Jeremiah Watt Cycling around God's Creation

long distance bicycle touring

Blog 16 – Shamrocks and Kilts Tour

I met a Hillary supporter while in IRELAND……….. they are the same here as they are in USA.
It must be near the end of the journey, homesick and lonesome cling to me like a ghost, whisping and seeping through my every thought. Sitting here this morning having tea in Cavan, and the radio played Willie Nelson’s cover of a special song for Mom and I…..”Unchained Melody”….can’t explain it, but it dang near brought me too tears. So my best explanation is that I guess the world’s most nervous dancer, could actually picture himself holding my sweetie and gliding/stumbling round the floor.. Mom, I sure miss ya.//////
Tired of the coast again, and not inclined to take rest in a hotel in Dublin for six or 7 full days…….so what does a cyclist with “anxious leg syndrome” do with extra time……right…… he adds just over 325 extra miles at the far end of his trip in order to avoid more hotels. My butt has been on fire with complaint ( I have found the back roads of Ireland to be particularly rough at the edges – hemmroud pounding ruff ) but my mind is at peace with the whole choice. My butt has the rest of its life to heal up the way I see it.//////
The Wicklows folks, I loved my ride up and thru the Wicklows, And to make it easier on YOU when you come visit Ireland, these hills are just miles south and west of Dublin. My approach was from the south as I had been riding the southern coast……and all the while as I road. My thoughts are on how many ways to kill a screaming sea gull. My thoughts were not on the waves crashing onto the rugged Irish coast…….nor was it on the billowing white sails of yet another sailboat slipping silently along the beautiful and rugged coast….. nope, just those damn seagulls. They are like finger nails on a chalk board for me. So, somewhere around Arkold I allowed “Shirley Surly” my all-steel steed to take the reins and choose her direction. We slipped away from the coast in an almost imperceptable 138 degree hook to the left…..almost imperceptable may be an overstatement.//////
The route winds it’s way up a fast flowing river, the river Avoca if I read it right. Keep in mind it was written in Garlic so the may have been a silent pee in there somewhere. The trees are mostly huge old Oaks, Elms and the like. Huge trees and  tiny emerald pastures contained within stacked rock walls. It goes without saying that as beautiful as the surroundings are, and as close as the coast is, that the houses are pretty obviously those of the wealthy. I am cycling right thru Irelands version of the famous Scottish golf capital of St. Andrew’s. Is it the same or better, hard to tell since I have only played the Andrew’s course one time. I can tell you the area around is drop dead beautiful and worth seeing, my roads were narrow and winding and yes steep in a few places but not as steep as Scotland nor England.. So bring your clubs if yer a “gulffer”, and if not……just incase you do see a seagull.////
Up, up the walls of the riverbed we climb. The huge trees forming dense and dark canopies thru which I must ride. The rain, or falling Irish sunshine has once again chose too bless us with its presence. Shortly after the mist rain began, the overweight OPPRA-esque clouds dropped closer to the hill tops obscuring my view even further, which was already limited by both tree and hedge. Just about the time that I thought I may be getting wet today, I came to a place called ” the meeting of the rivers” and there sat a hotel and coffee shop. No, I didn’t get a room. I did however park my bike and get a pot of tea with ingentions of waiting the rain out. Exactly what I done for better than an hour. Figured I had timed it all about right, and thru my leg over Shirley and headed strait up a steep climb. I got no more than maybe 500 feet, and it just poured down.///////
It’s only 4pm and I ain’t quitting just yet. Pedal, pedal, and keep the rhythm of the climb going, the breathing and cadence…..time that pedal stroke with each click of my tongue in the front spokes. All things considered it was actually quite a long climb, sort’a caught me by surprise. Pulled under the protective boughs of a huge Spruce tree and checked my phone and map. Dang, I actually rode up the wrong hill after all that. My route will just have to change it seems, replanning and find another way to get to the next town. It cost me an extra 8 or 10 miles, and the rain was just pouring down. And I was already soaked and nothing that I could do about it at this point.//////
I have been looking for a place to set my tent up but too no avail. Finally I came across a soccer field, plunge thru this gate and seek a flat spot off to the back edge of the field against a tall row of spruce trees. The wind is really ripping, and I know my tent will need some protection from the wind. A note about lightweight tents, the rain fly is always a second or separate layer when setting up. Needless to say, I pitched as quickly as I can, but the tent was soaked on the inside just from the set up.  It’s the curse of this little REI tent, one other aspect to keep in mind, the tent design has sloping walls and once inside when you unzip the doors the roof top rain pours into the tent…..yes, aggravating. So it was a very wet night in the tent to be sure.//////
