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Photo by Jason DeVarennes

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Killarney to Phoenix B&B - Ireland 2016

After a great evening out with the brother and sister-in-law, we arose early the next morning to catch the train back to Killarney. Well early is relative. We had a late night, which seems to be the norm here. Then we had a three hour cruise, which fortunately ended at our intended destination! However by the time we had lunch in Killarney, it didn't make for the earliest of starts. We had booked a room at The Phoenix B&B just outside Castlemaine. It would be a short ride there, so I'd tentatively sketched out a bonus route to take in a couple of climbs after we checked in. In the end, it was late enough when we arrived that we decided to just head out and do the climb up towards Camp to earn our dinner, rather than the bigger loop and risk being too late for dinner.

The meal was among the best on the trip, so definitely not to be missed.  The Phoenix B&B is a vegetarian restaurant although they do have seafood. I definitely give it 4 stars, worthy of a detour or special trip!

 

 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Glengariff to Killarney - Ireland 2016

We arrived in Glengariff just as it was starting to rain. This rain was forecast to continue through the night and throughout the next day. We are in Ireland afterall! Despite the dire weather, this was one of my favorite days.

We had three big climbs planned. The first was over the Healy Pass. While all the tour buses headed down the main road along the coast, we'd get the climb this pass in peace. Healy Pass is one we had done on my first trip in 1993 and I had fond memories. It is a gorgeous climb on a tiny one lane wide road.
 
 

The battery in John's camera died and his spare battery decided not to work. At some point after descending Healy I handed over my RE. I'm not great at taking photos when climbing, or descending for that matter! And it wasn't like there was much to see! Still it was beautiful in its own way. So apologies for the lack of photos on Healy.

We reached the far side and I spotted a cafe/garden off to the left. Without saying a word, I turned up the drive. After 23 years together, I thought John would know! He turned around a minute later.we then had a nice road along the shore heading into Kenmare. From there, we would skip most of the craziness that is the Ring of Kerry, aiming for the quietest way across.

 

But first, hot soup and Paris Brest pastries would provide fuel for the upcoming climbs. The sun even poked out long enough to make outside dining possible, but it was only temporary.

 

The climb up to Moll's Gap was on a bigger road, but traffic wasn't bad, likely helped by the weather. But when we turned onto the Ring of Kerry road at the top, we were a bit shocked to be warned that oncoming vehicles might be in the middle of the road!

We were on this road for maybe half a kilometer, and I kid you not, we saw three giant buses. I'm certainly happy that all those folks aren't in separate cars, but I wouldn't mind smaller buses on these twisty mountain roads!
 
 

Fortunately, we turned off onto a tiny road down into the black valley, and didn't see another vehicle for ages.


 

I'm surprised my seat bag looks so full. I'm wearing most of my on-bike stuff here!

 

 

 

I can easily tell from the photos whether we were going up or down. As soon as the road pitched up, I warmed up and off came the gloves and jacket and arm warmers. This was the climb up the Gap of Dunloe. We'd missed this climb on our tour in 1993 when we broke a freewheel on the Ballaghisheen Pass and had to coast down into Kilorgin to buy a replacement. The road up the Gap of Dunloe was unpaved in those days, but now has a great surface. It was a joy to climb, but the descent has to be one of my all time favorites, both for the scenery and the swoopy road. 
 

 

And the weather made it all the better! A friend climbed it a few days later and complained of traffic, so maybe the weather helped with that too!

 

 

 

 

Lower down, we started seeing folks walking and then this horse and buggy. That was it for traffic!

We rolled into Killarney and found it completely packed. Oh right, Saturday night. We checked the train schedule and decided to take the train back to Dublin that evening, rather than search endlessly for accommodation in Killarney.

We had a great day in Dublin, and then joined Dave and Siobhan for the concert before taking the train back to Killarney Monday morning to resume our tour.


