Friday, 22 August 2014
So, off to Ireland with Act Cycling Tours for a ride from Mizen head in the far south of Ireland, to Malin Head in the far north ! Six days cycling, 460 miles. Hope we don’t get too wet!!!
Follow this blog to watch our progress, and some of the fun and experiences we are going to have.
Saturday, 23 August 2014
Cork and beyond
What a beautiful day in Cork. The sun was shining, and the group began to gather at the Issaccs Hotel there. Some flew in at 8 am having been up for hours. Others came from far and wide. Gary our American rider having set off the previous day from Boston! Eventually everyone here by early afternoon, so we set off with Luke our taxi man, taking us down to the lovely town of Schull, followed by the ACT van, newly sign written, looking splendid in the sun.
Schulls a beautiful, bustling small town, set in amazing countryside, on the Mizen Peninsula where our journey begins tomorrow. A great meal at the Bunratty Inn, as we all start to get to know each other and make new friends. Lots of ‘bike talk’, but also lots of talk about the weather tomorrow. Huge big depression due to drop lots of rain over County Cork, all day long. Get your waterproofs out guys !!!!
Sunday, 24 August 2014
Ireland in the wet!!!
A quick minibus ride down to Mizen Head first thing in the morning. We had woken to rain but it slowed right down by the time we got to Mizen it didn’t seem too bad.
After unloading the bikes and putting them back together, with the first team photo, it was then time to set off. As we completed the first 25 mikes along the north of the Mizen peninsula, it actually seemed to be starting to brighten up. It was just a light drizzle. So there was optimism as we reached Shaun for our first stop of the tour. Shaun had done us proud. Even on a Sunday morning he managed to find the normal allotment of bananas, chocolate, milk and all those other staple foods for a tour !! Just as we reached the the van though, the heavens opened. Rain came pouring down. During a short break in it, we dashed out after eating, hoping that was all we would see, but no, very shortly it started pouring again. Virtually for the next 25 miles the heavy rain continued. A long climb and steep descent, all in the rain.
The wind over the top was really strong, almost blowing you off the bike. Fortunately everyone got to the second stop safely, but many with cold white numb fingers due to the heavy rain. It really had been a tough second section. Our American rider Gary had a special way of making sure he was seen from behind !!(Plus the flashing light facing forward on his helmet !) Fortunately,after this second stop, the rain eased a little, turning just into light drizzle as we continued along the fantastic Ring of Kerry. Despite the weather the scenery was often breath taking. Often shrouded in mist, but still amazing. We had all reached our B&B by 5pm, and the hot showers were really appreciated, as was the great hospitality of the Castle LodgeGuesthouse. Hot toddies all round ! Walking into bustling Kilkenny for our evening meal and a little Guinness seemed to revive most of us,but an early night beckoned.
Monday, 25 August 2014
Day 2, Killarney to Limerick
The weather was much kinder to us today. While overcast most of the day, one sharp shower, and the odd little spot was all we had.
A number of fairly long climbs, if not that steep, but all in the first 25 miles, so the first session was a hard one.
After that the roads were good, a little undulating, but NO SIGNIFICANT HILLS. !!
Travelling mainly on minor roads, we had a great day. Lots of lovely villages and towns, but relatively little traffic.
Brian and Laura managed to find themselves a nice seat at one of the stops. The local cattle tried to make him feel at home too. Into Limerick for the night. We are slap bang in the middle of town. Bars a bit noisy but easy to just find somewhere to eat and have the obligatory Guinness. Everyone cycled well today. It was a challenge for some, a second 70 odd miles in consecutive days, while others managed to find time to visit Limerick castle before they left, while still getting to the hotel long before the rest of us! (Hertfordshire pro’s). A few aches and pains, but a good day.
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Day 3 – Limerick to Galway
We left Limerick in the dry and arrived in Galway in the dry. Even better it was dry in between! A slightly easier day today,with only one semi-significant hill. The rest was just undulating countryside, firstly through the greenery of County Limerick, but then through the awesome Burren National Park and its Karsk landscape. A really amazing middle section of the day. The Hertfordshire Pros actually cycled with the main group for the first part of the day, as they recovered from their ‘heavy’ night before, celebrating Marks birthday. The group generally began to cycle well together today. Aches and pains setting in, but all now beginning to get used to spending the day on their bikes.
Galway bay was once again awesome as we cycled around it, into the town its self. A bustling, busy town, always welcoming. A great Beef and Guiness Stew at Busker Browns Bar for some of us, topped off a great day, rain free !
SOME COMMENTS FROM THE TEAM
After 2 hard days on the road it was a treat to have a gentle day and take in the scenery of the Buren. Kim.
