30 June, 2016

Bicycle Touring Ireland's Coast

by Igor and Adrian

Ireland's West Coast has some of the most breath-taking views imaginable, one of the major reasons it is often the backdrop of epic films and TV shows. In terms of cycling, it is a challenging mix of steep climbing, perilous descents, crosswinds, headwinds, narrow lanes, and constantly overcast and unpredictable skies - but each challenge is consistently and equally rewarded with stunning vistas, friendly towns, and intriguing wildlife. 

Our plan was to arrive in Dublin, stay with friends a couple days for a tour of the city, train to Cork, ride to Westport, then train back to Dublin. Due to traffic controller strikes at the Iceland airport, we were forced to shave 2 days off our trip. No biggie, we made the best of the time we were stuck in Iceland by riding a different kind of steed.
Finally we made it to Dublin, unpacked, got caffeinated, and explored the city by cycle.

The next morning, we jumped on the train and hopped off at Cork. How could we not stop at the Butter Museum? We also climbed up St. Anne's Tower to ring the bells and gain a terrific viewpoint.

Apparently, we accidentally rode over some of the highest peaks in Ireland. There is a distinct lack of switchbacks out on these roads.
After visiting the Blarney Castle and House, we continued to the Dingle Peninsula. Inch Beach is a spectacular beach, extending off the main land and flanked by a cliffside to the North and mountain views across the ocean inlet.
Ballybunion is a small seaside town with golfing as the overwhelmingly popular sport. We skipped golf and moseyed on down to the beach and cliffside walk. But first a snack.

Pro-tip: Clip your helmet inside the tent for more storage space.
Hopping back on the bikes, we headed up to the Cliffs of Moher. It was a rather tough but short climb by bike, but we were in good company and in fact accidentally joined the paceline of a large cycling event.
From there we ferried to the first of a string of tiny islands accessible only by ferry or small aircraft. We loaded our bikes onto the ferry for Inisheer just as the weather began to kick into high gear.
Shipwrecks were explored.
Galway on through Westport was a great wind-down complete with the only tailwinds of the trip, and afforded us the opportunity to see such local recreation as urban fly fishing and a hurling match. The route was perfect, the people friendly, and the riders extremely satisfied. We will definitely return for more riding in the Emerald Isle.

Here's a quick summary of Igor's carry:
-55cm Campeur
-46/30 50.4 crankset
-11-30 cassette, 10 speed
-Dia-Compe friction shifters
-Campeur Front rack
-Velo Transit Panniers
-Grand Cru Handlebar bag
-REI Half Dome 2 Tent
-Big Agnes Fish Hawk sleeping bag and sleeping pad
-Lightweight inflatable pillow

and Adrian's:
-49cm 26" Campeur
-48/34 Drillium crankset
-11-32 cassette, 9 speed
-Shimano 9 speed indexed bar-end shifters
-Campeur Front rack
-Ortleib Panniers
-Grand Cru Handlebar bag
-Big Agnes Roxy Anne sleeping bag and sleeping pad
-Lightweight inflatable pillow

Do you have an upcoming tour? Where would you want to go?


Andy in Germany said...

Point one: I covet the black tourer on the top of the post.

Why the big bags on the front? I'm sure there's a good reason but I've not come across it before.

Me and my Xtracycle have done a lot of day tours around southern Germany and it's long past due for another one, but college and other issues have intervened...

VeloOrange said...

@andy in germany

The Campeur is designed with a front load bias so steering is neutral as the weight is loaded up. In addition, more weight over the front wheel makes keeping straight much easier during high crosswinds. Also, it looks cool.


Anonymous said...

After my saddle bag's Velcro wore a hole in my shorts and tried to do the same to my thigh, I swapped it for a small bar bag on my Pass Hunter. It's only a kilo or so, but the bike seems happier that way.

teamdarb said...

Yep, just came from Florida to Maine. Then got a text the other day a friend is coming to D.C. and wants to ride north. He wants me to ride along. So I've just turned around from Burlington, VT and rode along the lake to jump on the Erie Canal on my way back to meet him in D.C.. Then we'll bikepack from DC to maybe New Hampshire.... The hard way. My bike is a NOS Panasonic MC4500, 50/44/28 with custom 7 speed 15-32. It's a half step combo. So mainly riding in the 44 on road loaded. The 28 is for off road loaded. The 50 is for the streets and different tire combo. After NH or wherever we end, I'll ride back down the coast to meet another friend to ride the TNGA route. Gosh, life is so hard.

VeloOrange said...


Tough life for sure! That's a heck of a trip. Are you posting on any social media to follow along?


teamdarb said...

You can either Google "Teamdarb" or find via Facebook under the same name. I'm do random post of photos and blah blah. Nothing in detail or scale of those internet famous journal cyclist. Anyone looking for adventure beyond the C&O/GAP should look at riding the abandoned rail tracks from Pitts to Buffalo. You'll find info searching Buffalo Rochester & Pittsburg Railway (BR&P).

peddalhead said...

So who was riding the Pass Hunter?

VeloOrange said...


That's a friend's who lives in Dublin. He and his fiancee were gracious enough to host us and give us a fantastic cycle tour of the city.


Mr. Drew said...

I just finished riding my Campeur from Pittsburgh to DC on the GAP and C&O Towpath.

Dave Feldman said...

Catch any live music? I hear there's a lot in Ireland if you like Celtic at all.

Chasseur does Cols said...

Using panniers on the back wags the dog (bike) with each steering correction. Up front stabilizes the steering. I rode up and down (50mph+) Superbagnères in the Pyrénées like this. Ctazy steep switchbacks. Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly champions this.