Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

Cycle Touring Ireland

Post by:  Jake
6/31/12

The Emerald Isle: a fitting name for a place that gets nearly 55-inches of rain per year, just shy of the 68+ inches that would classify it as a rainforest.  Although we came expecting rain, and were content with a little moisture falling on our trip, the weather as a whole wasn’t too bad.  Highs around 65, lows around 55; pretty ideal temperatures for biking considering most of the U.S. was pushing triple digits. In fact, if you can get over the rain, Ireland is setup perfectly for bike touring.  In general, the topography is mild (although we did curse a few of the steep hills), the back roads have little to no traffic, the locals are extremely friendly and very bike conscious while driving (although most still think you’re mad for cycling around the country). Compared to the Western U.S., the towns are located fairly close to each other and the entire country can be biked in a few weeks fairly easily.  And most importantly, EVERY community has a pub, even if they don’t have a single place that serves food.  If you’re looking for something new to do, bike touring in Ireland will not disappoint.

 

Veronica and I landed in Dublin and took a taxi straight to the bike rental shop.  With bikes under our feet, we navigated to our first nights’ accommodation; a quaint little B&B just outside of the downtown area.  In fact, every night during the trip we stayed in a different town and a different B&B.  B&B’s are prolific in Ireland, and while you can find hotels and hostels in bigger towns, B&B’s were often our only option.  We did venture around the country with reservations which had its pros and cons.  On one hand, it removed some of the spontaneity, but on the other hand, there’s no way we would have found ½ the B&Bs we stayed in without first finding them online and on more than a few occasions, every room in the B&B and sometimes the entire town was booked because of a local concert, golf tournament, or some other special event.  Furthermore, being a Verizon customer in the U.S., our cell phones were useless overseas, which would have made it pretty difficult to call around for availability.

We started planning our route several months in advance, some with the help of guide books, but mostly with Google Earth.  Before the trip we purchased a new model Etrex 20 (with upgradable memory card slot and color maps) and a memory chip that had every road in the UK and Ireland.  From the comfort of the computer at home, we carefully planned out our cycle route to be off the beaten path. These back roads were certainly the highlight of our trip with amazing scenery and nonexistent traffic. We found ourselves cycling extra slow on these sections rather than pounding out the miles, solely so we could enjoy the journey. And when we couldn’t avoid the traffic altogether, it was fairly easy to maneuver around in traffic since many of the larger roads had bike lanes.

We traveled with a combination of bike, bus, and train, using the latter to cover sections that were farther than we wanted to bike. The Bus Eireann system was super easy to navigate.  Bikes, which are charged an extra, usually arbitrary fee, go in the under carriage. You can usually fit them standing upright strapped to a pole, but you need to bring your own straps or bungee cords.  And while not very cheap, it was our only option to cover long distances in a reasonable amount of time.  In case you’re interested here’s our exact route from town to town:  Pickup bikes in Dublin; bus to Cashel; bike to Cahir; bus to Limerick; bike to Bunratty; bike to Ennis; bike to Lisdoonvarna; bike to Kinvara; bike to Galway; bus to Donegal; bus to Letterkenny; bike to Londonderry; bike to Portrush; bike to Ballycastle; bike to Glenarm; bike to Larne; train to Belfast; train to Dublin.  All in all we covered about 250 miles on bike in about 15 days.

Castles, abbey’s, historic ruins, whiskey distillery and beer brewery tours, natural wonders, gorgeous scenery; of all we did, saw, or biked past we continually get asked, “What was your favorite part of the trip?” The answer?  All of it!  The experience as a whole was magical.  I wouldn’t have changed a second.  Not even the rain, because through adversity memories that last a lifetime are created.  Ten years from now, I may not remember much of the Giants Causeway, but I’ll remember the tire we changed seconds before the sky unleashed one of the most torrential downpours I’ve ever been in!  Memories like that are the reason we chose to see Ireland by bike.  Yes, you can see more country in less time in a car and I’m sure you’ll have a great time, but it’s a very different experience.  Having traveled extensively by car, we were ready for something different – we wanted to see, feel, smell and savor the trip rather!  And although there were times we wanted to push the bikes out into busy traffic or over the edge of a cliff and into the ocean, we would absolutely do it again.

