Cycling Ireland in Summer 2016

Summer 2016 will be a fantastic year for cycle touring.

Myself and my friend Caroline are cycling the coast of Ireland in 2016.  Partly cycling the Wild Atlantic Way route, partly cycling along our own planned roads.

Rides for me so far: Quite a few to date.  Audax UK Member. Rather a slow cyclist, spending more time gazing about than thrashing my bikes. Ridden several CTC’s, and one End to End (UK).  Mostly ride alone, simply because I tend to favour hills, decent distances and I look so stupid with all my bags that no one can bear to cycle out with me. (I was in my Sunday Best for this pic) – plus, I hadn’t eaten cake for a week.

Me and Hettie Lighthouse ChallengeMe:  ITS AN OLD PIC OK!! 

This is my blog, and as I have a much younger looking companion, I need to look good here!

Introducing the infamous Mad-Manx-Cow Caroline. (Drum roll)

IMG_1056

Who can only be described as a Manx phenomenon.

She carries along with her a hefty moo cycling C.V.  There are not many off road tracks left in the Isle of Man or the UK for that matter, that do not have the scars of her tread marks on them.  Caroline has had a huge effect on increasing the number of women taking up mountain bike riding on our Island, with training sessions, frequent off-road rides out, she has changed the lives of many of us for the better.

Here she is below, on her beloved mountain bike.  I am soooo pleased to be sharing this ride to Ireland with Caroline.  I just hope I can justify her time off the mountain-side.  We will have rather a lot of tarmac between our start and finish.  Caroline is also a rather nifty fell and road runner, and she swims like a fish too.  So if any emergency arises, I feel confident that I can send our Caroline out there to get help!  (While I eat the rest of the cake of course, and finish knitting that sock).  Apt at taking on a challenge she bravely tackles anything and every thing.

IMG_1171

Mad-Manx-Cow Caroline – looking like she is in the Lake District here (and she is!)

… anyway, I just hope our two wheeled companions keep in touch with one another along the way, as her ‘Lovely’, will be nudging onto that rough bit o’ track at every opportunity, whereas my trusty ‘Steed’ will be being a bit ‘precious’ on where her wheels roll.

What does Caroline not do:  Caroline has not yet ventured to the Moon as far as I’m aware.  Scratches chin, did I hear somewhere……?  but lets not remind her of this fact, or we might not have the pleasure of her company for some time me thinks.

Shedman (hubby dearest) said I was not to tell Caroline about this kinda thing… but thankfully its not in Ireland – I’m safe!

Dont Tell Caroline about this!

OK.  So were exactly are we going to then?  Our Route.

 

We are cycling from Cork to our starting point, as initially this ride was all about an Irish End to End.  We therefore start at the very bottom of Ireland.  Mizen Head, then cycle up country, taking along the breathtaking views of the West Coast.  We will frequently be cycling along the longest coastal route in World – The Wild Atlantic Way.  I get excited just thinking about this ride, let alone typing this wee tale about our trip. 🙂

The Wild Atlantic Way   Someone had his thinking cap on, when this little nugget was put on the tourist table.

Sadly on this particular trip we are unable to completely stick to the WAW, simply due to time and cost restraints. Our ride will nudge onto the WAW in places. But if anyone is interested …. Audax Ireland have an Audax that does stick to this route:

Audax Ireland Wild Atlantic Way 2000km Event

Its a proper Audax folks, lots of cycling (2000km of it in 177 hours so not much sleep), but a huge challenge for those who are up for it.  I’m hoping to return to Ireland in the future and complete this exact route, but cycling 100+km per day as an Audax Perm event, and not 300km per day as the hard-core Audaxers will be doing.

 

Back to Our Big Ride Out:

The planning has been meticulous to ensure we got the accommodation nights we needed, (tis a busy place in the high season) and I started booking this as soon as the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry company put up their 2016 timetable.

Caroline and I were not interested in cycling nearly 100miles a day to get it done.  Instead, we intend to enjoy the views, take lots of photographs, watch the abundant wildlife, sample the food and the drink and the craic, and love the miles (km) on the road.  During our tour of Ireland, we start at Mizen Head, and officially end the End to End at Malin Head in the North.  We will be stopping at Kilarney to become proper tourists, and at Kilkee, where we intend to go dolphin watching, and later that day swim in the Pollock Holes.

Our ride ends at Malin Head the most Northerly point of Ireland, where we have another day off the bicycles to enjoy our day off at a hotel spa, where saunas, a pool, facials and body massage awaits.

The final part of our tour is to cycle around the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland.  To sample the wares of the Giants Causeway, Sheep Island and finally the ancient town of Carrickfergus before getting the ferry home via Belfast.

Here is our tour route:

Cork to our starting point    121km and almost 1,000m of climbing take us to our first B&B.

Mizen Head to Kenmare      96km and 1275m of climbing

Kenmare to Kilarney            71km and 800m of climbing

Why are you not doing the ‘Ring of Kerry’ I hear you ask.  We are cycling this route in high season, and I have been warned that the ‘Ring of Kerry’ stunningly beautiful as it is, is full of coach parties on narrow roads.  Just dont fancy that on a bicycle to be honest. Ireland has such beautiful hot spots, we are missing this particular one.

Kilarney to Kilrush              105km and 830m of climbing

Kilkee to Ballyvaughan       95km and 800m climbing

Ballyvaughan to Cong         86km and 500m climbing

Cong to Bangor Ellis          110km and 700m climbing

Bangor Ellis to Standhill   109km and 700m climbing (nice and flat here!)

Standhill to Donegal          75km and 700m of climbing

Donegal to Letterkenny     90km and 1100m of climbing – going back up again….

Letterkenny to Malin Head    107km and 1100m upward and onwards to the most Northerly point of Ireland!

As we celebrate an Irish End to End with a bottle of bubbly in the warmth of a Spa followed by lovely massage, we start to look forward to seeing our own Island home again, and the following day, we begin the final leg of our tour to take us back home again.

Baffin to the Giants Causeway     85km and 718m of climbing, another easy peasy, lemon squeezy pootle, leaving behind us the great Atlantic Ocean, we turn East towards the Irish Sea and home.

Giants Causeway to Carrickfergus     105km and 1400m upwards.  Nuthin’ quite like hills facing your return journey, but by now we will be fit enough to race along this distance!

 

Giants Causeway

And our final few miles back to the Belfast ferry port:

Belfast Docks to the IoM Ferry home

In all, this tour is 20 days long.

In the meantime there is plenty to do.  Find out more about each place we intend to stay, so I can add this to this blog.  We are doing this as a holiday, and we both intend for it to be great fun.

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