Route: Magherafelt — Ballymena — Derry — Letterkenny — Dunfanaghy — Ardara — Donegal town — Sligo — Inniscrone
For those with limited free time on their hands, here’s a quick summary of the following blog post:
- When looking at a map of Ireland, the yellow roads have lots of traffic while the white roads have no traffic but plenty of steep hills!
- A steep climb is usually well worth the view.
- Simon: 2 flat tires, 1 bee sting
- Olivia: Stung by nettles 3 times, now knows what they look like…
- All Irish beef is grass-fed 😀
- Wild camping is easier to find in Peru than Ireland – go figure!
It’s been a little over two months since our last blog post! We spent most of that time off the bikes, visiting friends and family. Driving, sleeping in a bed, access to a full wardrobe of clothes…oh, the luxuries of home! I’ll admit, I wasn’t 100% ready to give it up again so soon, but the pull of seeing/experiencing more of Ireland was strong!
On Friday July 25th we set off from Simon’s mum’s house in Magherafelt to Ballymena (hometown of Liam Neeson) where we stayed with Neil and Karen. Our original plan was to leave their place the next day, but we decided to enjoy the comforts of home for one last day. Friends, 5k run, cinema…they made it difficult to leave!
Sunday we jumped on a train to Derry, and somehow wandered onto the National cycle network path. Not only did the cycle route take us out of the city on a quiet path, but it connected us to route 1, which goes through the entire county of Donegal! It didn’t take long for us to realize why the country roads are free of traffic. The constant hills are equivalent to giant speed bumps. Our calluses will be re-formed and quad muscles bulging in no time.
Wild camping in Ireland has already proven to be trickier than we anticipated. The ground is uneven, boggy and even in the country there seems to always be a house within sight. The first night we spent over an hour looking for a secluded cluster of trees. The second night, we thought it would be wise to cycle to the top of “horn head” for a camp spot, which we discovered is more of a mountain than hill. Another night we asked a property owner if we could pitch our tent on their land, which will most likely happen again.
On our third night camping, Simon asked me to inspect his cycle short area for rawness. Instead, I found a tick!