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  1. #1
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    Ireland on my uh.. "hybrid"

    This July I'm flying into Ireland with a friend of mine for a month long tour to wherever the wind takes us so to speak. He has a Trek Xo1 and I'm riding a *gasp* GF Mullet. I've had it for about a year, and over the winter, when I was bored and had money to blow, I slapped on some drop bars for my commuting, and bar-end shifters. I also recently ordered some 1.5" marathons for the trip.

    We're likely as not flying into shannon. From there we head out, ninja-camping as we go. I have a guide to hostels, where we'll likely stop every once in awhile to clean up. For all I know we might end up staying in hostels more than that. We're incredibly flexible with our plans.

    Any anecdotes, tips, ideas, or cautions would be welcome. I've read a few threads on touring ireland and figured I'd throw my own out there to get some attention.

    Oddly enough, I never post on these forums because there's such a vast reservoir of knowledge just a search away.

    I was going to go with a solid front fork, but I don't think I'll have the extra cash before we head out
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  2. #2
    jon bon stovie
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    i lived in ireland for four months in 2002 and while i was there i rediscovered my love of biking. the countryside is really quite wonderfall to bike through.

    but the roads there really are terrible. there are few straight roads outside of citites. they they are not very wide, and tour buses still barrel down them. so always, be aware that a car or bus can come around the bend and there will not be much room to dodge them. be sure to bring plenty of spare tubes and a tire or two. bike shops aren't exactly easy to find in remote areas (of which there are many).

    the upside to biking on the roads there are that every driver of every single car, truck, bus, and even tractor will wave to you. if you break down, they will usually offer to give you assistance or a ride before you even think to ask them.

    good luck on your trip. hope you have plenty of rain gear!

  3. #3
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    I spent a month in Ireland a number of years ago, and it was great. Ninja camping wasn't a problem, even out in the open. As I recall, you coud stay at a hostel for half price if you camped. You got to use the shower and cooking amenities, so it seemed like a pretty good deal. Can't think of many cautions other than the rain gear. BTW, at the time, there was a lot of tension in Northern Ireland, but as a cyclist I never felt even remotely nervous as I cycled through "the six counties."
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

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    Timely thread: I too am headed for Ireland/Portugal and probably Spain and am concerned about taking my new Bianchi road bike for fear of it taking a beating. I have a Marin hybrid with cr-mo front fork, very comfortable bike that I have ridden 20-40 miles at a time. Given the condition of the rough roads, should I leave the Bianchi at home and take my hybrid? Also, do most of your "touring types" use panniers on both sides or just one? I was thinking one side and a small pack on handlebar and possible a small backpack. THoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimx200
    I was thinking one side and a small pack on handlebar and possible a small backpack. THoughts?

    I was getting more into hiking before I started considering a tour on a bike, and from that I got the urge to go as light as I can. There's also a budget issue with me, heh, but I'm going to try what you're talking about and likely use one pannier and a small 1900ci backpack I've got. That could all change really quickly when we order the panniers (getting ortlieb bike-packers) and load everything up for a test ride. I've never really done any touring either, heh

    I'm working on the assumption that I won't have to pack as much food as I have on stints to the appalachian trail, which should cut a lot of weight down. I generally travel with the clothes on my back and maybe a spare shirt, so clothing won't take up much room. The bulk will be my sleeping bag and bivy sack which can both pretty easily be strapped to the top of a rear rack.

    Guess I'll just have to see, heh

    As for rain gear, I've got a rain coat/parka shell that zips up and seals every opening, so my torso is set. I mostly just deal with the rest getting wet and then just wearing synthetic clothin that dries quickly and doesn't soak up too much water weight.

  6. #6
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Ireland is a marvelous place to tour. I did it a few years ago and it ranks among my most favorite rides ever. I can say nothing bad about it (well, perhaps the weather. During my trip, it rained at least some every day except one.) I didn't camp but stayed in hostels and inns every night. The Jamiaca Inn hostel at Six Mile Bridge near Shannon airport was an excellent stay. They stored my bike box while I was out on tour, and I stayed there my last two nights before flying home.
    If it's on your route, definitely stop at the Cliffs of Moher. The high cliffs at ocean's edge are inspiring and awesome. Try to spend some time on the Aran Islands as well, especially the cliffside Dun Aenghus fort on Inishmore. I visited them as a sort of last minute change of plan and it ended up being about the best part of my entire trip. Clifden is also a lovely town, as is Sligo. If you get a chance before your trip, watch the movie "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It was filmed in the Cong area. You will see plenty of recognizable landmarks from the movie, such as the ivy covered house and the old church tower.
    I did not think the roads were that bad. I think Ireland has a national 45 mph speed limit, so speeding traffic isn't much of a problem. Besides, the way the roads twist and turn it would be difficult to go any faster anyway. This benefits cyclists in that motorists have to be careful driving as they never know what may be around the next sharp turn, such as sheep or a slow vehicle. Definitely visit the pubs. Ireland recently passed a national law prohibiting smoking in pubs, but not sure how well it is enforced. (Wish they had that when I was there. It was really quite oppresive and I could never stay very long due to the smokey haze.)
    Expect lots of company. That was my favorite part of the trip. The Irish are some of the most outgoing and genuinely friendly people you will ever come across and they will be curious about your trip and if you have any Irish relatives. There will also be lots of other cycle tourists...and I mean LOTS. I met other Americans, English, Germans, Danes, Swiss, Dutch, Canadians, New Zealenders and Aussies......all on bikes.
    The only advice I would give is to ditch the backpack idea. Long days in the saddle will start to weigh on your shoulders and get very uncomfortable, not to mention the discomfort of the heat and sweat on your back beneath the backpack. A backpack will also cause you to lose a little stability due to the higher center of gravity. I strongly recommend using two rear panniers to take the load off your body and let the bike carry it. I can guarantee you will enjoy your trip much more that way.