Rode out of there in the morning in heavy rain clouds and a light breeze were keeping me company.  Glendalough National Park was on my morning agenda, and once again it was not a disappointment, well worth the few extra miles. The sun was out and blazing like an Olympians torch. The clothes were off……..well let’s back up a bit, we were down to my cycling bib shorts……and the answer is no, I don’t really give a hoot what the rest of the world thinks of my outfit. Do I say anything when a 312 pound women squeezes into a pair of 102 pound yoga pants……….no sir not me, silent as a mouse. Glendalough is a long narrow lake, that lays at the head of a ancient moraine created by the last ice age. This moraine however was just a little deeper than all the rest as it has been recorded that apparently one certain squirrel was seen digging for that one last acorn……to be continued I am sure in another sequel hit. The water is clear and cold, brilliant blue in the morning sunshine. The lake is flanked by majestic Red barked Pines on the south facing bank that obtains the most sunshine, while Larch and Spruce have taken up all the heavily shaded areas along the opposite edge of the lake where a slim patch of ground clings desparingly to a steep rocky moutainside. No, the beauty of it was not lost on me, I certainly appreciated it for it’s natural beauty. However, there was another very distinct aspect of this Park setting that was equally overwhelming. This area was being logged everywhere you looked. Some areas fully clear cut and replanted, others it appeared to be done in a singular selective fashion. Gavin Nuesome could really take a lesson from folks over here as it pertains to forestry management. Matter of fact, I am totally caught off-guard by the amount of forestry that there is happening in Ireland. Its embarrassing when I compare it to what’s happening at home, shame on the greenies and the complacent Democrats in power of the California Politburo.///////
Dang, it is so obvious that I may have been on the road a week too long. I am mentally glazed over like a Krispy Kreme Dougnut, riding along staring at inappropriate things like realtor’s signs and utility warnings. Completely caught off guard by the road signs that really matter when they should. So I rolled over and sat in the ditch and ate an apple and a jar of peanut butter. Guaranteed, I will have to do a thousand burpee`s tonight to get the gut to work that thru the digestive tract. Somewhat sharper now,  I roll back out of the verge and continue on my way to the top of Sally Gap. This ride is not a leg breaker, it is however long for UK standards and gorgeous. The climb begins in Laragh as you make the turn out of an 18 foot diameter mini traffic circle and claim the Sally Gap single lane route.///////
The early part of the ride finds one comforted by a swift and noisy brook on the left hand, and a growing rocky outcrop that occupies the right shoulder like military epaulets. The brook is not always visible as dense growth attempts to mute its affect on its surrounds, except you cannot subdue this brooks voice as it lashes out and rock and root to be sure it is heard. The road undulates and winds like a slow cork-screw into the clouds above, taking all comers on a twisting tour of Irish beauty from the hands of our Creator. That watery voice of the visible stream is getting much louder than seems proper, and finally off in the rising distance a faint silvery ribbon becomes visible. A waterfall of some 200 feet tumbles and catapults down a rocky face exposed overmillennia. This sort of natural formation is the type of thing that predates picnic tables, which is equally unimaginable. The cyclist is winding his way up the turns which have been cut into the sheer rocky mountain side,  to the left hand of the creek, resplendant green valley floor occupies everything out and across the dale to a rising tree covered slope on the opposite side of the valley./////
Sally Gap waterfall is just the first third of this chain-drive adventure, what comes next is a drastic unbelievable change like that of a moonscape. The first third of this ride is all about a surreal garden type setting rich earth abundant growth and live water. You top out at the upper edge of the waterfall only to find yourself in what is best described as a Scottish Moor. Huge rolling hills or mountains in this case, covered in bracken, fir and gorse. Where possible logging is taking place in large fashion. There are precious few sheep and no cattle to be seen, and I am uncertain if it’s the wrong season for livestock up here or the ground is simply to wet and boggy for livestock. The top  winds along for some 12 miles or more, undulating hills and valleys, logging roads and walkers footpaths………they are playing JAZZ where I sit and type……..little surprise that jazz musicians are the most often murdered artists in the world……more often than accordion players which may come as a surprise.///////
Berry pickers……….well, maybe they are picking Gorse buttons which apparently can be eaten. I had just topped out at Sally Gap where I was greeted by a 4 way uncontrolled stop……so I rode right thru without stopping because I am that rebellious type. From this junction, I am less that 18 miles from the center of Dublin. Now what, that was my thought. To my right the turn would take me to another coastline ( I imagine that on an island ), the road to my left takes me into the county with the heaviest horse population in Ireland. Besides all that heady thinking, it was now past 6pm, the wi d was whipping g, the clouds had once again grown threateni g and the sunshine was running timidly for cover. I had been on the hunt for a place to set up my tent, but everything on the other side was to wet and ruff. So, directly north into horse country I turned. Holding the brakes so as to avoid havi g to use a runaway ramp, I coasted downhill for a few miles, where we make a 90 degree bend and leap over a humpback stone bridge. This is one of those humps that will Introduce you Adam’s apple to your anus if ya hit it too hard. Right on the other side is a soft grassy verge where sheep had been working this portion of the hills, a perfect spot for my tent. Tents up, and the bed is laying out in the to steal away a little moisture if at all possible. I was about to strip down and take my nightly nipple stiffening one bottle bath……… then rub briskly with my towel hoping not too much material fuzz was wedged between the goose bumps. ////////
