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  1. #1
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Ireland - What time of year? What area?

    My buddy and I are thinking of spending a couple of weeks touring Ireland. Waht time of year should I go? What is the best area? I'm not a huge fan of hills but a few aren't too bad along with rollers. I am also into sailing so a coastal are might be the thing.

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    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    I have read elsewhere people suggesting the spring or fall, due to there being fewer tourists and consequently fewer tour buses in many of the popular areas like the Ring of Kerry. It's also warmer in the spring or fall than the winter, and summer isn't exactly scorching. In other, less popular areas, you could cycle at the peak of summer and traffic wouldn't be a problem.

    Rain is always going to be a factor, so if you don't like the rain you won't be very happy.

    I have only cycled in Northern Ireland. If you don't like hills then don't cycle in County Down. Other parts are flatter I hear.

    There are sailing clubs everywhere, so you won't have to look far. Best ones seem to be in County Down, oddly enough.

    Good luck!

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    I like the period after the Aug bank holiday, into Sept. The major holiday season is winding down but all the hostels, B+B etc are still open. The weather can by warm, dry and sunny (as well as cool and wet). The countryside is still green and all the orange roadside flowers are in bloom.
    The bit I would like to see in spring is the Burren, the limestone region in Co Claire.
    I would suggest the SW western coastline from Cork around all the peninsulars to Connemara, taking some of the Arren Isles. Cork airport is good and there is a train at the end of your tour back to cork. You could get a budget airline ticket from another airport. See Ryanair.
    The coast is hillier than inland but much better cycling.

  4. #4
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. I would be interested in others chiming in too.

    So it is pretty much rainy any time of year?


    It is hillier at the coast than inland? How hill is the SW coast?

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    The most picturesque areas are hilly but worth it.

  6. #6
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayakado
    The most picturesque areas are hilly but worth it.
    So how hilly is hilly? I am from Western PA so I am used to some pretty big hills. One or two of the big ones is fine for a day ride but can't say I would want to deal with them every day for two weeks straight.

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    I don't recall anything as hilly as western PA anywhere I biked in Ireland. I think you'll be fine. I agree with Kayakado that the most picturesque areas are hilly and that they're worth it. These areas are generally in western Ireland. I thought the prettiest area was the Ring of Kerry area, including the Dingle peninsula and the Gap of Dunloe. It was touristy but lovely. The Burren was a strange and unusual landscape. As for rain, be prepared for it. Ireland had the worst weather I've encountered anywhere I've toured. There was some rain each and every day we were on our bikes. We were there in September, but locals said it rained all summer that year. It generally wasn't constant rain, though. I've never seen so many rainbows!

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl
    I don't recall anything as hilly as western PA anywhere I biked in Ireland. I think you'll be fine. I agree with Kayakado that the most picturesque areas are hilly and that they're worth it. These areas are generally in western Ireland. I thought the prettiest area was the Ring of Kerry area, including the Dingle peninsula and the Gap of Dunloe. It was touristy but lovely. The Burren was a strange and unusual landscape. As for rain, be prepared for it. Ireland had the worst weather I've encountered anywhere I've toured. There was some rain each and every day we were on our bikes. We were there in September, but locals said it rained all summer that year. It generally wasn't constant rain, though. I've never seen so many rainbows!
    Sounds like you have toured a lot? Can you suggest some other areas in Europe with better weather (maybe I sound create a new thread?)? I was thinking maybe Italy. But I guess a good number of hills there. I really want to avoid France not sure if they will have things under control next year, plus there are plenty of other countries that are more American friendly.

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    Sept is Ireland is pretty moderate, not bad at all. It won't get very cold although it may get damp. SW Ireland is still one of my fav cycling spots and I have been back three times.
    There are a couple of hills which take 20mins to climb but they are not particularly steep. There are plenty of short, sharp little hills but only 5 mins climbing.
    The problems in France are restricted to a few big city suburbs, not exactly prime cycling country.
    Italy in Sept can get cold and wet as well as warm and dry, esp in the Alpine regions.

