Cycle Ireland Day 25: Cararroe BACK TO Galway

Today was a day of reversals, backtracking, and frustration. As we loaded up the bikes to start today’s ride, Joy noticed a dreaded wobble and squeak. She had another broken spoke! We unhooked her brake and rode two blocks to a cafe with WiFi so we could figure out a plan. We ultimately resigned ourselves to cycling back to Galway, rather than forwards to Carna, since every village we’ll pass for the rest of the trip is too small to sport a bike shop. Galway, on the other hand, has plenty. Sadly, as it’s Sunday, we won’t be able to get her spoke replaced (and wheel inspected) until tomorrow.

As Joy mentioned, the ride from Galway to Carraroe was utterly boring and without charm. Doing it in reverse did not add any interest. We’re making up for the lack of fun by staying in a swanky hotel in Galway: “The G.” I definitely felt under-dressed (in my cycling outfit) when walked into the lobby. On the plus side, our room came with complimentary cupcakes. Whoohoo!

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The “G” hotel in Galway

Irish Spring

Beautiful woman in the shower, holding up a green bar of soap:

Manly, yes, but I like it too.

No matter how popular that Proctor & Gamble commercial was, my parents were never convinced to buy a bar of Irish Spring. So I don’t know what P&G’s idea of an Irish Spring should smell like. After nearly four weeks of cycling through a real life Irish Spring, I’m inclined to describe it as “scentless.”

IMG_0121We’ve cycled 600 miles along Ireland’s Atlantic coast, often only tens of feet from the shore. You’d think we would be pretty tired of smelling that classic “salty beach/seaweed” smell that’s so common along both the US coasts. We’ve picked up whiffs of that scent a couple of times, but, Ireland’s coast hardly has any aroma at all. Why is that? They definitely have seaweed. In fact, for a lot of Ireland’s history, seaweed was an important source of fertilizer. Now it’s a trendy food source. But they’re not eating so much of it that the shore is seaweedless. Who knows? Whatever the reason, Ireland’s beaches smell nice and clean, if they smell at all.

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Squished hedgehog

The other “missing” smell, for which we’re grateful, is that pungent rotting carcass smell that’s so much a part of roadkill. It’s not that Irish roadkill doesn’t smell. It’s that we’ve rarely experienced that smell because there’s so *little* roadkill. We’ve spent a month cycling past flocks of sheep and cows, and nary a single smushed livestock. A handful of hedgehogs, a few kittens and a fox.  (In the US, particularly Utah and Nevada, we sometimes saw — and smelled — as many as ten dead, bloated cows or deer a day.) We believe the lack roadkill is partly due to the small size of flocks. I don’t think we’ve seen a flock of sheep with more than 50 animals. And no grouping of cows, horses or donkeys that was more than twenty.  Also, each farmer’s field is magnitudes smaller than big western ranches so livestock is easier to track and manage. 

Even wildflowers in Ireland provide a muted olfactory experience. Though we’ve seen lots of wildflowers and lots of flowers along the hedges, none of these is an aromatic flower. 

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Joy cycling past cloves set out to dry – Bali

Why am I so hung up by Ireland’s scentless experience? I am surprised how important smell is for memory. One of my favorite memories of cycling in Bali is the warm, rich smell of big sheets of cloves laid out to dry in the sun. When I think of our recent cycling in Spain I think of the fantastic aroma of huge orchards of lemon trees bursting into blossom. Each smell memory is so much more visceral than just a visual memory.

I’m fairly certain that the smelliest thing in Ireland is us at the end of a long cycling day.

Keeping Track of Where We Are

You can see our progress at: Joy and Tony’s Ireland Wild Atlantic Way 2017


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