AN UGLY BRIDGE TOO FAR:CYCLING TO ACHILL SOUND

ON THE GREENWAY

The next day, my pal Laura had planned for us to cycle part of the Great Western Greenway, a new cycle track that runs from Westport to Achill Sound. It was opened last year by, if I remember correctly, our otherwise useless Taoiseach. Check it out here, it’s BRILLIANT! http://greenway.ie/Trail-Map-01.html

The section we were planning on doing, Mulranny to Achill Sound, was 22km in all which seemed a little short to me so I suggested we maybe cycle around a mountain  or something but I got some sort of look that I couldn’t quite interpret so I didn’t push it.

MULRANNY

We drove to Mulranny from Connemara, a journey of 90 minutes or so. I had brought my bike with me and had checked the tyres before loading it on the carrier but by the time we got to Mulranny one of the tyres was completely flat. I got the pump out and had a go but of course the bike fell over and I managed to snap off the valve. Kudos Clarey.

Where there’s a will there’s a way and we found  young fella in a van who was hiring out bikes. He didn’t have an inner tube the right size, which is embarrassing for a young fella but we didn’t make a fuss about it 😉 . Instead I hired a bike from him and a couple of helmets because, shockingly, we had both forgotten ours. I have NEVER been on my bike without my helmet and I am always ranting about the scores of people who take their children helmetless out on our roads so even though we would be off-road for the most part I didn’t feel I could continue ranting if I had not worn a helmet. So I did. Where’s yours?

GOT YER HELMET?

It was an overcast day but a lovely cycle, very easy-going. Cycling is a lovely way to travel through the landscape, slow enough to enjoy everything, fast enough that the scenery is constantly changing. The path was clearly laid out and nearly all off road except for about 500 yards or so. There were a few cyclists on the track and some walkers but not too many as it was threatening to rain and everyone in this country seems to be under the impression that they are made of salt and will melt if they go out in it.

FOXGLOVES ON THE GREENWAY

We passed a family of four, the father all sergeant-like, waving us on directing us, so when we stopped for some snacks later and I saw them catching up, the part of me that hates anyone being in charge of me except me made me determined not to let him “win”. We hopped on our bikes, Laura rolling her eyes at me, me with my chin set.

Well, they kept up for the most part even though the youngest was only about 6 or 7 and they even gained on us on the steepest hill on the route. It was apparent, if not to Laura then at least to me, that my nemesis had realised what was at stake and was obviously cruelly whipping the boys on. Still, I will take victory where I can find it, even when it involves children, and you will be pleased to hear that the enemies efforts were for nought and your heroines won the day.

THERES ALWAYS SUNSHINE SOMEWHERE

I jumped off the bike at The Island Hotel( Óstán Oileán Acla)at Achill Sound and pretended I was there for ages when the family cycled by, the patriarch all red in the face, pretending he hadn’t lost anything. Laura for some reason didn’t seem as buzzed up by our victory, just rolled those big eyes of hers some more. Takes all sorts eh?

The last time I was in Achill Sound was two years ago and I lunched here at the Óstán Oileán Acla that time as well. I don’t remember the lunch being terrible before but it was this time. The sad, flat, square wrap had a small leaf(salad)sitting beside it just as a baby rabbit would sit defeated and quivering beside it’s newly knocked down mother. Expensive too.

MASSIVE(OCEAN RIDER on FLICKR)

I was more interested in the bridge across Achill Sound. It’s not a pretty bridge but it had been featured on the front of a tourist guide I picked up last time around which may be why, over two years, the bridge had transmogrified in my head into some massive ugly version of the Golden Gate in San Francisco or the suspension bridge in Bristol.

So I was little non-plussed to find that it was so small that you had to strain to see it. I am not normally given to dramatising things….really 😉 so I cannot explain this lapse and all I can do is take this opportunity to apologise to the people of Achill Sound and to everyone to whom I said “The bridge on Achill is MASSIVE and probably the most incredibly ugly thing I have EVER seen in my life!”It’s still not so pretty but, man, it’s tiny.

TINY

On the road back it began to rain which wasn’t so bad except that the wind came howling out of the east, an unusual occurrence and it made it seem that the way back was all uphill. My hire bike was a little too low for me and I fecked up a thigh muscle, the Rectus Femoris most likely, which sounds like it has something to do with my bum but it hasn’t. Not really. I hope. This leg, the right one is pretty wonky and has already suffered from plantar fascitis, exploding ligaments, achilles tendinitis, hamstringyitis, hipitis and anything else you’d care to mention. Gritting my teeth against the ache I couldn’t help but wonder at the ridiculousness of doing more than 22km in this weather and I decided that whoever had suggested that must be entirely mad.

EASTERLY WIND

I kept going though, with Laura sailing along beside(ahead of)me. On getting back to Mulranny I bought a bag of frozen peas to sit on my leg and I was fine by the time we got back to Renvyle though Lauras eyes, I think, were a little tired from all the rolling they were doing. She’d want to get that sorted so she continue making all that fabulous art…A lovely dinner of bacon, tatties and creamed spinach was waiting to which I added some softening peas. And there was wine too 🙂

THE WEST

NEXT: SEA WEED BATHS IN SLIGO

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