I was truly
excited about planning my first trip to Ireland--an eighteen day
schedule that would involve a sampling of all the wonderful goodies
that the Emerald Isle has to offer. Included in my itinerary was
some independent solo cycling along meandering country lanes.
The good people at Celtic
Cycling (based in Ireland) agreed to be my hosts.
As it turned
out, the travel gods felt differently about my aspirations. Three
days before I was to begin my two wheel trekking, I hurt my knee.
Walking wasn't bad but peddling was out of the question. I called
Bill Passmore and Don Smith, co-owners of Celtic Cycling, explaining
my need to cancel. The conversation that ensued was my first hint
of how hospitable and helpful these people genuinely are. Bill
immediately offered to chauffeur me in his car. True, I wouldn't
have the ultimate experience of actually cycling in Ireland but
we would follow the company's routes and itinerary. It was an
offer I didn't want to refuse!
Lorum Old Rectory
was the beginning....
I was met in Dublin, then driven to the company's base in south
east Ireland. Lorum Old Rectory in County Carlow is both a working
farm and a bed and breakfast run by Bobbie and Don Smith. This
magical spot simply exuded country charm. Think about all the
Irish films you've ever seen-- sheep grazing on green rolling
hills, farm dogs lazing in the sun, low stone walls crisscrossing
the landscape --that's exactly what I saw from my bedroom window.
There was a half canopy over my bed, an en-suite bathroom, shutters
that kept out the early morning light and, in the a.m., a dining
room table absolutely groaning with home-baked goodies. There
was even cappuccino if I wanted it!
Everyone was briefed
before setting off....
I sat in on the pre-trip briefing for the "real" cyclists. Each
participant was given a set of laminated route maps and an "insider's"
resource booklet outlining the best sites, pubs, restaurants and
shops that could be visited along the way. Because Celtic Cycling
offers the freedom of an unescorted tour, daily itineraries of
different lengths and difficulty were suggested and discussed.
Based on interest and stamia, each person was free to choose their
own independent routes. However, like doting, protective parents,
Bill and Don gave each of their charges a telephone calling card
so that they could be in touch with headquarters should any emergency
I collected Irish
Yours truly, with my sore knee, was spoiled silly. Chauffeured
along narrow winding country roads, I was treated to the loveliest
sights--fields of the deepest, richest green imaginable, bright
yellow flowers, historic village pubs, Irish horses with gleaming
chestnut coats, crumbling castle ruins and bikes, bikes, bikes
Just as the
cyclists did, I picked the places I wanted to stop and collect
memories. I took the opportunity to walk along the water in the
summer sunshine and remember a swan swimming ahead of her seven
little cygnets. In the tiny village of Bennetsbridge, Irish pottery
was being crafted in a shop that was once an old mill. And close
by, at the charming Mill Cafe, both the bowl of seafood chowder
and friendly conversation were perfect nourishment for body and
soul. Further on, in historic Kilkenny, there were hand-knit Aran
sweaters to be bought and a fabulously furnished castle to tour.
In the evenings, a stop at a pub was generally rewarded with lively
fiddle music (great fun!). I drank a little Guinness, sampled
smoked salmon on brown soda bread, enjoyed mouth-watering lamb
roast and had to practice restraint (not fun at all!) when faced
with all the mouth-watering desserts.
Cyclists make excellent
At the end of each day, cyclists came together at pre-arranged
bed and breakfast stops. I was included in that arrangement as
well. My final (and most enjoyable evening) of the trip was at
Park View Deer Farm, a charming home at the end of a long country
road in County Wexford. This is where I met Danish cyclists Lisser
and Poul Larsen. Both teachers, both in their fifties, he--very
tall, she--rather short, and both most delightful company . I
was enthralled with these Danes -- their stamina and healthy good
looks, their day's cycling adventures and their lively sense of
humour. Over a hearty home-cooked meal, and plenty of wine, we
exchanged travel stories well into the evening.
I tried not to be
I must confess that I went to bed with mixed emotions that night.
Without a doubt, my experiences those few days in the Irish countryside
had been really wonderful. But, I was envious of the adventures
my dinner companions had had. I could only fantasize about how
satisfying that trip would have been by bicycle. And think of
all the calories burned in the process. With that kind of exercise,
there'd have been no end to the apple tarts, Porter cake, and
sticky buns I could have consumed at the end of the cycling day!
My only consolation? Perhaps the travel gods will be a little
kinder the next time round and my knee won't let me down. I need
to try again. I'm convinced that Ireland will look best from the
seat of a bike.
Interested in happily
burning calories in Ireland?
offers seven-night, unescorted cycling holidays in the
south east region of Ireland--land only from $715 per
person double (Canadian funds). Tour fee includes transfers
to and from Dublin, pre-arranged accommodation in bed
and breakfasts,luggage transfers between stopovers as
well as the use of top quality touring bicycles, safety
helmets, rain capes, water bottles, panniers and locks.
For further information
Woman to Woman Biking
mascara brushes are perfect for cleaning bicycle
long rides, panty liners provide extra padding
where its needed most.
up on sunscreen. You'll be outdoors all day,
every day, so take plenty. Don't count on buying extra
overseas. It can get very expensive. For example, a 600
ml bottle in France was priced at $40.
you plan on bringing your own bicycle with
you, check in advance with the airlines. Find out if there
is any extra cost to take a bike on the plane.Are their
rules for packing it? P.S. Remember to take the air out
of your tires to prevent them bursting in the airplane
a trial run. A couple of weeks before you leave
for your biking holiday, take a shakedown bike ride of
30-40 miles with full packs to determine the condition
of your bicycle under weight and stress. Learn how to
balance the added weight. Decide on what should be taken
out of your packs to make them lighter.
you feel tired get off your bicycle, sit down
and take a rest or walk slowly for a while. Don't extend
yourself, especially if you're not a regular cyclist.
a piece of paper that includes your blood type,
your name, any allergies and the name/phone number of
a contact person back home into your helmet. In case you're
in an accident (even if you're unconscious), this important
info will be immediately available.
rely on your telephone charge cards from home.
They don't always work when you're making local calls
in a foreign country. Always carry a telephone calling
card bought in the country you are visiting. Learn the
general emergency number so that you can get help immediately
should you need it.
The Woman's Mountain Bike and Tea Society
is a network of women of all ages and abilities who share
a passion for pedaling in the dirt. Check out their website
cyclettes! Look out for the mother of all "cycling"
websites! The InterNet Bicycling Hub offers 25,000 links
to bicycle related sites and more than 200 mailing lists
with 15,000+ subscribers. If its bicycling info you're
looking for, you'll find it here.
Take your pick, ladies!
Did you know?
Bicycling burns at least 500 calories per hour!
At the end of that hour you can eat the following and
never gain an ounce:
- 20 cups of cauliflower
- 20 large carrots
- 40 cucumbers
- one piece of chocolate cheese cake.
If you enjoyed reading this article about Ireland, may we suggest
that you try Super
Sleeps In Dublin as well.