 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Glandore to Glengariff - Ireland 2016

Six months ago, John's brother, Dave, asked us if we'd like to join him and his new bride for a concert in Dublin a week after the wedding. Sure, we said. We'll just pop back to Dublin for the day.

Well as that day approached and we were making slow but steady progress winding our way along the nooks and crannies and over hill and dale,  I was trying to figure out how to get us to a train station. We could either do some loops around the south coast and head back to Cork, or we could take a more direct route north and get a train in Killarney. We had ridden out to Mizen head on my first trip here 23 years ago, and we had done parts of the Ring of Kerry on that same trip. Ring of Kerry is probably the busiest set of roads in Ireland in the summer, and therefore was not one we had even planned to ride, so it was easy to just bypass it on this occasion. And John really wanted to avoid the busy city of Cork as well, so we made the decision to aim for Killarney. 

 
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kinsale to Glandore - Ireland 2016

The plan had been to follow the Wild Atlantic Way and as such I'd loaded up routes from the Audax event held a few weeks ago. However we had heard some sections had lots of traffic, so I continued picking white roads, sometimes coinciding with the WAW, and sometimes because something else looked interesting.

It seems I, in my SadiB persona, had picked all the steepest roads, and even one trail.


Youghal to Kinsale - Ireland 2016

We left the popular seaside resort town of Youghal and headed toward Middleton where we found a great cafe with an awesome mid morning snack. This is one of the best parts of touring: eating anything you want, multiple times a day!

 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Y'all come back now - Ireland 2016

The flowers on this trip have been amazing. I've only been to Ireland in the summer once before. We often have come here during blackberry season... well at least when we haven't been here in November. So I'm used to seeing the hedges ful of delicious blackberries. I had no idea they were packed with fuchsia and foxglove as well. !

 

 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Coppertone Coast - Ireland 2016

 

No one is ever going to believe me about the weather here once viewing this post! 

After freezing to death at the wedding, I began to worry that I had seriously misjudged my clothing choices for the tour. I even began to wonder about having a few things mailed over! But then we got this day on the Copper Coast, or as I renamed it the Coppertone Coast. We left Carrick-on-Suir under cloudy skies, but found sunshine when we reached the coast in Tramore. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mount Leinster - Ireland 2016

Bright and early Sunday morning... Well sometime before noon actually, we packed up our bikes for the start of our proper tour. The loose plan was to make our way south to the coast and pick up the Wild Atlantic Way. Sadly, John only has three weeks, so we will see how far he gets. My plan is to go all the way to Donegal. Hopefully I'll make it there.

For the first day we decided to climb over the shoulder of Mt. Leinster and make our way south to Carrick-on-Suir. 

 
 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Castlecomer - Ireland 2016

So... it isn't November! Why is that significant, you ask. It seems that I keep coming to Ireland in November, which isn't quite the height of tourist season here for a very good reason. Despite saying that, I've had amazingly good luck with weather on those late autumn trips, right up until 2014. That year saw us trying to chase down some good weather on the west coast and failing miserably. I made a vow on some particularly wet cold and windy day that I would return to cycle the west coast up into Donegal, just not in November!


So it isn't November...


This year, John's baby brother, David, who was cycling with us on that cold, wet and windy trip in 2014, gave us the perfect excuse for a summer trip by scheduling his wedding on July 1, a date we believed to be in the summer, until we shivered our way through the reception, bundled up in every piece of warm clothing we had, plus a few more borrowed from the family!

I should know better. I've been in Ireland in the summer before and I think the difference between summer and winter temperatures is only about 10 degrees farhenheit. A good winter day can be nicer than a bad summer one. I'm not complaining, just offering up a bit of explanation for why most of the photos include leg warmers!

