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Home > Travel > 2007 Ireland solo bicycle tour

July 1 - Galway to Ennis


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The first day of riding, I did 58 miles. This turned out to be one of the nicer days of the week, with one major downpour and several smaller drizzles, wind not too bad.

The night before, I had gotten my bike and maps. I met a couple from Omaha, Tim and Cathy, who were also starting out at the same time as me but headed for a different route.

The ride went well, I felt good enough to do some extra miles to stop off in Gort. Good thing as it was otherwise a long way between pubs and shops.

I soon got into the rhythm and spirit of riding. I found I didn't have any trouble riding on the left (I've driven on the left before) apart from U-turns (more about them later!) and occasionally looking behind me over the wrong shoulder. I enjoyed seeing all the animals as I went by, mostly farm animals such as cows, horses, sheep, and ducks. Many dogs came out and barked at me but they were all friendly.

Although Irish drivers tend to go quite fast, they were for the most part very considerate while passing. I quickly got into a pattern of signaling to them when it was safe to pass me as I had much better visibility than them, which they seemed to appreciate. However, on some of the narrowest single-lane roads I simply had to dismount and move off into the brush to let cars by. Fortunately on those roads the cars were far and few between.

13 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
Album viewed 91 times

July 2 - Ennis to Kilkee


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I rode 51 miles this day, with rain and head winds most of the way as I headed towards the coast. The rain kept me from taking more pictures. Most of the riding was again on nice quiet roads.

There were some challenges - I unfortunately got a bit lost towards the end (adding 10 miles to my route) and had to stop and ask for directions at an auto repair garage. Again the roads were quite rough, one of them had more potholes than solid ground, making me feel like I was playing hopscotch on it.

When I got to Kilkee I realized my legs were sunburnt. I couldn't believe it in such rainy weather, but it turns out the rain was washing away my sunscreen.

4 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
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July 3 - Kilkee to Loop Head and back


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I rode a light 43 miles today on a loop starting and ending in the resort town of Kilkee. This turned out to be one of the nicest days for weather, with less rain and even some sun and blue skies. I started feeling much more comfortable, both on the bike and with popping into pubs in the tiny little villages where everyone knows everything about one another.

I had headwinds most of the way to Loop Head (the tip of the peninsula), and tailwinds and crosswinds on the way back. At one point, I was riding back downhill with a tailwind pushing me on, when I came around a bend and suddenly a crosswind blew me to opposite side of the road. Luckily the roads weren't too busy there! I found that dealing with the winds was similar to on the motorcycle, keeping my upper body loose and countersteering to lean the bike into the wind helped tremendously.

In the morning at breakfast I briefly met a nice German couple, Heike and Wolfgang, from a town near Heidelberg. I later discovered they were also riding some of the same roads as me on their tandem bike.

On my way to Loop Head I was stopped by a tourist family (in 4 cars!) and asked where I rented my bike. When I answered "Galway", they couldn't believe it. They turned around and found a local place to rent bikes, and I later passed them struggling uphill against strong headwinds. As I was finishing up my snack at Loop Head, they finally managed to make their way up there, one by one. I offered to take a photo of all of them together, and then discovered that a couple of them also wanted to have their pictures taken with the crazy American girl!

6 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
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July 4 - Kilkee to Lisdoonvarna


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I rode 64 miles total, which was a combination of an inland route from Kilkee to the spa town of Lisdoonvarna via Lehinch, Ennistimon, and Kilfenora, and then out to the Cliffs of Moher and back to Lisdoonvarna. Unfortunately it was another very wet and windy day, with the uphill climbs to the cliffs especially challenging with headwinds and lots of traffic. Coming back downhill with tailwinds was much nicer, even though it was pouring by this time!

I had my only accident of the week this morning, luckily it was a very minor fall caused by a bad U-turn. I got much better at them through the week though!

Besides speaking more with Heike and Wolfgang, I also met a nice group of Canadian cyclists in our B&B in Lisdoonvarna while thawing myself out in front of the fire. Irving, Isabelle, Steve and Helsa thought I was a bit crazy for doing my tour on my own but I thought they were a bit crazy to be part of a group of 16. We all went out to dinner together at the Roadside Tavern, a nice pub in town that had some traditional music playing.

7 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
Album viewed 67 times

July 5 - Lisdoonvarna to Ballyvaghan and back


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This was the toughest riding day of the week, with rain and gale force headwinds for most of the way. Getting lost in the morning added on 12 miles for a total of 57 for the day. If the Irish weatherman is commenting on how bad the 60 kph winds are (bad enough to close down the ferries) they must be bad! I startled one farmer with my tongue in cheek "Lovely day" comment, to which he replied, "Well, it's a bit wet!"

At the caves I met a nice family, with the father from Humboldt, CA who has been living in Norway the last 8 years. He met his partner twice on a train in Europe, figured it was destiny, and moved to Norway to be with her and start a family. He now works as a set designer for the only soap opera in Norway.

I saw Heike and Wolfgang and the Canadians a couple of times on the road today. This was definitely the busiest of all my routes, I didn't see too many other bicycles the rest of the week. However I didn't see anyone else (besides cows) on the last extension I did, which included an exhausting 2.5 mile straight climb against the headwinds.

