Monday, 19 July 2010
Climb every mountain....I did it!
My two good schoolfriends, Dorinda and Carolyn, wanted to do something different to celebrate our "rather big" birthdays this year! Nothing easy or relaxing, no, they twisted my arm into cycling round Cork for a week. Never one to refuse a challenge, I'd always wanted to visit Ireland. However, about six miles on a bike in a day was my limit.
I managed to clock up about one hundred and fifty miles in six days - about twenty five a day, plus all the extra bits where we either got lost or followed the signposts (which are all wrong!). Dorinda is an intrepid adventurer and she designed the trip, but didn't realize that Irish maps tend to show the pubs but not the road numbers...... oh, well, we got back didn't we (and drnak lots of Guiness too!)? No accidents to report, only beautiful scenery, lots of very barky dogs, and astounded looking cows (they obviously don't see many humans in the course of their day)and a wonderful Irish breakfast every day to keep us moving!
We stayed at completely unknown and diverse B and Bs each night, varying from large welcoming farmhouses, through to sadly worn little dives which seemed to have got stuck in the 1970s. On our first night, we climbed a very steep mountain to get to a desolate spot, and decided in advance we would rather forego supper than have to climb down and back up again before sleep. How fortunate we were that our delightful landlady, Mary, of Findus Farm, Kilnamartyra, provided freshly backed scones and tea on our arrival. I'm sure they were the best scones I have ever tasted!
The low spot of our week was probably Thursday evening when we were searching out another B and B farmhouse at Kilkgren, near Clonakilty. The fine, mist-like rain, turned to huge drops and gradually soaked us. We were standing on top of Bare Mountain, or so it seemed, poring over the sodden map, water dripping down every available little nook or cranny in our clothing, the wind blowing wildly across us, and not one motorist in the entire region knew how to find Springfield House. Fortunately, another dear landlady, Maureen, came out in her car to guide us and allowed us to drip all over her gorgeous Georgian farmhouse. What a relief!
Those hills were very frequent, and you could never predict how much longer you would be going up and round a bend before the wonderful moment when you reached the peak and could stop panting and just let go....wheeee down again!!! An Irish cycling holiday is full of uncertainty, with as many peaks as troughs, and you never know what you will find round the next corner. A grand reflection of life itself, uplifting and enriching in every changing moment of travel. And with a gel saddle cover and lined biking shorts, I didn't even get to Akin' Bum!