Doolin to Galway


83.5 kilometers.

I ride to the ferry launch this AM to see if the ferry is going to run.

Hmmm, looks pretty deserted.

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A long timer out to walk his dog tells me they have officially shut down for the season. We talk for a while and he tells me I am a very strong man to ride in weather like this. He says he is going to Galway later today and will honk when he passes me.

I set off and ride into the landscape called “The Burren” The Burren is an very old Karst formation. It was written about it that there wasn’t enough land to bury your dead, and that neighbors stole dirt from each other.

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Yet cattle thrived eating the mineral rich grass growing in the rock clefts.

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I was so excited to be riding through this landscape. Jerry at the hostel who is a hiker reminded me to just switch the rain off in my mind.

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This land has been inhabited for a long time. It is crossed with rock walls and remains of cottages.

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This is the first peat I’ve seen, cut and rolled to dry for burning. Looks like little soil rolls.

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What kind of creatures are these? Llamas? Alpaca’s? They have such long graceful necks.

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To the point.

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Kilrush to Doolin, a rainy day cycle


61 Kilometers today.

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I look out the window of my unheated empty hostel. It is 8:30 AM, still too dark to cycle. The wind is blowing the cold rain into it. I shiver involuntarily. I check the weather on the internet. 12 degrees C. Gale warning in effect. Rains intensifying in the morning. I manage a mischievous grin. Soon I am going to be cycling in this stuff. Cool!

View out my window at 8:30 AM.

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What I really like at the end of the day is to wear my pajamas underneath my clothes. They are so soft and warm. Cycling in rain gear is the opposite. The jacket sticks to my arms as it gets soaked. I feel the cold plastic wrapped around me like chilled cellophane. I am just a little dryer on the inside than the outside because the lack of air circulation means that soon my shirt is soaked with sweat. The wet shirt chills me when I stop.

I now wear the rain trowsers over just underwear. With pants under, they get too hot. The rain pants cling to my bare legs, transmitting the chill and the feel of the rain. My legs sweat going up hills, and the pants get soaked on the inside.

The leather gloves are soaked. The Sealskin waterproof socks do not dry out at night. Heck, I just ran them through a dryer and they are still wet. But even wet they do keep my feet warm, if wrinkled. The helmet cover rain hat works well. The helmet holds the rain hat away from my head allowing air to circulate underneath.

The Arkel panniers keep soaking up moisture. They keep getting heavier and heavier. I chose them because of the myriad pockets. But the truly waterproof Ortleibs would be a better choice in the rain, especially if all your gear is organized into stuff bags inside.

But I’m not the only crazy one. Check out these surfers:

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Ok, that kinda makes sense. But this golfer with an umbrella?

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Here is the view heading into Doolin. The Island in the background is Inisheer, one of the Aran islands. I’ll go there tomorrow if the weather permits the ferries to run.

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Doolin is one of two places to catch a ferry to the Aran islands, and is touristy.

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The Aille River Hostel in Doolin. The owners daughter in pink plays in front.

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Slea Head and the Dingle peninsula


Today is a day of rest. Fin at the Rainbow Hostel has a car, and is going to drive around the Dingle peninsula. I invite myself along. This is the furthermost western part of Ireland, and therefore of Europe.

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This is Fin. She is an art teacher in London here on holiday.

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The Irish in the early Christian era created small homesteads and built rock houses and “beehive” huts on their small farms. These beehive huts date from before 1200 and served as food storage buildings. They are very cleverly built. Each successive layer of stone went in a little bit until a single stone could cap the top. The layers of stone sloped outwards directing water outdoors. I like the bush toppings.

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The dramatic coastline at Slea Head.

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An early homestead pre 1200- but still used.

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The Dingle peninsula.

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There are several small harbors. This boat is typical of the small boats I see. It is covered with fabric and tarred. You can see several of the patches.

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Here is the underside showing the craftsmanship.

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Big thanks to Fin for sharing the day with me and best wishes for her further adventures in south Ireland!

The Dingle Peninsula


I decide to simply wear my rain gear all day today. It’s a good decision, it starts raining and clears up half a dozen times.