Monday, June 20, 2016

DROVES 2016

Dirt Roads of Vermont with Exceptional Scenery (DROVES) is our annual celebration of the beginning of summer. We head up to the Bike Barn in East Burke, VT and spend the weekend talking and laughing and cooking and cycling and sharing good wine and good beer. East Burke is well known for its mountain bike trails, but it is also in the middle of an amazing network of quiet scenic dirt roads.

Over the years, we have mapped out many challenging rides that help to whet our appetites and leave us primed for a good night of sleep, awaking refreshed and hungry and ready to do it all again.


Thanks to Cristine Lamoureux for the photos and slideshow from DROVES. BTW, you'll need a computer to view the slideshow. It won't play on your mobile device.



We had a couple of groups out on the road this year, with some opting for big climby rides, while others took on more modest distances.

Our friends also showed off their gourmet cooking skills, each seemingly trying to outdo the other. After dinner, a chain gang formed to clean up and wash dishes before the night owls gathered around the fire and told tall tales of cycling exploits-past.

Sadly it was over too soon. But before we headed home, we all made plans to meet as the same place and do it all again at the end of the summer. Looking forward to seeing everyone again at ANVILS - Ascending Northern Vermont in Late Summer.







Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sorry for the Interruption. Now we return you to normal programming!

It seems that I need to update to our about page to include some more recent history. A few weeks ago, someone posted a comment on the about page asking why I hadn't done any randonneuring events since 2014. Apparently this fellow must have blindly stumbled upon that page without reading any of the blog, because I feel like I keep repeating myself and it should be quite obvious why the word brevet hasn't been a regular part of my vocabulary lately. However, I promise to stop repeating myself right after this post!

Today I bring you the story of Pixie-Past, Pixie-Present and a preview of Pixie-Future!



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mother Nature is BiPolar and Off her Medication!

OK, I admit I stole that title from a meme I saw on Facebook! But I'm convinced it is true. The weather this year has been all over the place. In my last post on the Festive 500, I talked about having all the seasons in one week. We started out with mild temperatures where knees and elbows were exposed. Throughout the week it got colder, then it rained and finally it snowed. Well, this pattern has repeated itself throughout the winter and into spring. Over the past few months, we've had some amazingly mild days as well as a short spell of days below 0 Fahrenheit! BiPolar!


Monday, February 29, 2016

Festive 500 - 2015

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, one definition of déjà vu is "something overly or unpleasantly familiar."

I have really struggled to write about my recent Festive 500 experience, in part because I keep coming back to this idea of déjà vu.

Something overly or unpleasantly familiar, eh? 

Why does it seem like I've written this before? Is there a new twist? Is this really a different post? 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Time Flies

Light at the end of the tunnel - or is it another oncoming train? 

I started writing this post in October... Time got away from me!
 
John and I got up early on September 8, and walked the four miles down the Charles River Path from our house in Watertown to Mt Auburn Hospital. I knew I wouldn't be able to get much in the way of exercise in the coming days, so I wanted to squeeze in this one last walk.

Upon arrival, I checked into the surgical clinic where I had my killer boobs replaced with some tiny silicone ones. For those just tuning in, on March 24, I was diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer. Because HER2+ is such an aggressive breast cancer, I underwent 6 rounds of chemo and other targeted therapies (every three weeks) before surgery. I will continue receiving Herceptin, the miracle drug for treating HER2+ breast cancer, until March 3.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On the Path to Recovery

A while back, I published a blog entry where I challenged myself to a personal bik-a-thon, starting the day of the last chemo and ending the day of my surgery. I asked my friends and readers to make contributions to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, either by kilometer or as a set amount.

How did I do?  I rode every day except one, where I did get out for a walk. I logged 2924 kms with 41,219 meters of climbing! It's the climbing figure of which I am most proud. I didn't set any speed records and the folks who rode with me on my last long ride can absolutely confirm that. I did my best to wear myself out so the enforced rest and recovery time after surgery would be welcome. As a final kick, I walked to the hospital the morning of surgery.

Sorry this update has been so slow in being posted.