – Tralee

Route map

Dist: 93 km
Time: 6.03
Avg speed: 16.6 km/h
Max speed: 46.9 km/h
Tot time: 34.33
Tot dist: 591 km

Relatively early start to cycling. Had breakfast in my room and was off at 8.20.

Ireland 065

Little downhill and then the climbing started. Met one cyclist on the first part. Told me I was in for a tough ride but it will be beautiful. He cycled with me for a while. We had a chat about my trip and his and then I let him go. Couldn’t keep up with him with my panniers. So we said good trip and I was left behind.

The first ascent about 12 km. Not sure what the pass is called. It could be Relagh Bridge. After going through a tunnel I stopped for a picture and I could swear Sandra Bullock was there taking pictures. If it wasn’t – I spoke to her double.

I stopped few times on the way up to take photos. Some parts were quite steep.

The descent was pretty relaxed, without very steep gradients. I got to Kenmare – a nice place. Didn’t spent much time there. And started going up again.

The slope was rather nice and only a few times the gradient became a bit steeper. On the whole much mellower than the first one.

On Moll’s Gap – met a few buses and cars that I would meet all the way down as I was stopping to admire views and take a more pics.

From the top of the hill the view was beautiful but nothing like when I got to Killarney National Park. Some astonishing places and views. I couldn’t believe – all changes through the day. The second ascent was about 10 km long as well.

The way down was – as some commentators of Tour de France would say – technical. Loads of sharp curves. Thanks God the gradient wasn’t very steep.

After the descent to Killarney I had a choice of 3 routes to Tralee. I chose the one that looked straight and right in the middle. I kind of suspected that it might not be the easiest. These straight routes hardly ever are easy. But I took a gamble. Gosh. First few km weren’t too bad and I was really pleasantly surprised, when I saw the wall in front of me. Maybe 7 km of really hard uphill. The first 2 were definitely a preparation for this one.

Somehow I managed to get up this one as well but decided I had enough. And stopped in Tralee.

Weather – great first 60 km then it went totally mad. It was like the icon on mobile when they don’t know what is going to happen. There were clouds, but the sun was shining through and it was pouring down with rain. Now I know it is possible to have all at once.

Staying at nice B&B. Everything washed and hopefully will dry by tomorrow. Honesty – what a great day.

In the second ascent there was a group of bikers coming from the front. They started clapping when passing by me.

Day 9 26/07/2013

Tralee – Listowel – Tarbert – Kilimar – Labasheeda – Kiladysart – Ennis – Gort

Route map

Dist: 130 km
Time: 6.32
Avg speed: 19.8 km/h
Max speed: 48.4 km/h
Tot time: 41.08
Tot dist: 721 km

What a great night sleep. Previous night the room looked ok but I woke up worn quite a few bites. And I thought I was alone in bed.

Last night the B&B was nhst great. Everything really fresh smell. Comfy bed and I was away. As the breakfast wouldn’t start till 8 I had a bit of snooze time. Traditional Full Irish and I was off at 9.20.

Slow uphill start. About 7 km but not very steep. From the top of the hill I had a nice ride to Listowel and then a quick section to Tarbert. I had by this point done 50 km. 20 min or so on ferry plus few minutes waiting gave me a bit of recovery.

On the ferry I had a look at the map and chosen to cycle on the side of river Shannon. It turned out to be a route with some fantastic views. I had a panoramicpicture for 20 km. Ride was tough at times with short and steep uphills. The surface of the road going from bearable to scary at times.

Then after a nice bend on the map just before Ballynacally – the downhill started. Till that point I thought I will set the camp in Ennis. It was around 100 km mark.

But, suddenly I was going on relatively flat and rather nice road. I picked up the speed and was in Ennis by 15.30 or so. I looked around the place, didn’t like it too much and decided to take a gamble on the road and follow through to Gort. Extra 30 km.

It was such a nice road, not very busy as the motorway goes nearby.

First 100km to Ennis very sunny, hardly any cloud.

The route to Gort came with rain, but even the rain couldn’t disturb the beauty of the ride. I felt that it will be a great relationship and went for it. Oh, the joy of speed. I had enjoyed the mountains but I was hungry for a bit of stretch and speed. I did the last 30 km in hour and 10 or so minutes. It wasn’t flat but the uphills were just long enough to go through with a bit of momentum. Great road for bikes. Met a few cyclists going for a ride and with reason.