I am riding past a schoolyard and and I hear a young girl burst out laughing. Her laugh is so loud and histerical I look over. She is pointing- at me! Several other kids run and grab the chain link school yard fence and shake it while jumping up and down jeering and laughing. I wave, but I don’t get it. What’s so funny?

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And then Leslie creates a scary decoration for Halloween. A punk cyclist has run down and beheaded a hapless pedestrian. Those damn rogue cyclists.

Halloween accident

Sing along: “I’m coming to your town, I’m going to tear it down, I’m an American cyclist”

I can’t resist donkey pics. My bike is renamed “Griboulle”, after a famous french donkey. Griboulle looked a lot like this.

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I have a half hour conversation with this donkey’s owner. He is bemoaning the lack of work, how there are so many empty houses, what had happened to the neighborhood.
He asks me if I believe in the hereafter. No, I say, I believe in living this life fully and letting the rest take care of itself. He agrees. He asks me if I drink. I tell him No, I need to keep this machine working at it’s very best, and besides, a pint of Guiness in Ireland costs 4.5 euros- that’s $6.25. He wishes he lived in London. Sadly, I have not yet met a content Irishman.

The Dingle peninsula is very scenic. The pic is of Inch Beach. We are looking across Dingle Bay to the Iveragh peninsula.

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Cemetery on Dingle Bay.

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Cows in momentary sun on Dingle Bay.

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Dingle is described as a fishing village. It really is about tourism. It has a lovely harbor…

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fun side streets…

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some boats…

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and this frisky sheep pony.

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Just look at that curious face. Do you know what kind of horse this is?

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In Killarney


My sister Stacey wrote me an email in which she says

“There are days when I envy the crap out of you for what you are doing and then there are days I think you are flipping crazy.” She is no wimp. She just went gator gigging, the motor broke, and she and her boyfriend had to paddle the boat two miles though gator infested waters. She calls that “a blast.”

She’s right. Sometimes this is crazy. I am cycling down a narrow road with no shoulder. It’s raining and I’m cycling into a headwind that reduces all my effort to 6 measly mph. I hear the downshifting of a big truck or bus behind me. I glance forward, and see a row of cars coming. Shit, he can’t pass me. My helmet mirror is filled with a tourist bus as it slows to 6 mph. I unclip my left toe clip and lean into a hedge covering a stone wall and pull the bike as close to me as I can. I watch the long body of the bus glide past my bike clearing it by 6 inches. Tourists stare through the glass at me. Cars are close behind, pilot fish stuck to their whale. The drivers turn to gawk at me, shaking their heads as if I am daft. Of course; I am.

Later the sun breaks through the clouds and the same road develops into 4 lanes with a bike shoulder. The human machine is working very well, the legs pedaling briskly with little effort. Suddenly the sun illuminates a patch of golden rocky Irish hillside. It is so beautiful tears come to my eyes. What a lucky, lucky man I am!

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Do you see it?? The little patch of gold mountain top to the right?

The terrain as I am cycling northwest has become craggier and steeper. The cows are being replaced with sheep.

Killarney is the loveliest town I have been in. There are streets and streets that look like this:

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It feels so good to arrive by bike. I am such a snob that I can’t imagine traveling by Bus. Bus. What a dull sound, like a flat tire.
I feel like a conquering hero when I arrive by bicycle. “Oh man, I actually made it, here I am in Killarney. Wow.” I couldn’t arrive by Bus and feel that way.

I need to eat more. I am losing weight too fast. My cooking is simple, but, simple. So I have dinner out, the first meal I haven’t cooked. It is a lovely, warm, delicious, vegetarian lasagna served with- fries!

It’s hard to be with new people all the time, knowing no-one, no-one knowing me. As friendly as I am, few are interested in a guy cycling Ireland. In the country I am a wierdo, an obvious tourist. Farmers in tractors wave because we both go slow. In the city I get little patches of conversation with roommates, hostel clerks, the occasional pedestrian. This blog helps me balance. I feel like I am talking to all of you.