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    Sounds like you have toured a lot? Can you suggest some other areas in Europe with better weather (maybe I sound create a new thread?)? I was thinking maybe Italy. But I guess a good number of hills there. I really want to avoid France not sure if they will have things under control next year, plus there are plenty of other countries that are more American friendly.
    I just want to point out that the weather I experienced in Ireland was extraordinarily wet, even for Ireland. I also toured once along the west coast of Scotland, which on average, is an even wetter place than Ireland. I had unbelievably warm & sunny weather in Scotland! If you have your heart set on Ireland, I don't want you to avoid it simply because I had lousy weather years ago.

    I may not be the best person to answer your question about other places, because my favorite country in europe for cycling is France. Like Michael said, the problems are restricted to city suburbs, not places you're likely to be touring through. They're diminishing anyway. My absolute favorite region is the Dordogne & Lot valley area (east of Bordeaux & north of Toulouse). Absolutely sublime. And the French love cyclists, including American cyclists.

    One very nice country in Europe for cycling is Denmark, though it's expensive. Most of the country has gently rolling hills, lovely countryside, a very bike friendly place. Weather can be a problem there, too, though on average, I think it tends to be drier than Ireland.

    What attributes are you looking for in a European touring destination?

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    I really haven't thought about "attributes" other than some place that is unique and beautiful. I have never been to Europe but I have seen films of Italy and Ireland and both look very beautiful. Many of the Italian towns are just fantastic.

    Though I have not toured at all in the US, but have visited a number of areas. Maybe I should consider the US?

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Don't be put off Ireland because of the rain! It's not like rain in the states. It is usually much lighter, more like fog you can see through. It's called "mizzle". You don't get as wet in it, and ten minutes later it's sunny.

    Quote Originally Posted by axolotl
    I just want to point out that the weather I experienced in Ireland was extraordinarily wet, even for Ireland.
    I am going to wager you were here in the summer of 2002!

  13. #13
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    Ireland was one of, if not the best, tours I've ever done. Here are a few comments:
    Time of year. I spent ten days there during the last week of May and first of June. Temps varied, but overall a little on the cool side. The advantage is that there are lots of open relatively inexpensive B&B's, and finding a room was never a problem. It may be a little more difficult during more touristy periods. Course, that was back in the day of the Irish Punt. Now they are on the Euro which may have drastically altered the costs of visiting the country considering the USD to Euro rate of exchange.

    Location. I toured the western portion of Ireland, sort of a Shannon Airport-Galway-Sligo route and returned by way of Westport-Clifden-Aran Islands-Shannon Airport. There were many highlights to this route, more than I can mention. Some of my favorites were Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Cong (John Wayne's THE QUIET MAN was filmed in Cong. Rent the movie and you will see a number of easily recognized landmarks), DEFINITELY the Aran Islands. The Dun Aengus cliff fort on Inishmore is amazing.

    Weather. It will rain. You just deal with it. It rained every day except one on my tour. Most of the rain was a heavy mist, but some days was a steady downpour. I was generally wet most of the time. However, it seldom rained all day. More of an on again, off again thing. Really, don't let the rain stop you. You get used to it. I'd recommend keeping your things in plastic bags, though.

    Hills. Yep, they have'em. But I am from a VERY flat area and hills traditionally intimidate me. Nevertheless, I managed the Irish hills very nicely and that was with full rear panniers. Some of the best scenery in Ireland will be in hilly areas. In fact, I rode right by the base of Croagh Patrick, the highest point in Ireland. I honestly believe that if I can handle the Irish hills, almost anyone else probably can.

    Odds and Ends. The Irish are some of the most outgoing, friendly people you will ever meet. They claim to speak English, but sometimes I couldn't help but wonder due to their thick accent. (I'm sure my southern accent was a challenge for them, too.) More than once I was greeted with this two question ice breaker - "What brings you to Ireland? Looking for family?" Just about all of them seemed to have a distant relative in the States.
    I was fortunate to spend some time in the pubs with the locals. Unfortunately, when I was there, the pubs were a haze of smoke that took one's breath away. However, I understand that they have recently outlawed smoking in pubs so it should be much more agreeable. A trip to Ireland is not complete without spending some time in a local pub.
    Feel free to pm me if you want more info or something more specific.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

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