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!
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:
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.