In Memory Of Barbara Ann Dodds: Day 6 & 7

Day 6 - Strabane to Donegal via Killeter Forest

It was a sunny and hot day, with a beautiful blue sky, for the first four hours of my ride on day 6. I managed to go the "long way" as per my usual plan winding through country roads with no more traffic than the occasional tractor or farm dog chasing me. A few times I had to walk my bicycle through impassable muddy roadways as it had been raining heavily all week, which slowed me down but gave me a chance to take in the scenery.

The second half, closer to the Atlantic coast, was intense with about three hours of constant 30-50km/h wind, intermittent heavy rain and hail. During this time I was riding a very remote section of these parts through the Killeter forest and surrounding open bog lands, and I didn't see anybody for two hours. It was a truly awakening experience to realize "the weather sucks, nobody is coming if something happens, I am not prepared to camp, ride as fast as possible to get out of here before dark." It was a moment I've experienced before in the crazy/stupid moments back home when I would go snowshoeing alone when it was -30C. After after these moments, you feel most alive and spectacular when drinking that first Guinness at the end of the day.

Highlights:

  • The most challenging day physically and mentally

Observations:

  • The world is extra peaceful and quiet after experiencing intense winds for hours on end
Leaving Strabane

Leaving Strabane

Sunshine to start the day, woo!

Sunshine to start the day, woo!

Occasionally these signs helped me with way finding, mostly they showed me routes that were quiet where farm dogs would chase me, which was great! No cars!

Occasionally these signs helped me with way finding, mostly they showed me routes that were quiet where farm dogs would chase me, which was great! No cars!

Smooth sailing ahead

Smooth sailing ahead

Really rewarding to ride here as each hill you climb has a nice fast road back down

Really rewarding to ride here as each hill you climb has a nice fast road back down

Ireland is green

Ireland is green

The cows were too lazy to come greet me today

The cows were too lazy to come greet me today

Slogged through here for about 30 minutes on foot, and emerged muddy and happy. Surprised by how few insects there were out here to harass me.

Slogged through here for about 30 minutes on foot, and emerged muddy and happy. Surprised by how few insects there were out here to harass me.

Lots of rain from previous days made this an exciting waterfall

Lots of rain from previous days made this an exciting waterfall

I stopped in the Gortletteragh Wood for lunch and a rest. There was an interesting setup and interpretation of the stones there, and it was a very quiet place to relax for a short while.

I stopped in the Gortletteragh Wood for lunch and a rest. There was an interesting setup and interpretation of the stones there, and it was a very quiet place to relax for a short while.

Gortletteragh Wood wishing well...Yes, I did make a wish!

Gortletteragh Wood wishing well...Yes, I did make a wish!

Heading southwest after the town of Balleybofey meant riding directly into the wind for the next three hours, but it was still pretty though!

Heading southwest after the town of Balleybofey meant riding directly into the wind for the next three hours, but it was still pretty though!

There were many open bog lands with extreme wind, and when I stopped it was hard to keep still enough to take photos as I had to awkwardly balance my bicycle and myself from getting knocked over by the wind.

There were many open bog lands with extreme wind, and when I stopped it was hard to keep still enough to take photos as I had to awkwardly balance my bicycle and myself from getting knocked over by the wind.

EMBRACE THE BOG WINDS

EMBRACE THE BOG WINDS

It was amazing how few and far between people were in this place, very magical and spacious.

It was amazing how few and far between people were in this place, very magical and spacious.

I stopped because the sign told me to and there was a little break from the wind! Nice!

I stopped because the sign told me to and there was a little break from the wind! Nice!

After I got out of the open bog lands I entered a place called the Killeter Forest, it was amazing. The wind was still intense in this dense, dark forest. I went up to a high enough altitude in here that I was hailed on intermittently and it constantly rained in between.

After I got out of the open bog lands I entered a place called the Killeter Forest, it was amazing. The wind was still intense in this dense, dark forest. I went up to a high enough altitude in here that I was hailed on intermittently and it constantly rained in between.

I wish I had taken more photos in this forest, as these don't do it justice for how scary and challenging this place was on this particular day, but it was too damp to manage. Many winding, fast exciting roads like this one in the hail made it an extreme sport.

I wish I had taken more photos in this forest, as these don't do it justice for how scary and challenging this place was on this particular day, but it was too damp to manage. Many winding, fast exciting roads like this one in the hail made it an extreme sport.

Made it out of the forest to see the sun!

Made it out of the forest to see the sun!

Amazing bogs everywhere in these parts near Donegal, which would be my destination soon after this moment.

Amazing bogs everywhere in these parts near Donegal, which would be my destination soon after this moment.

Day 7 - Donegal to Sligo

This day, my goal was just making it to the train station in Sligo! This meant approximately five hours on the highway riding directly into a headwind the entire time. This was a busy road and riding in the shoulder of a highway was not my first choice, but it had to be done. 

Bicycle touring Ireland is like being in an action movie at times! I made it to the train with five minutes to spare, but not before:

Having a driver (also a cyclist who understood the headwind in the rain issue with a heavy bike) let me draft off of his van for a while. Then bought me a coffee, doughnut and water at a gas station.

Getting intensely rained on

Slowed and sped up by wind

Flat tire with 4 km to go

Eating an entire bag of Big League Chew

Swearing at cars, swearing at the weather, riding hard and enjoying life!

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are amazing places with amazing friendly people. The Guinness IS better here also! Cheers!

Highlights:

  • Repairing a flat tire in less than 5 minutes while rage chewing bubble gum
  • Kindness of the Irish people

Observations:

  • I will miss this place, it felt like home!
Windy rainy day to finish it off and once again remind me I am alive

Windy rainy day to finish it off and once again remind me I am alive

Guess which way the wind was blowing here...

Guess which way the wind was blowing here...

Riding on the main highways this entire day was more quick than the country roads but challenging mentally. Often there was a large shoulder, then at times it was reduced to a yellow line, but still retained a 100km/h speed limit for a few kilometers

Riding on the main highways this entire day was more quick than the country roads but challenging mentally. Often there was a large shoulder, then at times it was reduced to a yellow line, but still retained a 100km/h speed limit for a few kilometers

Made it with minutes to spare! I had trouble finding the station and asked some locals for help, they were excellent!

Made it with minutes to spare! I had trouble finding the station and asked some locals for help, they were excellent!

Rewarding to see this...

Rewarding to see this...

Each train has two bicycle spaces and I booked this one in advance.

Each train has two bicycle spaces and I booked this one in advance.

Woo!

Woo!

Train all to myself to begin with until we got closer to Dublin. It was very comfortable and I purchased coffee and food from a snack cart on board.

Train all to myself to begin with until we got closer to Dublin. It was very comfortable and I purchased coffee and food from a snack cart on board.

Sincere thanks for following my adventure in Ireland! Look forward to your comments or questions!

"Dance your way through life with happiness" was my mother's lesson. I think I managed to do this in Ireland, only on my bike. 

~ Brian