Hanging out at a pub in Kenmare, Ireland with a pint of Guinness and a piece of paper… I could hear the violin echoing through the streets and that’s what drew me in. It’s probably the toughest decision of the day here in Ireland, “Which pub do I go to?” This one in particular had a friendly family atmosphere that was certainly inviting. The violin, flute and guitar trad sounded amazing and provided the perfect environment to reflect on my trip thus far.
This trip is awesome for so many reasons. This past week I’ve spent travelling the countryside of Ireland with my Mom! It’s unique to get to have this kind of experience and I am super lucky to be able to do this. I convinced her to join me in Ireland for a week in celebration of her 6oth Birthday! How cool is that?! It has been quite a memorable adventure. Driving the narrow winding roads in a little stick shift mini car is gnarly. Especially because the steering wheel is on the right and you have to shift with your left hand. It took a little getting used to, but now I’m rallying with the best of ’em! (Irish folk drive FAST)
We spent the night in Gougane Barra, a hidden gem of Ireland that we never would have found if we hadn’t stopped in at a cafe along the way and started chatting with a local. He told us about this place down the road and compared it to the Grand Canyon of Ireland in terms of its beauty. When we arrived, I noticed that it was loaded with what looked to be sweet single track in some rugged mountains. The trails were gnarly (perfect) and there was absolutely zero mountain bike traffic. If fact, mountain biking as it is in Colorado, doesn’t really exist here. Nobody has ever seen a bike like mine ( fully rigid carbon single speed Niner) Needless to say I went for a sick ride!
The moss carpeted trees and the ancient stoney stairsets made for a killer ride. I had never ridden anything like it before. There were several narrow wooden foot bridges that my 710mm Niner carbon bars barely cleared. When I stopped to admire the moss covered stumps, I noticed the blankets of shamrocks poking thru the moss. The entire ride I was thinking about cyclocross in the back of my mind. At every stone stairset/hike-a-bike I took the opportunity to dismount and run. I can’t wait for cross! When I return to the States, I have a week before Cross Vegas and I still haven’t even built my cross bike.
The day before, we were in Youghal, pronounced Y’all. We ended up in Youghal after riding the trails in Ballyhoura all morning and checking out Kilfinnane, the town that is hosting the race and festival. The trails in the Ballyhoura mountains are where the Single Speed World Championships are being held. It is a legitimate mountain bike park, specifically designed with two wheels in mind and NO hikers allowed. Imagine that… Boulder! I suppose we have a fair number of these in the US but they are for downhillers only. This place is solely cross country. It’s rad. There isn’t a ton of climbing but it’s perfect single speed terrain. The wooden ladders are so fun and very different from anything I’ve ever seen. I’m really looking forward to racing here, but even more so, looking forward to my amazing girlfriend’s arrival on Saturday morning! We have a week long holiday planned throughout Ireland. I’ll try to post up another blog to let you know how the “race” goes although I suppose since it’s a single speed race it should be pretty rowdy and not too serious! It is going to be the perfect way to finish off my mountain bike season and transition into cyclocross.
The wooded sections were so dark. I’ve never seen a forest this dark. When you look to the side it is literally pitch black.
Some of you may not know, and rather than explaining it myself, here’s a link with all the details of the race itself http://www.sswc2011.ie/about/ ! It should definitely guarantee a good time for all!