this one was going along Loch Lomond, where I ended up spending one night
I have never done any camping in my life. When I was young I spent all my summers and holidays, as well as weekends and long weekends, in my village. And we had a place to stay there, so I never needed to sleep outdoors.
Only a few years ago, I bought a tent thinking that one day I would do a long touring trip. The time is here and I still don’t have much experience pitching my tent.
I didn’t know how I would manage, it was one of the main uncertainties I had about this trip, but so far I am managing.
I think I’m getting the hang of it, although I must admit that every day I realise that there was something I was doing wrong.
Yet, that’s what this adventure is all about, getting out of my comfort zone and learning new things all the time.
As I began my journey on a Wednesday, I’ll be posting my favourite photos this day of the week from now on.
I know it’s only been a few days, but I intend to write these reports every Sunday.
I left Cork early on Wednesday. It was drizzling all morning, as if Cork was sad and crying for my departure. I was also sad, but, at the same time, I was excited about what was coming.
I had cycled to Limerick, and back, several times before, so I took my time and covered the nearly 92km in just shy of five hours.
I wanted to make the most of the afternoon in Adare with my friend Gayle and her children. We spend the whole afternoon doing things, like going to the park, collecting sticks and tree crust for my fires, having dinner and playing uno. I also showed the boys the route I was planning to do on their map.
I left in the morning after a good and nutritious breakfast.
I want to avoid cities as much as I can, but I had to go through Limerick, which wasn’t too busy after all.
I met my first fellow touring cyclist right after leaving the city. It was nice to see another “crazy” person on the road. I know I’m not the only one doing this. I’m not special in any way, but it’s reassuring to see that other people have also embarked in an adventure on two wheels.
When I was approaching Nenagh, another cyclist, this one wearing all his racing gear and riding a fancy racer, stood by my side and recommended me to go to Garrykennedy. ‘There’s a beautiful small harbour from where you can see Lough Derby’ he said. So I took a detour and headed there (you can see some photos I took there on the video bellow.)
I wanted to get to Portumna because Gayle had told me there was a lovely forest by the lake. So, even though I had planned to start easy the first few days, I ended up cycling more than 122km today.
I found a quiet and hidden spot in the forest, just by the shore of the lake, and pitched my tent for the first time during this journey. I cooked some rice and ate it looking at the water. Then went to bed, actually, my sleeping bag.
I slept very well and woke up late. It’s a great feeling not having to set up the alarm and waking up whenever your body decides it has had enough sleep.
I met the first person who asked me where I’m coming from and where I’m going to. It was a young lad to whom I asked for water in a corner shop in Laurencetown.
Unfortunately, as I was eager to find some water and wasn’t probably paying enough attention to the signs, I missed a turn and ended up doing some 15 extra kilometres in a loop that took me back to the same town.
It had been raining in the morning and quite windy in the afternoon and I didn’t see the sun the whole day. So, when I arrived to Rosscommon and found a spot in the Castle Gardens, I had to change my clothes and hang my cycling gear to dry. I had bought several items of clothing made with Merino wool and I could feel the warmth the moment I put them on.
Once I pitched the tent and made sure it was hidden enough, I decided to go back to the town to buy some food. After dinner I relaxed and read for a while before going to sleep.
I started in the main road, but then took secondary roads as much as I could. I want to avoid heavy and fast traffic as much as possible.
I cycled besides a few lakes today. First, Lough Key, which had a cycle lane and a forest park with trails and bike lanes. Then, Lough Arrow, where I had a snack by the pier. Finally, in Sligo, Lough Gill, near the Regional Park where I stayed the night.
It was a good day on the bike, a few hills but not too hard. Except for scattered showers that forced me to changed clothes constantly and the side wind that made it a bit harder, which is why it took me nearly six hours to cover 106km.
I had a very silly morning today. First, I lost a sock and almost an overshoe while drying them on a wall. Then, a shower soaked me suddenly when I was almost ready to go. On top of all that, I didn’t seem to know which way to go and couldn’t find my way out of Sligo. So, I moved very slowly the first couple of hours.
Today I saw an EV1 sign for the first time and decided to follow the route. I had been doing a lot of research in the last couple of months about which way to go or what route to follow. I found out that there’s a network of cycling routes all around Europe called Eurovelo. That’s what I intend to follow most of the time. I’ll write more about it in a future post.
In spite of that, though, I decided to take a detour to see Glencar Waterfall and lake (pictures on the video bellow.)
After yet another shower, when I had just made 100km today, I stopped and asked for water in a petrol station. I stayed in a shelter for a while until the rain stopped.
A short while later, I found a small fenced area with hay bales stored and decided to camp there for the night. It took me a while to get the fire started, but managed in the end.
I’m going to spend many hours everyday on the road, obviously. I intend to follow certain routes that, mostly, are in secondary and country roads. Less busy and smaller / narrower roads, I hope. But I also hope to get the chance to cycle on dedicated cycle paths and greenways. As I discover them I’ll be sharing some of my favourites in this series of posts.
The last few weeks in Cork were very strange, even though my routine didn’t change too much. I was still working, as I had decided to stay in Ireland until all my contracts ended. I was living with my friends Aodhán and Liz, who so kindly offered their spare room to me when I had to leave my house. I kept meeting with my friends every week and cycling almost daily, as usual…
There was something different, though. I didn’t expect it at all, but it happened several times with different people and groups. We were saying goodbye and I was telling then about my plans and the adventure ahead of me.
Yet, they were not only saying goodbye. They kept telling me all this good things about me… Like, how I had supported, helped, encouraged them, or even inspired them. They kept thanking me for my patience, dedication, passion…
I’ve never liked being the centre of attention or the target of praise, so all those reunions, gatherings, even speeches, felt a bit uncomfortable, to be honest.
The problem is that I don’t even know how to react or what to say. I really appreciate those words and gestures, of course! I’m just not used to people talking about me in such a way. So, I usually only said thank you back, or little more.
Nevertheless, I wanted to say something in reply to all those compliments:
First, that I still feel overwhelmed by all those kind words and gestures. I keep thinking of conversations and people while I pedal.
Second, that it makes me very happy to know I helped other people to be more independent and confident, or simply by supporting them and encouraging them to do their best. It just makes my day knowing that I managed to share an idea or skill with someone.
Third, that all I did these years in Cork, whether work or volunteering, was an absolute pleasure. I always looked forward to every single day, knowing that it would be different and challenging, but also enjoyable.
I’d like to believe that, hopefully, I contributed to making the world a better place for some people. The same people who made me feel so happy and loved these last few weeks.
I had never felt so loved by so many people in my life before. And that’s something I will never forget.
So, all I can say is:
thank you Cork, you and your people will always be in my heart