Cycle Ireland Day 3: Clonakilty to Skibbereen

Today the Wild Atlantic Way lived up to its name. We had strong blustery winds, bouts of rain, and hills steep enough to make me swear. Even so, it was a great day that will leave us with wonderful memories.

As soon as we headed out the door of our hotel we got lost. Doh! We had to backtrack to get onto the WAW route that would ultimately take us to Skibbereen. This was an inauspicious beginning to a day we knew was going to be harder than the mileage and climbing would indicate. Winds were predicted at 20+ miles/hour and would be mostly head or side winds. If you don’t remember how I feel about winds, I encourage you to reread Hell on Wheels: Hills, Heat and Headwinds.  Thankfully, the rain wasn’t constant. But it was hard enough that we had to periodically don our ponchos. With the gusty winds, they were a nuisance to ride in and sometimes dangerous when they’d flip up in our faces. The plus side is that the sound of our flapping ponchos scared the heck out of cows who always bolted as we got close.

Click on the image below to see rain poncho fun

Today’s ride took us right up and along the coast and we passed several beautiful sandy beaches that, two months from now, will be crowded with swimmers and sun bathers. Today, unspoiled by the smell of sun screen, they were reminders of how beautiful the magnificent Irish coastline has been since geologic forces created this island.

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The highlight of the day was stopping at Cloch-Cheacal Agus Carin (“Dromber Stone Circle” for those of us who don’t speak Gaelic, or “The Druid Circle” if you’re local). The 17 standing stones, arranged in a circle and aligned with the solstices, stand on a rocky terrace overlooking the sea. The site also contains a fulacth-fia cooking hut with a 70 gallon water trough. Put heated stones into it and it takes only 18 minutes to make the water boil.

Or maybe the highlight was the group of miniature horses!

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In Ireland, of course, they drive on the “other side” (some of us would say, the “wrong side”) of the road. I continue to struggle with this. My bike’s mirror, which is bound to the left side of my handlebars (by handlebar tape), is useless. We haven’t been able to find a second handlebar mirror, but one shop did have a wrist-based cyclist’s mirror. It’s taken me a few days of experimentation to figure out how to use it. I’ve tried various angles and positions on my wrist and arm and have finally settled on something that sort of works, though it requires me to lift my hand almost level with my shoulder and take my eyes off the road to get just the right angle. By the way, in case you’re wondering, Dick Tracy never answers, Scotty won’t beam me up, and I’m all out of rouge.


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