For those of you interested in cycling the entire Wild Atlantic Way route there are loads of interesting ways to do it. Here’s the wrong way to do it:
“A little further”
“Fine. We’ll stop for two minutes, but only two minutes.”
This is not a conversation between a frazzled parent and two sulking children, but the conversation between me and my 27-year-old legs.
It’s day four of my ambitious cycle from Sligo to Cork and my legs were not enjoying themselves.
Day one was a train ride from Dublin to Sligo station and then an easy 60 kilometre stretch along the coast to Enniscrone. The sun was shining and Legs were delighted to show off what they were capable of, and my ten Euro speedometer said we hit 57km/hr on the hill out of Strandhill.
“We’ll probably be recruited for the Tour de France next year if you keep this up Legs” I told the pair of them.
We reached Enniscrone well ahead of schedule and myself and Legs found a lovely warm bed for the night. I gave Legs a good stretch and a warm down and ate a horrific amount of food and a lovely pint of Stout.
“It doesn’t get much better than this” I mused. Little did I realise quite how true that would prove to be.
Day two was the first real test. I was depending on Legs to bring me 104km to a hostel on Achill Island.
“We’re a little tired, but we did 60km yesterday, so it’ll be fine” said Legs, “What could possibly go wrong?”
Eight long hours later on Achill, just as Legs was about to give up on me, we found ourselves at the top of a long sweeping downhill road that would bring us to the door of our hostel. A sense of achievement swept through me and down to Legs.
“I like cycling” said Legs, and I was inclined to agree.
I was giving Legs a massage in the Hostel when I met another cyclist, also cycling the Wild Atlantic Way.
“You’re going from North to South? Most people go South-North because of the wind!”
“You’re an idiot” said Legs to me.
The next morning I discovered the problem with long, sweeping downhill roads. They tend to become long, steep uphill roads when you have to back. No sooner had myself and Legs mounted our bike, monsoon season seemed to hit Achill.
Struggling against the wind, rain and gradient, Legs muttered “I hate cycling”, and yet again I was inclined to agree.
When you’re cycling by yourself people tend to initiate conversations with you, usually to tell you that you’re mad or to comment on your cycling shorts.
“There’s not much room for modesty in them is there?” exclaimed Achill Man #1.
“I dunno, looks like there’s loads of room in there to me” quipped Achill Man #2
Over the first few days, I had become accustomed to seeing my speedometer resting above 20km/h. What I wasn’t accustomed to was 40km/h winds blowing into my face on day three. The only saving fact was that most of my journey was on the amazing Greenway Cycling Trail from Achill to Westport was wonderfully flat and devoid of cars. However, from Westport to the Clare Island Ferry was a different story.
“When the Tour de France comes looking for us, we’re going to have to tell them that we actually don’t like
cycling” I told Legs. They agreed wholeheartedly. Day three did eventually come to an end on Clare Island where I again doubted that I was on the way to the harbour on account of me still going uphill, and that I couldn’t see any water. Eventually, the ferry port came into view and we coasted down the hill.