20 July 2012
Bit of a late start today: Noon. Bought a small bottle of chain lube for squeaky chain before setting off... The endless rain makes it quite a necessity. That's prolly something I should've started out with in my kit.
Took the Mayo "Great Western" Greenway thru Newport as far as Mallaranny. It was chock full of cyclists enjoying the reasonable weather. Started out wooded and lovely, sides of the path awash in daisies. Slowly the trees dwindled away until I was passing thru sheep and cow fields. Rained on us for about twenty minutes, then cleared up. The path is very flat, since it was built on an old disused railway line, but the wind was in my face all day so I didn't get to go particularly fast. It's always nice, tho', to get out of traffic for a while and only have walkers and fellow cyclists to contend with.
My brakes started squealing something awful after I started off, and sure enough my back brake pads were worn down to almost nothing. Over 1000 kms of cycling in hilly and sometimes mountainous territory will do that to ya. In Mullaranny I found a cycle rental van and a kid who replaced my rear brake pads for €8 (that includes the pads themselves; if I'd've carried spares I'd've done it myself). The front ones aren't in perfect shape but they're not squealing yet.
In Mullaranny I left the Greenway and headed north on the N59 toward Bangor. Mountains to my right; sea to my left. Fisheries, the smell of salt and rotting ocean debris. Flat-bottomed clouds slid along a plate of invisible glass. North north into the wind, peat bog fields sliced into piles of turf, fields meant for burning and smoke. Stopped for tea at Cleary's in Ballycroy, and met some people outside who had passed me in a car back in Mullaranny and were impressed by my cycling all that way. Inside were several old Irish men drunk to the point it was hard to understand what they were saying. One kept telling others I was a nice girl; another kept shaking my hand. I couldn't stop laughing at them.
The road after Ballycroy was a bit lonely once it cut inland thru some piney woods, rolling hills guarded by silent, stoic trees. The mountains in the distance, which the map calls the Nephin Beg range, hulked under thick, roiling clouds, and looked of Mordor in their darkness. The sea, on the other hand, when visible, shone bright blue under cotton fluff.
Bangor is a cute farming town on the Owenmore river and I stopped for a snack there before pressing on via the R313. A few miles out I turned onto a little residential farm road by the Carrowmore lake for some of the calmest, most peaceful cycling yet. I just kept going straight on that road, crossing over the R314, Broad Haven opening up on my left, gentle cliffs, a lighthouse. The trip from Ballycroy onward today was one of my favourites. Hardly any traffic, varied scenery, oblique sunlight, ocean breezes.
About a mile from the hostel I was aiming for today, a guy standing in his door shouted hello and asked something, so I stopped, answered, and asked him how far the hostel was. He then offered me a drink, so I was like why not, I'm almost out of water so I'll get a bit more and keep going. After I was in his house, tho', I realised he's one of those old men that loneliness makes a bit weird. I don't think he was dangerous, but he started to creep me out, insisting I use the loo when I had the chance etc. I took like one mouthful of the flat 7 up he offered me, then made excuses and left. Which was good because I made it to the Kilcommon Lodge Holiday Hostel probably only ten or fifteen minutes before reception closed for the night.
This hostel is definitely the nicest I've stayed in thus far. The only thing hostel about it is the dorm style rooms and bathrooms down the hall. It's super clean and well stocked. Five stars. It's also practically empty at the moment, so I got a whole room to myself again, and I don't have go check out till noon-ish.
I'm kind of in the middle of nowhere farmtown so I don't even have cell phone reception, just hostel wifi. Hopefully I can post this in the morning.
Today was a pretty long day--about six hours in the saddle--but tomorrow will be shorter.