Archive for May, 2008

Bike to Work Week

May 14, 2008

We’re smack dab in the middle of Bike to Work Week. As always, the week starts with a pancake breakfast at College Green Park. I cancelled my Dog Walk and instead rolled out of bed to see if I could help with the breakfast. It’s hard for me to get psyched about bike riding because the weather’s still unseasonably cool. Yesterday’s stormy forecast and the fact I had to take the car in easily talked me out of hopping on the old Trek. Today, though, there are no excuses. The forecast today is for sun and, best of all, it’s the Mayor’s Ride! At 5:15 bikers meet near the IC City Hall and, led by our mayor, ride to the Coralville Coop where we get dinner and music! Last year’s mayor’s ride was my second-ever tandem ride and the ease with which we slipped up the Foster Road hill convinced me we were RAGBRAI material!

Here’s a link to Iowa CIty’s Bike to Work Week. Love the logo…


Headin’ Home

May 8, 2008

April 17-18: When Dear Readers last left us, we had just taken the ferry to Rossaveal, instead of Doolin. North wind was blowing strong and Anne was still exhausted from the day before! Caught a bus to Galway, which let us off at the bus station on Eyre Square. Larry found the lovely Skeffington Arms Hotel for our last night. The Red Rocket got its own room and we were able to make arrangements for an early breakfast so we could catch the 8:10 am bus to Shannon Airport. We returned to McDonagh’s on Quay Street (“Key”) for fish. Here we’ve trashed that nice room.

Still, the next morning we got to Shannon in plenty of time,

along the way saw my namesake business at a Spar grocery store,

and packed up the bike for home. Ready for take-off, Captain!

That’s an account of Anne and Larry’s Excellent Bike Tour. Stay tuned for our next adventure–we’re thinking of tandeming again, this time on the Tour of the Mississippi River Valley! Check it out:

See you on the road!!

On Inishmore

May 8, 2008

April 16-17: Arriving on the late afternoon ferry from Rossaveel, we toddled around the picturesque bay to the Kilronen Hostel, which you can see from the pier. The Italian manager was very sweet and said that since he didn’t mix girls and boys we could rent a room above the kitchen (2 bunks and a single) with the bath right down the hall (only shared with one other room). We’d heard a complaint about late-night noise filtering up from the kitchen but Mario assured us that he locked up the kitchen at 11:30 pm and we weren’t directly over the kitchen. The wind howled all night but we were quite cozy thanks to a space heater from Mario.

We were too exhausted and it was too late to do anything but look for a place to eat dinner. Ended up a the lovely place, the name of which I forgot to write down in my book! Anne had fish pie and Larry enjoyed fajitas. Then it was back to the room to sleep off the day!

The next day we found out that the morning ferry to Doolin had been cancelled but that the 4:30 was still on. Still windy, we tootled around the island a bit. Ate lunch on the north side of the island, protected by the ubiquitous stone walls! We also spent a fair amount of time at a small cafe drinking coffee and warming up with homemade soup.

Returning that afternoon to the tourist office, we discovered that the second (and final) ferry to Doolin was cancelled. Since we were flying out the next day, we really needed to get to the mainland. Turning to Larry, I said in my best accent, “Mr. Fitzpatrick, we’re foooked!” That got a laugh and then the clerk told us that there was still a ferry to Rossaveal that afternoon. So, rather than sailing to Doolin, taking a side trip to check out the Cliffs of Moher and then riding to Ennis, we sailed back to Rossaveal and took the bus to Galway.

Our Day of Days

May 7, 2008

April 16: Before leaving lovely Letterfrack, Dear Readers, I have to mention the awesome breakfast served each morning at the Old Monastery Hostel by Steven, the owner. Steven opens the door to the dining room promptly at 9 am and guests come in for porridge (cooked oatmeal), fresh-baked breads and coffee or tea. Most of the younger people didn’t seem to go for the porridge but it’s a filling and delicious meal for bike touring! After cooking our breakfast, Steven and his staff sit at the table by the window, with Steven toiling over a hot laptop noting future reservations and other hostel business. He keeps an eye peeled for infractions, the most serious being the use of the porridge bowl for bread. He WILL pop up from his chair, take the bowl right out of your hands and carry it into the kitchen. The plates at the table are for bread and don’t you forget it!

That was the weirdest thing about Steven and Gang. He runs an awesome hostel. He is an old hippie who has done his share of bike touring and other adventure travel. He also cooks vegetarian dinners and apparently has a restaurant down in Clifden.

Now, Dear Reader, what about the Day of Infamy? Let’s start with a picture. This is me, sometime in the afternoon, huddled against a pile of peat bricks that had been cut out of the ground nearby. We were headed to Rossaveal to catch the ferry to the Aran Islands and had just spent hours fighting head- and side- winds and this was the only shelter we could find for a refueling stop. How did we get there, you ask? After breakfast and packing we hit the road, retracing our path for a few Ks on N59 to R344 south. We stopped for lunch in Recess, after which we headed a couple of Ks west to R340. At some point we turned due east on R342, a deserted, wind-swept godforsaken part of the world. This makes it look kind of pretty, doesn’t it?

Okay, so it was scenic. It was also brutally windy. We fought the winds every direction we turned. The bike was never upright. Larry seemed to enjoy himself, bellowing loudly against the elements. I, however, just hunkered down and pedaled. It occasionally occurred to me that it might feel satisfying to have a tantrum but I didn’t have the mental or physical fortitude! It was such a relief to get to Rossaveal and take the ferry (on fairly choppy seas) to Inishmoor, the largest of the Aran Islands, where we stayed the night.

Letterfrack Day 2

May 6, 2008

April 15: Another full day in Letterfrack–or thereabouts! We packed up some food in one pannier and rode to Cleggen to take the ferry to Inish Bofin, a small, undeveloped island off the Connemara coast. The day was perfect, sunny and (almost) warm. We rode the 11K to Cleggen easily, passing farms and saw a new foal with his mama in the field. We loaded up the bike on the old ferry and sailed away! We landed about 30 minutes later in a sort of grubby but very busy port “town.”

There was construction going on to build a new seawall and there was a a shiny new hotel up the road. Since we were there in the off season it’s hard to gauge whether the island was a tourist attraction or the residents are optimists.

This next shot shows how steep a couple of the roads were. This is straight up from the ferry and Larry suspects it was a horsecart path that just got paved over.

Following us off the ferry was a group of woman from Wisconsin (several generations of the same family) one of whom was heard to exclaim almost immediately, “When we get back I’m going to kill the guy in the hotel for recommending this place.”

Here’s what we found on the other side of the island. Wow!

There was a beach.

And a baby lamb was keeping an eye on us.

On the way back to the hostel we stopped at the Bard’s Den for fish and chips.

Tomorrow’s post: A Day That Shall Live in Infamy!