8 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
Album viewed 68 times

July 6 - Lisdoonvarna to Galway


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I had much better weather today, with a mix of sun and rain and winds. Although my odometer finally quit in the rain, I think I rode about 62 miles. The final stretch from Oranmore to Galway on major thoroughfares at rush hour was pretty challenging!

On my way to Kinvarra, I met 3 young lads walking, they stopped me and asked directions to Ballyvaughn. I think they must have been pulling my leg, as it was miles away and they were headed in the wrong direction! One of them told me to stop by a particular pub in Kinvarra and ask for "Seals", but I didn't really trust him enough to do that.

One of the other boys called me a "loner" for riding on my own. I think he was a bit young to appreciate how nice it was not to argue with anyone about where and when and how far to ride. I certainly didn't want to get in a fight with myself! Furthermore, I felt that being a woman on my own made me more approachable, and I found it relatively easy this time to meet many new people and strike up conversations, so I actually found traveling this way to be more social than previous vacations.

10 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
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July 6/7 - Galway


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On Friday evening I walked with Heike and Wolfgang into town to find some dinner. The crowded paths in Galway turned out to be a bit of a culture shock after all the nice quiet villages and country roads! Afterwards we stopped by the greyhound track next door to where we were staying and watched their final race.

Saturday was a short day, with no rush to get anywhere, and probably the nicest weather we had all week with rain only in the morning. I actually hadn't planned to ride this day as I thought I would have to return my bike, but I was able to keep it to ride out to Moycullen, and then back along the coast for a total of about 26 miles.

In Moycullen I went for an hour-long horse ride with a guide, John, and an experienced horsewoman, Audrey, both locals, which made for a nice change. I had completely forgotten that there would be differences between English-style and Western-style riding, though! I was used to Western style, so this felt like going from a car with power steering to a completely manual car. We did some brisk trotting (with posting) for a good part of the ride, which would be unusual for an American trail ride. My horse, Brandy, was a bit stubborn, adding to the challenge.

On the ride back I had a nice chat with a local windsurfer, Eamonn, whose son is living in LA. I watched him head out as I ate my lunch. It's been nice on this trip to meet so many active people who try to live their lives as fully as possible.

7 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
Album viewed 61 times

July 8 - London


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I spent an evening in London on the way home, as it was far more convenient for the flights.

After arriving too late to catch the Tour de France, and with the Wimbledon Men's Final well underway, I decided to go for a long walk around town. I spent a few hours wandering around, including Notting Hill, Hyde Park (one of my favorite spots in London), St. James's Park and Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Soho and Marylebone, ending up at one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants.

4 files, last one added on Jul 12, 2007
Album viewed 69 times

8 albums on 1 page(s)

Random files - 2007 Ireland solo bicycle tour
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Lighthouse at Loop Head105 viewsI hadn't realized it but this was the first time I saw Heike and Wolfgang's tandem bike. Unfortunately the camera didn't keep focus with the timer this time.

This is a real working lighthouse, so it was unfortunately closed to the public.
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Lake105 views
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Greyhounds racing87 viewsApart from the betting and the operation of the lure, professional greyhound racing didn't seem any different from amateur sighthound racing here in the US.
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Small lake146 views
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Ailwee Cave96 viewsExploring the cave was a good way to escape the rain for a bit!
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The road that defeated me119 viewsImagine the steepest hill in San Francisco. Now imagine that stretching on for about 10 city blocks, with only a tiny bit of leveling off near the end. That's what this road (near Carran) was like.

I made it up about halfway, and finally had to give up and walk the rest. I felt that perhaps had it been earlier in the week I might have made it all the way; however one of the guides from my tour company told me that she also had to walk this hill. The downhill side of it was also so steep I had to brake substantially the entire way down.
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Irish coastline and Atlantic Ocean146 views
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Irish ducks123 viewsThey were swimming in a lake near to Ennis

Last additions - 2007 Ireland solo bicycle tour
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London walk - 4 hours130 viewsAn approximation of my walk through London, although Google only wants to show driveable routes, so it's hard to show my stroll through Hyde Park. Rain only in the last hour!Jul 12, 2007
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Galway to Moycullen and back - 26 miles plus horse ride128 viewsFinally some nice weather with rain only in the morning.Jul 12, 2007
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Lisdoonvarna to Galway - 62 miles134 viewsMix of sun, rain and wind. Includes stop at Burren Perfumery near Carran.Jul 12, 2007
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Lisdoonvarna loop - 57 miles117 viewsRain and head winds all day! (Yes, the winds turned around midday.) Includes stops at Ailwee Cave and Poulnabrone Dolmen, plus about 12 miles of being confused getting out of Lisdoonvarna in the morning.Jul 12, 2007
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Kilkee to Lisdoonvarna - 64 miles118 viewsVery wet and windy all day. Includes extra side trip from Lisdoonvarna to Cliffs of Moher at the end.Jul 12, 2007
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Kilkee - Loop Head - Kilkee loop - 43 miles132 viewsMix of sun, blue skies and rain with head winds there and tail winds / crosswinds back.Jul 12, 2007
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Ennis to Kilkee - 51 miles138 viewsIncludes 10 miles of getting lost between Doonberg and Kilrush! Very wet with headwinds most of the way.Jul 12, 2007
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Galway to Ennis - 58 miles167 viewsOne major downpour, mix of rain and sun the rest of the day.Jul 12, 2007