” nasty stiemizi nordradavick Pavel”…….Being a world traveler I knew instantly that was no ordinary seagull cry. Upon closer inspection of my surrounds, I see the berry pickers or whatever they were doing walking right thru my curtainless spa. Yes they confirm for me they are picking wonderful peet bog blueberries, they grow very very well up here she affirms. Now as we talk, myself, Ladonna which is not pronounced like Al Pacino, and Pavel, it becomes very apparent that we are all horse nuts…….well, two are horse people and one is just nuts. The discussion turns from cycling to saddles, clinics etc. My new friends are from Poland and have a small training facility in southern Poland. They are immensely interested in soft starting horses, and talked about 3 different clinicians. Small world time……one of those was my friend Randy Reiman. You can bet I placed my bet on Randy and gave them a number to try to get ahold of him.////////
I slept well that night as wind whipped at my tent and dense fog settled in upon me like packing peanuts in a box. Read the last 5 chapters of my 8th book since I began this trip. Awoke in the morning ready to face the new day. Coasted and pedaled down out of the Wicklows under dense cloud cover, nothing new with that. I had one more very steep climb to make before I hit Irelands grand valley wherein so many race horse and steeple chase barns are located. It’s also rather like Minnesota in some ways as it’s a land of 10,000 lakes as well. With that said, while it is pretty, it is also hard to capture an image due to its flatness. I rode north till I was only 8 miles from the border of northern Ireland. Figured that was far enough north so I turned my bike around and found a different route back south towards Dublin once again.////////
Along the way I had a visit with Collum who was nailing down slate roof tiles on a VERY STEEP pitched roof. I actually wondered if he had a prehensile tail that he was holding on with as he nailed.sure glad I don’t have your job I holler at him from the road side. I don’t want it iether he says with a smile, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do he says. We visited for an hour about all sort of things, found out that the bulk of all slate is now cut in Spain. That there are almost no young people within the traditional slate and thatch roof installations. A good slate roof will last 50 years at least with minimal care. He did not care for Trump, to verbose to be a world leader, but I like how he thinks on business he states. Sure glad I don’t have your job he says with a smile……don’t think my arse is designed for a bicycle seat he states. Well, I assure him, we can’t all be on bikes…..some have to walk.//////
Then there was Lorkin, a young fella that I actually met twice in two different towns. An avid traveler, and cyclist, who badly wants to travel. We talked for better than an hour considering we met twice. While I did notice that maybe Lorkins travel confidence was somewhat hindered by a broader based media view, I assured him that the majority of people that we meet while traveling, really only want to be helpful not a hindrance. I sensed that once Lorkin got out there and got his feet wet so to speak, that he would find they travel further abroad quickly became easier and safer feeling. I know that you will be reading this my friend, as I always tell my kids ” don’t let fear and common sense hold you back” it only takes one pedal stroke to begin an adventure./////
And lastly Maurice my friend, it was such a pleasure those few minutes of conversation that we had. I know that you want to place me on a fitness pedestal, but I assure you that’s not the case. So get out there and go for that ride you have been longing to do. My congratulations again on being that guy who is caretaking Dad in his old age. Trust me the day that ends is when you will truly long to talk to him again my friend, the road you long for will always be there. Maurice, when I come back to Ireland, I will contact you for those fly fishing lessons and guiding that you do. All the best and God bless, safe travels wherever you go.
That’s the end of the road for me folks, glad that you came along as it made my journey all the more enjoyable. Not sure what comes next, although I have a pretty good feel that the next trip will be to someplace quite a bit more obscure than this ride. Meantime, I say a prayer of thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the safety and protection that I have been granted on this trip. Thanks to the many Szints who prayed for me daily. Thanks to each from me.

4 Responses to “Blog 16 – Shamrocks and Kilts Tour”

  1. Candy Diaz

    Love to read about your travels, be safe always and thanks!

  2. Mark Stewart

    Great stories and wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing your travels Jeremiah.

  3. Jerry Gant

    Thanks, enjoyed the ride but as they say in Texas…”stay on your toes like a midget at the urinal!”

  4. Larkin

    As I’ve already said, it will be great to hear more in person. I might have to slowdown the projects and make some banana bread to go with the coffee.

It would be great to hear from you!

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