Great cycling, good scenery fitness improving by the day as is the leadership.(Robin):-)) Some great scenery. Good run into Galway. (Peter)
Highlight of the day had to be cycling past Father Teds House 🙂 childhood dreams fulfilled!! It was a good distraction from the nettle stings and sore backsides! Fantastic trip so far and best way to see our beautiful Country. Laura and Brian
Only one significant hill today, plenty of great scenery, highlight was seeing the pro’s at breakfast having had 2 hours sleep! They were certainly green around the gills. Adrian and Lesley Mark Constable Today was a good day for a number of reasons. One of those being my birthday! I decided that I would see in my birthday with a few beers last night and it just so happened that Limerick was great for that. We found a bar up the road from our hotel and had a few. Local people were chatty and we joined another group in the pub for conversation. I think that this is an Ireland thing as people seem more friendly than the UK! Waking up this morning after having a few beers the night before was tough but the whole group stayed together and we road at a comfortable pace which definitely suited what I was looking for. Another reason for it being a good day was that we travelled through the Burren. This is a particularly nice part of Ireland. It is a national park and is very scenic. Enjoyed that immensely. Oh and another reason for it being a good day: it was dry, warm and wind not in our faces so we are obviously going up Ireland the right way! Look forward to tomorrow as it goes through my favourite part of Ireland: it is another national park and is called Connemara national park. Truly epic place… Can’t wait
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Day 4 – Galway to Swinford. 86 miles
After a great night in Galway, it was time to make our way up to the Maumturk Mountains.
This meant a bit of a slog up the N59 from Galway, but as we got higher and higher, the scenery opened up to some lovely lochs and moorland. Eventually we turned off the main road, and onto the more scenic route. Stunning.
Great descent down into Tearnakill Bridge. A further climb though took us up into an incredible wind tunnel. Wind obviously blowing up the valley was squeezed over a gap between the mountains, exactly where we were trying to cycle.
Eventually getting through this wall of wind, a great hair pin descent, followed by virtually 20 miles along side Loch Nalooey and the enormous Loch Mask. All surrounded by amazing hills. Just stunning, even in the mist. No rain so far.
Unfortunately punctures and the rain came in the afternoon, plus high winds, and the final 25 miles into Swinford turned in to a bit of a trudge. A long and challenging day, finished off by some great Irish stew in the local pub in Swinford. Another great day!
NOTES FROM THE RIDERS
It was a slightly more difficult day today due to the strong winds. That aside the scenery was spectacular and well worth a view. My highlight of the day was when Martyn came up beside me and said you’re cruising at 24mph 🙂 im not going to mention the wind was on my back on that point. My low point was unclipping my right foot and leaning to the left, won’t be making that mistake again! – Laura
Not sure why we ever left Galway nice hotel, lots of eating houses and shed loads of pubs but the scenery and steep hills throgh Conemara soon made me realise why! super day and heard its all down hill from here! – Brian
What a day, started well with a blast to the 1st food stop, averaging 15.5 mph. Then we hit the head wind. Very hard work to reach the overnight stay. Cracking Irish Stew in the local pub. After 87 miles that was just the job. Looking forward to a shorter route tomorrow. - Kim
Can we not talk about punctures pleeeease! – Lesley
Enjoyed that day a lot as we went through the Connemara national park. Truly spectacular views and very remote. The route went through the mountains and along some loches across to Swinford. Missed all the rain and ended up on time as planned (pretty much) at the b and b!… – Mark
Friday, 29 August 2014
Day 6 – Donegal to Malin Head
The final day.
The sky seemed to be clearing as we set off from Donegal. As we made our way to the first stop we found some excellent roads. Climbing high, the weather definitely was improving. Some great runs along the top of the moorland that we went through.
However, after the stop, the heavens opened. Constantly raining,with high winds. While most of the time the winds were behind us, it seemed that as we got closer to Malin, this changed. Driving rain, high winds, cold cold temperatures. A truly tough final day.
Eventually we reached Malin Head, with its steep ascent to the final point, the mostnGerryrly location in Ireland. We didn’t spend too long up there in the driving rain. You could see it being blown almost horizontally across the landscape.
We escaped back to the comfort of Malin Head View B&B, what a relief. Hot showers to warm us up and then our last meal together at the Sea View Tavern.
A great week, a great ride, a great group.
FINAL NOTES FROM THE RIDERS
Beautiful start to our day enjoying the Donegal countryside with the wind on our back. However after lunch the weather turned wintery and we were battered by wind and rain all the way to Malin. Nothing could have prepared us for the final push up to Malin Head it was steep, exsposed and the weather was definately against us but through gritted teeth, sweat and tears we made the final acsent to the finish line. It was an emotional end to a fantastic week, im really glad I took this trip 🙂 Laura & Brian
OMG. what a day. Started well with a blast to the 1st food stop. Shortly after the restart to Malin Head the heavens opened and the wind went to gale force. Cracking scenery when the mist allowed you to see it. Malin head is actually in Scotland, well thats what it seamed due to the the wind and mist. We finally reached Malin head which wasat the top of a steep hill. Job done. It has been an absolute pleasure to do this ride as the riders and ACT support staff we great. Will hopefully do another ride with ACT. in the future. Kim.
Hi – today we took the challenge ride… this was a slight excursion (30miles) into the Bluestack Mountains. Seeming it was the last day myself and Robbie thought we would go for something a little longer. Martyn put it together and it was truely an excellent route. Total mileage for this ended up being 120 miles and the rest of the group did the normal route. Tough day and a real challenge indeed. As it is the last day I will end with a comment about the organisors and organisation – it was excellent. Great guys and have all bases covered. The group gelled well together and there was really good banter in the group. This was a great / epic thing to do and definately one thing ticked off the bucket list!!!
We had a great ride today to cap off a fantastic week of cycling. And it was just fitting for Ireland to have today end as our trip started, in the rain. And to make sure it was a real challenge the wind tried to keep us from getting to Malin Head but we all made it. Great job everyone. Hope our paths cross again in the future .
Malin Head didn’t give up its secrets without a fight but we won