The Ireland Bicycle Tour

1997 -- Alpine Club of Canada


The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) has a great annual bicycle tour! This May, 1997, we were in Ireland for two weeks of sunshine (!), good cheer, and great riding.

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Ramblin' Rick, McRick, and RickBee at the cliffs of Mohr. Hundreds of feet high above the Atlantic ocean. This is a major tourist trap, with tour busses disgorging hundreds. Get your photo with the pipe-smoking pooch! Give a coin to the Gypsy mother! Buy some doo-dads in the gift store! RickBee: "Look at all those seagulls!' McRick: "Those aren't seagulls. There are 4 species there, the Gannets, the ..." Ramblin' Rick: "Get back from those cliffs, it's windy" We discussed rappelling down. Would we need 3 lines or 4? No hope of climbing up from the bottom, because there is no beach to land a boat on.
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Sunny for 2 weeks in Ireland! Here, we found a wider road. Most roads were paved, even if they were just wide enough for one small car. My guess is that they would be a muddy quagmire otherwise. Brad always was first to the hilltop, with Peter in hot pursuit (How do Mountain Men get so strong? ... ask someone who was on the trip) There were great views from the tops, due to the lack of trees. The forests were cut long ago, and nowadays if you see a forest then it's a plantation. The sheep are a special breed called side-hill gougers, with left legs longer than right. And if you believe that, ..
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All fresh and perky before the tour. Sidney has the brightest jersey. Dave has the heaviest Panniers. Peter has the newest bike. Ramblin' Rick has the 'garage sale' bike (so named because of all the stuff tacked onto it). Helen has just stretched, and is getting in the mood for another stretch. Tony is wondering whether we are the type to appreciate lawyer jokes (we are). Jane is cruisin' already, your with-it biker gal (Jane, you must have been taking the picture, so we don't have one of you anywhere! Sorry. Send me one pls?). Here we are in front of the Bed & Breakfast "Blarney Stone" in Cork. We are headed out into the green countryside to Macroom, to search for "Findus House", so named because it is hard to find. Half of us go up hill and down dale, and half just go down dale.
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The tourists all stayed down on the coast road. We had the high roads mostly to ourselves. The coastlind of south west Ireland has so many inlets and promontories that you are rarely out of sight of the sea for long (remember, we were lucky with the weather!). Here is the road into Doolin.
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Here are the Oregon Irregulars, keeping watch from a high point (can you see them, up on the roof?). 300 years earlier, Cromwell had improved the ventilation in this tower house with the use of a cannon. There is a spiral staircase in the back corner, and the structure seemed to be solid, with signs of some recent attention to the stone work. This castle was only about four hundred years old. On other days we visited ring forts which were a thousand years old, and there was a dolmen (a horizontal slab supported by two vertical slabs, originally within a burial mound) which was estimated to be four thousand years old. And Saint Cronin's church, circa 1100 A.D.(?).
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You know there's awful lot to be said about this Irish traditional folk music and folk lore, because first of all, you have to learn it, and first you must learn the talk, and then you must learn the grip, and after that you must learn the truckly hallow, and then you have the whole lot, only just to keep on practicing it, because Seamus Ennis knows far more about this than even the old folk lordy lordy themselves, because Seamus Ennis once met a little leprechauny truckly hell, which come up from that in the limeretty limeretty hill huckers, before the earthean trrove, before the leprechaun erean, and long before the argy forrey, and that was in the deep pond doon, before the emerald isle was dropped 'blucck' in the water.
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Dave and Brad, the tour leaders, always cheerful, even when tires pop and bikes turn into a bag a' bolts. They run Golden Mountain Tours, the ACC summer camp, and Vancouver International Airport in general. They also know how to find a good pub and home in on the attractions. Helen corraled them for this shot.
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We have just descended the steepest road in Ireland (seemed so), following a dairy truck that was trying to spin its wheels right off. Time for some lunch and to slow down a bit. First, a round of water. Then, soup and a sandwich. We would not want McRick to waste away (GD&R). Here's Brad brewing up a joke. You heard about the Panda and the ...? Don't think we spent all day sitting on patios. The next day we were climbing the highest mountain in Ireland (first cycling, then hiking), and it is steep enough that you definitely would not want to miss your footing.
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We are at Galway bay, looking back towards the south shore and trying to pick out the route we had just travelled. Nobody is fresh or perky, except that Brad and Dave could do a century before sundown. We rate the B&B's we stayed at. Some had awesome views, some had more than filling breakfasts, and all had the warmest of welcomes.
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Fun with tires. Yes, this was a planned stop, and we changed four tires in snappy time. Rick's knobby tires got mailed home the second day, because they would be more suited to riding in Oregon. Rick was a bundle of energy, so he did not mind the drag, but we were whining too much about the noise.
This page was last modified September, 1997 by Rick Leir. Thanks to Helen and McRick for the great pics.

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