Finding Peace in Achill, Ireland
Immediately after landing in Dublin, we hopped in our Space Tourer and headed out to the West Coast.
After a day of acclimation in Westport, we drove out to Mulranny. Just East of Achill Island and right on the Greenway Trail, Mulranny was the perfect jumping-off point for our ride out to Achill Sound.
44km of completely off-road riding was right at the doorstep of our hotel. With Adrian on her Neutrino, and me on a rented Giant hybrid (with only 2 working gears - the salty and damp atmosphere does wonders to bikes) towing the kiddo, we set off.
In our experience touring the West Coast of Ireland (this is our second trip there with bikes), one thing you’ll need to know about the weather in Ireland is that it will rain. Sprinkles, drops, and mist is the major extent of daily rain. At night it can pour, but during the day, bring a rain jacket or waterproof shell and accept you’re going to get rained on.
And with that rain, the landscape is lush, green, and vibrant. We took our trip during the flowering of the Rhododendron bushes that line the scenery and segmented maze of stone walls and fences that (mostly) keep in sheep and livestock. We also got used to making way for families of brightly marked sheep roaming the countryside.
The trail is easily navigated with directional signs at intersections and the terrain is crushed gravel. You could absolutely ride the trail with a skinny tired road bike, but leave your deep-section wheels at home or you’ll be steering a sailboat with the constant wind - only the lucky ones get to have headwinds both ways.
At the end of the trail in Achill Sound you do have to get on the road for a mile or so, but drivers are courteous and give plenty of room for passing. Make sure to stop at Kate’s Cafe for a refueling stop before heading back.
We love off-road trails. Rail trails, gravel, canal paths, you name it. If it’s offroad, we’re down. After years of road riding and touring, we’re pretty much through with sharing roads with cars. I don’t want to go too in depth into the problems we have today with distracted and/or drunk drivers but it is becoming increasingly evident that separating cyclists with even a curb is the way to go. Sharrows aren’t enough. Bucolic countryside trails far from even the sound of cars are ideal.
While we weren’t shredding the gnar, shralping, braapping, or enduring a sufferfest, we did have a chance to clear our heads, travel, and enjoy the ride. Sometimes the most memorable rides are the ones where you are enjoying the ride for the places you visit, relationships you grow, and the unique experiences shared.
No matter how you ride, you’re awesome. But do take time for the chill rides - those are an important part of your journey.
Are those Al Pacas? Heck yes they are and we walked them on the beach. I couldn't NOT include this picture.
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I must agree with Frank (above). We toured Ireland in 2018, and had no problems with aggressive or distracted drivers. If you want to travel with your bikes, sharing the road is the only option, otherwise you will spend more time in your driving to trailheads.
“After years of road riding and touring, we’re pretty much through with sharing roads with cars. … separating cyclists with even a curb is the way to go. Sharrows aren’t enough.”
I’m sorry, but I hate to read this fear mongering. If we wait until roads are separated with a curb (or more) to ride our bikes, we may as well melt them down right now. No more than a tiny percentage of roads will ever have physical separation, and those roads that do have such features often have serious problems at intersections. That’s where most car-bike crashes happen, and “separation” complicates intersections, often surprising cyclists and motorists.
In my experience riding in 47 U.S. states, in Ireland and in about ten other countries, most roads are fine for riding and most motorists are cooperative. Please don’t scare people into giving up their rights to the road.
What an amazing experience! I guess the little kid can’t wait to ride his own bike along mom and pop. I wonder if a Neutrino can be ridden by a youngster by using a swept-back handlebar and shorter cranks.
The rhododendron are certainly beautiful, they’re also an invasive ecological disaster for Ireland.
Awesome! Can’t wait to post about our Neutrinos! Love!
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