In Gort came to Hotel O’Sullivan. The owner very likeable person introduced me to couple of locals and I have been stopped on the street for a chat.

Irish do like chatting. I found people here so friendly. Everybody talks to everybody which goes so against my introverted personality. ;-) And it is genuine and healthy interest in developing interpersonal relationships.

Gort – massive Brazilian community. There was a meat factory and the owner brought workforce from Brasil. Few years later factory closed and apparently hundreds of people lost their jobs.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/08/europe_brazilians_in_ireland/html/1.stm

Day 10 27/07/2013

Gort – Galway – Oughterard – Maam Cross – Leenane – Westport

Route map

Dist: 138 km
Time: 6.50
Avg speed: 20 km/h
Max speed: 48.8 km/h
Tot time: 47.56
Tot dist: 859 km

Start to the day rather slow. Woke up at 7.30 and then prepared things for the road. After breakfast I was off at 9.00. The route today was relatively flat – totally unexpected. I was getting into some high hills but the road went in between these picks. Really great. The only problem was the surface of the road. Really bad for moments.

All the way fantastic views – breathtaking. Few uphills but nothing really major.

There was a great moment though. Suddenly – out of nowhere the road was smooth and some really nicely profiled curves. About 1.5 km of sensational cycling. It was just before An Mam Maum.

I got to Leenane – had 100 km done. It was 3pm and I wanted a bit more of cycling. The only option I saw was going to Westport.

Additional 30 km or so.

As I was cycling there were loads and loads of cars overtaking me. Caravans – as well. I felt like cycling in the south if France.

Well it turned out that all of these cars, caravans, buses, vans etc. were coming to Westport.

Tomorrow is the biggest annual event. Climbing of the Croagh Patrick.

No rooms in the whole of the town. In one of the hotels the guy told me that if I would get the room I would probably pay 150 – 200 euros. It is the most expensive night to come to Westport.

I was thinking on the road today that I’m carrying 2.5 kg of camping stuff that I am probably not going to use.

Well, I am sitting in café on the campsite. Had to pitch the tent with a bit of shower but … never go for a cycling trip without a tent.

I set up the rent in between all ambulance services. The guys told me that there will be at least 30.000 people going up the mountain. Maybe even 100.000. Some people going barefoot.

So well invested money in the tent.

Day 11 28/07/2013

Westport – Castlebar – Charlestown – Sligo

Route map

Dist: 108 km
Time: 5.53
Avg speed: 18.4 km/h
Max speed: 45.2 km/h
Tot time: 53.50
Tot dist: 967 km

What a day! It was probably the hardest I had so far during this trip.

Can think of 3 reasons. In order of importance – I think.

Weather – it was just crazy today. Sunny and cloudy, warm and cold, dry and wet and rain. All together and the pressure must have been crazy as well. Very hard

Road – it was relentless uphills and very little down. Hard work all 100 km. No rest moments. Well couple. One nice downhill just after Castlebar and the second Charlestown – well – one more just at the entrance to Sligo. I just didn’t feel the road today.

Rest last night – I set up in tent just about 11. Had some pizza as this was the only thing served in the camp café. It was a very good pizza. So, after going to sleep I woke up at 3 because of some drunken party of the rescue crew. They were following the bar drinks. I didn’t fell asleep till 5. Then was awake at 6.30 by the very nice sun.

I think it would be the combination of all.

Anyhow, the morning was great. Some rain last night so top of the tent was rather wet. Managed to pick up the tent fairly quickly. Had a shower and was off. 3km uphill to get out of Westport. Stopped at petrol station and had my breakfast. Then there were another 4km of uphill.

Ireland 108

It followed like this all day. Very little rest in pedalling. Had a stop for a little lunch. After 70 km. About 1 pm.

Ireland 109

At 80km mark the sky has finally opened and we had a downpour. About 20 km long. And it was in the worst part of the route. The road was very narrow and traffic rather heavy.

The road got narrow after Curry and it was difficult till Ballynacarrow. I think rain started just after Tobercurry.

All of the camping gear is getting dry in the room. I’m sipping coffee waiting for the supper.

The views were really nice at places. Loads of little creeks flowing through the countryside.

Sligo – very aura he little town. I just couldn’t find my way around it.Big time linked to Yeats – the poet.. Seams Luke a pilgrimage place for people from states.