 

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Trip of a Lifetime

Post by:  Jake
6/19/12

All our bags are packed, we’re ready to go…. Tomorrow, Veronica and I embark on a trip of a lifetime.  One of those bucket-list trips everyone dreams about.  Or so we’ve been told.  To us, we’re simply making it happen.  We’ve scrimped and saved, and have been planning each detail for over a year.  Ireland by bike.  At least, that’s the simple but appropriate title of one of the many guide books we’ve used to plan for the trip.  ”Cycle touring in Ireland” by Cicerone press, Lonely Planet guide to “Ireland”, Keyguide to “Ireland”, just a few more of the guide books we’ve been using for the past year to plan our “epic” journey around the Emerald Isle.

350 miles over 15 days.  An average of about 23-miles per day.  Very easy and very doable by most peoples standards.  But what a way to see a country?  Early last summer, Veronica and I mountain biked the Going-To-The-Sun road in Glacier National Park and, although we’ve been in the park dozens of times before on the very same road, this experience changed our outlook on what it takes to really “see” a place.  With that fresh perspective, we started planning a cycle touring trip in Europe.  We didn’t know where, how far, or how long we’d be on this journey, but we knew it was something we wanted to make happen.  Over the following year we narrowed it down to Ireland, for many reasons previously disclosed here.

We’ve sorted through gear, purchased airline tickets, reserved rooms in key cities, and have even purchased a few rail connections.  We’ve packed, re-packed, then re-packed a few more times to dial our equipment to only the bare necessities.  I’ve purchased special computerized GPS map cards and have pre-loaded daily routes into a new Garmin GPS.  And with a few other details squared away, we’re ready.

But why don’t we feel like a kid on Christmas eve then?  I mean, from all we’ve been hearing, it’s a “trip of a lifetime”.  And a year of planning should feel a bit more climactic shouldn’t it?  Perhaps it still just doesn’t feel real yet.  I am still sitting in my living room, embraced in the comforts of home.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve been so pre-occupied and consumed with buying a new home?  In fact, we close on the new home during our trip–a friend will be acting as our hand, signing all the legal paperwork, while we’re out having fun. (*Note to self–Buy something nice for said friend!) Whatever the reason for the lack of goosebumps and butterflies, it doesn’t change the fact that we ARE flying out of the country in the morning.  We ARE renting bikes in Dublin, and we ARE going to experience what few ever have the opportunity to.  We are so blessed and so thankful for everything that life has brought us.  We look forward to the adventure that awaits, and adversities that lie ahead (the weatherman is calling for steady rain).  It won’t all be smooth sailing, but from adversity comes growth and for that we are thankful.  Our Ireland bike tour ends around July 9th, but the journey and memories will surely live on forever.  We can hardly wait to post updates, photos, and stories.  But till then, we’re “out of the office”. Cheers!  J&V

 

 

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New Adventures — And FREE STUFF

Post by:  Jake
10/9/11

Thanks again for sticking with us through September while we moved to Colorado.  I’m working hard on setting up a sweet November give-away contest.   Any requests????  Also, I wanted to let everyone in on one of the next big adventures we have planned.

This spring or summer, Veronica and I have been planning for several months now to take a foreign travel adventure.  At first we were thinking about a European bike/train tour, but the more we started reading, the more we started falling in love with the idea of a Bike/Train Tour in Ireland and Scotland.  We’ll spend at least two full weeks traveling by train and bike around as much of the two countries as possible.   Flat tires, rough country roads, and lots and lots of rain will surely be encountered; as will colorful locals, incredible castles, and breathtaking scenery.

We hope you’ll stick with us, and enjoy what is to come.  As always, if you have any adventures you’d like to share, we’d LOVE to have you write a guest post.  Just shoot us an e-mail at OurEverydayAdventures@gmail.com

 

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