I find that I can get myself distracted easily. A small road, distant house, herd of cows. While riding there are many things that seem to lead my attention away from my final destination. It has something to do with loving photography wanting to capture every little moment I see so that I can save and share what I experience.
Throughout the past 6 countries I did just that, stopping to take photos when I liked and still managed to keep a decent cadence and pace along with Keagan. This changed when I came to Ireland. Even with the sideways rain, the wind shoving me off the road, and a few inches of shoulder to ride on, I couldn’t really understand the landscape in front of me. Every turn and hill offered a new perspective that I was endlessly having to stop and take in what was happening around me. I could be sitting in a minuscule contained rain storm and 50 feet ahead, it’s dry with a rainbow caressing the ruins of a church.
My constant fascination with the countryside and coastline resulted in falling back a few miles from Keagan, who has the tendency to get in the zone, then nothing is stopping the machine. After going on a ride with Keagan and his Dad back home, and getting absolutely worked by trying to keep up, I’ve realized where Keagan gets his riding mentality.
Ireland has been living up to it’s infamous legend of being beautiful. We realized that having around a week here isn’t even close to enough time to experience this country and all it has to offer.
I kept along the Copper Coast, blessed with a few days of sunshine riding, I controlled myself by stopping only when it was essential to capture that moment. This ended up being every moment.
After leaving our lovely and frigid caravan, and devouring a full Irish breakfast, the ride to Dungarven was serene. I know my Irish Mother would be proud to know that I ate every piece of blood sausage on my plate. Despite her unpleasant stories of eating them every Sunday as a child, I really enjoy them.
Used to the easy coastline of Southern California, riding these hills where grassy fields rolled into jagged cliffs greeted by an always unruly sea, just made me happy. The wind always push some salty mist at me giving me an extra nudge to ride on.
At our own pace in Ireland, and knowing the direction we were going, I just rode knowing that Keagan would stop somewhere for a coffee soon. Just as I was about to get a little nervous that we have lost eachother I see just his bike perched against a brick wall on the driveway of a house. I stopped, and took my helmet off, scrathing my head doing a 360 trying to find him when a little girl standing on a porch yells at me to come inside.
I walk up to the house and find Keagan sitting in the kitchen with the nicest family I have met this trip. Keagan asked for some water, and we ended up with a pot of tea, sandwiches, fruit, yogurt, candy, and a lot of smiles. Shows what generosity is left in this world. People are genually awesome and open to help someone out, even a spandex clad American dripping sweat.
We left happy and full, stopping at a bar/hostel for the night. Quickly we jump down to the bar for a Guinness and that turns into a few whiskeys, then some new friends, great stories, and a good nights sleep. Well a good rest for me, because when I woke up a little hazy from the night before, yet happy, Keagan unfortunately didn't get any sleep. The reason was, even though I might be small and incapable of any force, I apparently sound like a 300 lb man with a really bad cold.
Another great Irish breakfast and a long ride to Cork, I was happy to grab a Guinness and make some more friends.
I am a friendly guy and I have a naive hope that everyone is friendly as well with good intentions. Two drunk fellows were talking to me and the idea of playing a game of pool came up. I said " hey, I'm no pro but I'll play." An older gentaleman, gold chain, faded snake and dagger tattoo on his arm, a clean pencil thin goattee, and a strange smirk set up the game and asked how I played. He realized I didn't know European rules much, but we got to talking, made him laugh with my travel stories and realized I made a friend. Through the middle of the game he put his arm around me, put on a similar smirk, chuckled and said, "Lad, I gotta be honest with ya, from the moment I asked you to play I just wanted to run ya for some money, but you're a nice lad, I'm not going to clean you out."
He hit my back, won the game, bought me a beer, then proceeded to run another tourist for 20 euros, giving me a smirk as he won. I guess being nice gets me somewhere sometimes. Then later in the night some other fella gets decked in the face by a vodka filled local and for some reason, being the muscular and strapping guy I am, I tried to help break it up, but then Keagan saved me from a bad story.
A brewery tour the next day, gave me a good look at the chemical process of beer even though I had no idea what the hell was going on and Keagan looked like a kid in a candy shop. His brewers mind was spinning trying to take some idea from the brewers chemist. A funny and jumpy Irish guy, he gave the three of us a good insight on their tradition, and I was just happy for the tasting at the end. As well as trying an ale that had been aged in old Jamenson Whiskey barrels. Straight heaven, and I went to bed with a smile.