Day 12 29/07/2013

Sligo – Ballyshannon – Donegal – Ballybofey – Letterkenny

Route map

Dist: 111 km
Time: 5.57
Avg speed: 18.5 km/h
Max speed: 58.1 km/h
Tot time: 59.48
Tot dist: 1078 km

Every day during a trip is different. And it was no surprise that today I came back to a symbiotic relationship with the road.

Couple more things that could have made yesterday so tough. It was Sunday and probably people were rushing back home or to get to holiday destination. But there was this violent feeling coming from drivers.

Today – Monday- much less traffic and the urgency has gone as well.

After good night’s rest I was first for breakfast. Slowly packed all my dry tent and other belongings and was on the road by 9.

After yesterday’s fireworks today the atmospheric pressure was much nicer. There was uncertainty about the weather conditions as very heavy skies were looking at me.

As yesterday I felt a bit of discomfort in my left knee I decided to ride a bit slower and limit the distance.

First 30 km of the route were flattish and took me through some nice panoramas. Hills – green lush on the right and bay on the left. And without noticing UT I passes Bundoran and was heading towards Bellyshannon.

Ireland 114

After Bellyshannon uphill started. I was cycling up for good 30 min. But…. Afterwards and this is the difference with yesterday I had a downhill. A beauty of a downhill. I went down for a while then there was a bit of flat road, then a bit more of downhill, another flat and one more down. By the time I got down I was recovered and ready for another uphill.

This was the problem with the road yesterday. I was working hard cycling up but the reward of going down has diluted somehow.

Ireland 118

Before I knew it I was in Donegal or better said I was leaving Donegal on my left and heading towards these mountains.

By this stage I went through couple if generous downpours. I was looking at these mounts and thinking which way will the road go. Well, definitely I wasn’t prepared to see and ride through this part.

Barnesmore Gap – what a spectacle. Two massive hills on each side of the road and the ‘minute’ me peddling in lashing rain. Awesome. These mountains look completely locked and as I was approaching the bottom there was a turn right that took me inbetween these masses of rock and then gently uphill. Once I was out of the passage the rain got slightly milder so I did take a few photos with the camera.

Then there was the climb to the top of the hill and then…. I saw one of the most rewarding views. A long, nice gradient, not too wet, excellent pavement of the downhill.

I let the bike go. It was great feel. massive enjoyment. Unfortunately somebody thought tbat painting loads of yellow lines and writing ‘slow very’ across the road would make a driver slow down. It might wake them up but none slowed down. I had to – just couldn’t face wet paint on the road going 60km/h. Do there was a bit of anticlimax but still. Going do fast and feeling relatively safe was a very nice adrenaline release.

This took me to Bellybofey. First impression great village, beautifully placed. Then I went through all possible potholes you can for on the road.

From there it was an uphill and a nice downhill to Letterkenny.

Hotel, shower and now supper and planning for tomorrow.

The Zen of the road

Day 13 30/07/2013

Letterkenny – Derry – Londonderry – Limavady – Coleraine – Bushmills – Ballytoy – Ballymoney

Route map

Dist: 139 km
Time: 7.40
Avg speed: 18.1km/h
Max speed: 48.8 km/h
Tot time: 67.28
Tot dist: 1217 km

Another longer day. What a contrast. Suddenly all nice roads have gone. Massive hard shoulder was nowhere to be found. Cyclists disappeared. It was like being back in UK.

Landscapes were great but very little or few moments to enjoy as there were no break areas.

It got very difficult to get going. Only at some point before Coleraine there was a decent cycling path.

The hill between Limavady an Coleraine – great challenge. And on the way down there was a driving lane out of action due to roadworks – but there were no roadworks. So I took the empty lane and went down like a king

After Coleraine I hit the road to Bushmills and the Giant’s Causway. Unfortunately it all turned out to be Mickey Mouse. I wasn’t the only disappointed cyclist there.

I went to see places and views that were free and queue free.

Cycled along Yves coast to Ballytoy and there decided to finish my run on Yves North coast. There was a countryside route to Ballymoney so I took a gamble and cycled extra few km.Being here is like Northern Part of UK.

What a contrast.

Day 14 31/07/2013

Ballymoney – Rasharkin – Portglenone – Magherafelt – Cookstown – Armagh

Route map

Dist: 96 km
Time: 5.39
Avg speed: 17 km/h
Max speed: 39.7 km/h
Tot time: 73.07
Tot dist: 1313 km

Getting closer to the end of this trip. It has been another wet day. Although morning looked pretty good. Start at 9 after full English.