    Quote Originally Posted by doorhammer
    I was getting more into hiking before I started considering a tour on a bike, and from that I got the urge to go as light as I can. There's also a budget issue with me, heh, but I'm going to try what you're talking about and likely use one pannier and a small 1900ci backpack I've got. That could all change really quickly when we order the panniers (getting ortlieb bike-packers) and load everything up for a test ride. I've never really done any touring either, heh

    I'm working on the assumption that I won't have to pack as much food as I have on stints to the appalachian trail, which should cut a lot of weight down. I generally travel with the clothes on my back and maybe a spare shirt, so clothing won't take up much room. The bulk will be my sleeping bag and bivy sack which can both pretty easily be strapped to the top of a rear rack.

    Guess I'll just have to see, heh

    As for rain gear, I've got a rain coat/parka shell that zips up and seals every opening, so my torso is set. I mostly just deal with the rest getting wet and then just wearing synthetic clothin that dries quickly and doesn't soak up too much water weight.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Two words for you:

    mudguards.


  8. #8
    Senior Member kbabin's Avatar
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    If you are going to Northern Ireland, check out this site.

    http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/cycling.aspx

    We used part of the 'Longshore Trail" close to Antrim on our tour a few years ago and it was a nice trail.

    Cheers,
    Kevin

  9. #9
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I've never toured Ireland, but I've done Britain a lot! I ditto the mudguards and agree that the backpack is a bad idea.

    I've always stealth camped, I'm not sure if that is the same as ninja camping as I don't know any ninjas to ask...

    If you are travelling on bike paths or canal tow paths, the wider tires on a hybrid would be helpful.

  10. #10
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    What month does Ireland get the least rain?

  11. #11
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    What month does Ireland get the least rain?
    This is for the MET Weather office:
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/.../rainfall.html

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    What month does Ireland get the least rain?
    The Irish met office says April or June depending on what area you're in: http://www.met.ie/climate/rainfall.asp . From having lived in Galway for 30 years I'd say the best months are usually May or September.

    I would also recommend mudguards, you will find puddles and manure on the roads even when it's not raining. Especially in the west, rain tends to be in the form of showers that last from a few minutes to half an hour or so, it rarely rains heavily all day but many days will be a mixture of showers and sunshine. Find a barn, tree or pub and wait a short while for the rain to stop.

    Better to stick to the regional roads (R-routes on the map) for cycling, the main routes between cities (N-routes) are often busy with fast moving traffic and often there is no hard shoulder. Buy a good map and plan your route to avoid the N routes where possible. The smaller roads also tend to be the more scenic routes. The more touristy areas like the Ring of Kerry will be full of tour buses during the summer, but other areas like the Burren and Connemara (both well worth visiting) are less congested.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the great information. I plan on figured out mud-guards next. It's probably the only thing left that I need to do to with the bike before the trip. I finally got my 1.5" marathon's in the mail and put on, so I should be able to go wherever I feel the urge when I get there. I've thought about buying a brooks saddle before I go since I just got an unexpected bonus from work... we'll see.

    I actually ended up ordering a PAC designs messenger bag awhile back that should be here soon. I'm taking that with me and a friend of mine and I are each using a single ortlieb backroller classic pannier. I packed basically everything I'm taking a few hours ago and I got it all into the single pannier, with my sleeping bag and thermarest on the side. All in all I have about 22'ish pounds of gear sans (of course) my bike and any food we'd be carrying.

    I still plan on taking the pac designs bag but as it stands I won't have anything that I *need* to load into it. I'll probably use it mostly to carry my camera and such whenever I get somewhere to walk around.

    I strapped my sleeping bag and thermarest to the side so I can lay the messenger bag across the rack if I want and strap it down. I'll probably bungee it or get some clips from the store to use to affix it. I haven't messed with it yet, but it's usually not hard to work out being able to secure something like that and still be able to remove it.

    Thanks for all the tips, suggestions and info. I'll get on those mud-guards and while I'm still taking a messenger bag, I plan on being able to leave it on the bike if I want to.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by doorhammer
    This July I'm flying into Ireland with a friend of mine for a month long tour to wherever the wind takes us so to speak. He has a Trek Xo1 and I'm riding a *gasp* GF Mullet. I've had it for about a year, and over the winter, when I was bored and had money to blow, I slapped on some drop bars for my commuting, and bar-end shifters. I also recently ordered some 1.5" marathons for the trip.

    We're likely as not flying into shannon. From there we head out, ninja-camping as we go. I have a guide to hostels, where we'll likely stop every once in awhile to clean up. For all I know we might end up staying in hostels more than that. We're incredibly flexible with our plans.

    Any anecdotes, tips, ideas, or cautions would be welcome. I've read a few threads on touring ireland and figured I'd throw my own out there to get some attention.

    Oddly enough, I never post on these forums because there's such a vast reservoir of knowledge just a search away.

    I was going to go with a solid front fork, but I don't think I'll have the extra cash before we head out
    I live in Ireland - a very good lock

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