I pushed my bike across a narrow grate onto the ferry at Fishguard, handing over to two bearded, oil-stained workers tying down the bikes for the crossing. The sea was rough and angry making me nervous as someone who prefers be swimming in the ocean rather then rocking around on top of it. I scrambled to the deck as the rain started up again and the wind slid me back across the deck. It was a little sad to look back at England and the two months I’ve spent with my best friend on a loosely planned adventure.
I zoned out until England disappeared behind the fog and we were again crossing a channel or border into another country and unfortunately our last. Arriving late we found a B&B, rested, woke up to a full Irish breakfast then left with only an idea on our direction, but not our destination.
Ireland has lived up to it’s name. The countryside is gorgeous and we rode along the national road for a few hours until Keagan came to an abrupt halt. Looked at me with a sad little grin and said my least favorite phrase, “we are going the wrong way.” I held back my anger because I love getting lost most of the time. It's just that this time it was cold, windy, and absolutely perfect.
I found us a route through the country and we got a good feel for what Ireland had to offer. Since the clocks had been set back, it gets dark around 4:30, so come 1:00, as the rain and wind decided to drill us back the opposite direction we were heading, a dry place to stay was essential.
I rode through the rain leaning at a hard angle on my side as I pushed up the hill just to keep straight up. It was a constant battle against the direction of the wind that we definitely weren't winning. Besides the weather, the coastline was growing to become a complete different experience compared to before. The rolling hills cut in and out of beautiful cliffs surrounded by ruins of old churches and castles.
I couldn't help but smile as I rode throughout the day. Knowing that this was the last push in the tour, I was casually biking through stinging rain and howling wind, having the keep my head down to avoid the pain. I notice Keagan huddled next to the wall of a bar, so I join. We rush in, dry off next to a warm fire, pot of tea, good lunch, and were gifted a place to lay the sleeping bags for the night.
Hanging out around an Irish pub in a small town form 4-9 gave me a pretty good insight on the people coming in and out. A couple pints shared I met a truck driver who gave us directions for our next ride, then a fisherman who warned us about the weather and shunned us for not starting our journey in Ireland.
The truck driver trained me on the ins and outs of rugby because it was an essential piece of knowledge to have for around these parts.
I awoke the next day in the abandoned caravan we were giving the keys to for the night, freezing and in a haze primarily from the few pints of Guinness I had happily drank a the pub. All of that was fine. I packed the bike and realized where I was. The sun was shining as 20 crows dipped across the mildew strewn caravan as I rolled over to the beach to get a better look.
Throughout the day we rode with the sun past tiny fishing villages, old ruins and plenty of cows. I was killing my speed by stopping every 50 feet to take out my camera for another photo. I rode through the hangover, stopping for a full Irish breakfast of course. After a few pieces of bacon, an egg, two sausages, grilled tomato, beans, and some blood sausage get in me, I'm fueled up with enough energy to kick whatever else was poisoning my body and mood. My favorite part of it was having a slice of brown bread tucked away as a mid-ride snack. Having an Irish mother is a benefit when she has a generation tested authentic Irish Brown Bread recipe, so one bite of that and I'm back home.
I kept my own and let Keagan race ahead. The beauty of what was in front of me tied together, again, with the fact that it was all ending soon gave me a refueled appreciation for what I was doing. Just pedaling the bike through some gorgeous countryside on another beautiful day in this not-so-bad lifestyle.