Sky was blue, Nice sun was warming my back.

I have chosen to ride on the west side of Lough Neagh. The other side looks so busy with roads and motorways coming and going from and to Belfast and Dublin.

First part on very countryside roads. Loads of farms. Then the road widened a bit and the sun has gone.

I was feeling rather sceptical about getting onto major roads but the one I chose wasn’t too bad. Most of the time there was a hardshoulder. Sometimes barely cycleable, sometimes really good. The moments it wasn’t there … well …

Rain came down at 12. it hasn’t stoppef till now. (6.00) It was a bit cold for the first time here. Had to put on extra layer.

Got to Armagh and decided to stop for the day. I was SOAKING WET. Cold came with wet cloths.

I left massive pool of water at the hotel whilst checking in. Thanks to good spirits of the woman from the reception we had a bit of laugh and soon after I was in shower getting rid off chill in my bones.

Now supper and a chill out time. Depending on weather I might get back to Blessington tomorrow.

Not much of landscape or otherwise photos. Just too wet tlc handle anything.

Day 15 1/08/2013

Armagh – Keady – Castleblayney – Carrickmacross – Ardee – Slane – Ratoath – Lucan – Newcastle – Rathmore – Blessington

Route map

Dist: 156 km
Time: 9.59
Avg speed: 15.6 km/h
Max speed: 43 km/h
Tot time: 83.06
Tot dist: 1469 km

It could have been the last day of the trip if I would/could manage all those km and cycle in the rain.

Well, morning started slowly. Waiting for breakfast. I was awake at six. Wow! I don’t do these things.

Anyhow – checked the route again to make sure I would avoid cycling tired through motorways around Dublin.

Sky went from dark grey to lighter and then to a little stripe of blue on the horizon. I was getting rather excited.

Went down to the bar and – it was early so I waited for the breakfast. There was another guy in the bar. Turned out to be English. Posh looking, one of those that express their professional opinion and they haven’t a clue what they talking about. One of those that would read ‘Which’.

Started small talk and unbelievable went on to the weather. He said that it was looking good and it would clear off for the day. Why? Before he finished couple of toasts it was a hell on earth again. Water and wind were lashing across the window. My heart sunk. If I go out in this rain I would be ready for cloths change before I get to cycle.

After a very slow breakfast and shower and packing I was ready to go. I got the bike from the boiler room. Got wet, set up the bike indoors and then out to face the nature.

Rain was a bit milder, wind was there – for the first time during this trip – and it was head wind.

First 50 km – hills were coming thick and fast, downhills – I had tlc push to go down because of the wind.

By the time I got the 55 km I felt totally exhausted. Stopped at Topaz petrol station and had a dfink and couple of pastries.

From 55 to 80 constant uphill. I was thinking. I’m on flat were are these hlls coming from? And then the biggest surprise. In Slane there was the only mark hill during this trip marked with gradient and with controlled traffic. More – there was down and uphill that looked the same. In the middle of nowhere? Got up the hill and found another Topaz. Had hot sandwich and another drink.

The rest of N2 – 16 km – were a bit easier in terms of hills, road was relatively ok, but I couldn’t go faster as the wind was constant and consistent – strong.

I got off the main road and started cycling on suburbs of Dublin. Very nice bedroom places for Dubliners.

I had more scary moments cycling few km on those roads than doing 100′s on the main ones

A few fast and furious pushed me into the ditch on overtaking.

In Lucan I stopped again the last one before Blessington. Had a sandwich and when I took off I realised that my back wheel was misbehaving. The one I was afraid off. Broken spoke. I had to loosen up back break a bit so it wouldn’t touch the wheel.

I knew I had another hill or couple on my way to Blessington – it is on the verge of Wicklow mountains.

I was cycling slowly. I think at that time I was so tired that my mind had switched off all of the feeling of pain and I was just driving up and up. The only concern – safety. Put front lights on as it was getting darker. I had my back light switched on most of the day. Although the rain stopped after 1pm it was dark and gloomy. I could see some blue sky but it was on the horizon all the time.

I got back to the main road with 3 km to cycle. I got to Blessington at 9.30 after about 10 hours in the saddle.

Wind will never be my friend when cycling. I had quite a few moments I though I wasn’t going to make it. All because of the wind. So demoralising.

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