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Pamela's first visit to Ireland

by Pamela Blalock with commentary from John Bayley in blue


How this all came about

The most common question we were asked on our tour was why - why had we chosen late November to go bicycle touring around the southwest of Ireland. My response was if we waited for good weather in Ireland, I might never get to visit! The real reason was I had a few days off for Thanksgiving and airfare was cheap, and I really wanted to see John again, regardless of weather.

John and I met two years before when he came to America to do BMB, a 750 miles ride in less than 90 hours. The next year we both coincidentally signed up to do the same PAC Tour a cross-USA bike tour. A bit of romance began during that trip. We continued it through email and phone calls and then planned another vacation together.

While we both considered PAC Tour a vacation, most of our friends and family thought we were nuts. PAC Tour averaged 140 miles per day for three weeks. We rose before dawn, ate, rode, ate, slept, then started again. My trip to Ireland was to really a vacation. We slept in every morning - rarely starting before 10AM. We averaged about 70 miles a day, with a long day of 97 miles and a short day of 34 miles, both of which included a train ride. We ate great food and lots of it. I had a beer every night. I ate lots of chocolates and pastries and breads and soups and smoked salmon and crab claws and sandwiches... oops I'm getting carried away. Let's just say I ate a lot and the food was incredible. We stopped for lots of pictures. And we had a fabulous time. OK, it was a little chilly at times. I could have done without the gale force winds the last day. And a couple of the hills were a little steep, but this was a fabulous vacation.

The trip over was not as smooth as I'd have liked. I missed a connection, thanks to a flight attendant strike, and I wasn't the most relaxed when I arrived. I dumped all my travel woes on John when he met me at the airport, and to his credit he didn't run away screaming. The weather seemed a little unusual, it was quite sunny, but also quite cold, with the temperature hovering around freezing. Just the week before, John had referred to the weather as freezing in an email, but claimed he didn't mean it literally and no, I didn't need to bring really cold weather gear over. I'm glad I ignored that bit of advice.

John - Well, I thought it was very cold at the time, but heck, this is only Ireland and I always feel the cold. I know that Pamela regularly cycles in temperatures well below freezing during winter in the US. I just knew that she wouldn't have any difficulty in temperate Irish conditions. Daytime temperatures here only rarely approach freezing, and if they do, the chances are that the roads will be too icy to cycle.

John supplied the panniers, and after seeing his, I'm really glad we used them instead of mine. These were far superior (in waterproofness, etc.) to my 14 year old set of Cannondale panniers. He was quite gracious and took the front, giving me the more spacious rear ones. Although despite being much smaller, I think his still weighed more. Of course the maps did go into his bags.

For all you technical types out there, the panniers were the Carradice Super C model.

Speaking of maps, I had left everything up to John about where we were going. He sent over a couple of books and guides ahead of time for me to check out, but I thought it best to defer to my native tour guide. He suggested taking a train to the west coast, where the gulf stream would make things warmer.

to The Wicklow Mountains