15 July 2012

Day fourteen

Rudely awakened at 0700 by the proliferation of midges eating my face. I was too warm in my bivvy bag to shut them all the way out so I just got up. Light misting rain, too. I picked my campsite well tho' and stayed dry under trees and brush.

Breakfast of rice boiled on my camp stove--I was very careful this time to keep it steady or stay well away from it--and cold ham from the conbini. (Centra? Gala? One of those.) I also boiled water and made tea which was nice since I didn't have any yesterday. Aaaaaand of course I just spilled the rest of my tea all over the place. Damn. At least I got two cups out of it first. I almost wanted to cry for a second there, like I did when the hostel in Galway told me everywhere was full, but what's the point? Easy to be zen and all "what happens happens" when what's happening is wonderful, fortunate things. But I want to be that way about all things. I do enjoy camping, too. The sleep is no less comfortable than on the beds the hostels give you. And I don't mind official campsites, either, as long as there are trees and not just patches of grass.

Aww, a guy here gave me a piece of bacon and two boiled eggs! Thank you guy! He tried to give me bread and milk too... I appreciate the tho't anyway. Always feel bad when I can't take it :/

Mild stomach troubles off and on for the past few days. Know I got a touch of poison somewhere but it's not enough to keep me down. Leisurely breakfasting morning today since I got up early. Haha there are midgey bites all over my face...

Coastal road west from Spiddal seems to be dangerous for cyclists. I got razzed by like six cars in a row when keeping leftish like usual so I took the middle of the lane and held it for safety's sake. I've been trained to feel like a jerk for doing that but the arseholes who pass me leaving like an inch to spare force my hand. I saw a lot of racing cyclists going the opposite direction on that road. Club cycle? I did pull over and let cars behind me pass on slow winding uphills or when there were really long unbroken streams of oncoming traffic. But dang that stretch of road seemed to have a lot of close-passing jerks on it.

Right before Casla I pulled over for a rest, crawled over a tangle of morning glories, and sunned myself on a rock like a lizard. After I got going again, still got razzed a lot, if I ever drifted from the centre of my lane, until I took a left along the sea toward Cashel.

From that turn I was deep in Connemara. This is brown, wind-scraped, rent asunder Ireland. This is Ireland's Wild West, and to be honest it feels like being in Colorado again: I bet I could take a picture of those mountains in the distance and pass them off as the Rockies. It's Colorado but with tidal lakes, people driving on the left, and signs in Irish.

Went off the R340 to take an inland shortcut, and the traffic dwindled to a trickle. The best cycling roads in this country are the little yellow ones on this map that aren't on most driving maps. Often the only sounds I could hear were the wind, the crickets, the whirr of my derailleur and my tyres against the road. Well, and me singing 'cause I do that a lot. Usually songs I make up as I go along. I've been working on one in particular for a while now but only have the chorus and one verse worked out so far.

No food, shops, or anything really for miles and miles. Joined the R342 for a spell, then took another small road shortcut, skipping Roundstone etc. Passed a lot of racing and touring cyclists going opposite way. Wind in my face for most of the day; guess they were on to something. The sea kept turning up in surprising places, too. I guess I don't expect to see it in such a Colorado-like landscape.

Rolled into Clifden just after five due to my early start this morning (eleven or so). Town seemed cute, nestled in a green wooded valley right on the glimmering waters of Clifden bay. I went into the hostel on the main drag to ask about staying two nights... But not only would I have to change beds each night to do so--something about the attitude of the lady in charge put me way off. Like she's the kind of person I'd rather never have to deal with... Felt like I needed to apologise for trying to do business with her. Since this passive-aggressively hostile environment is not conducive to a rest day, I left and pushed on another 11 kms to Letterfrack. Spent a lot of the time trying to calm down because of the things about Clifden that made me irrationally angry. There were a few stiff climbs coming out of there, and the sun randomly decided to turn up the temperature, but there were nice downhills also, reasonable traffic, and woods and trees again. Irish Colorado is stunning, but not my favourite kind of cycling really.

I ended up in the Old Monastery Hostel in Letterfrack, chosen because I had such a nice time at the Old Convent Hostel in Castletownbere. So far I think it's loads better than the one I left behind. The atmosphere, the aura of the place is positive. Building delightfully quirky. Guy didn't even want money up front, says I can pay at breakfast tomorrow. I'm glad I am where I am for my rest day. And I wouldn't be here if full-up Galway hadn't shunted me onward to Spiddal, cutting 20 kms off today's cycle and affording me the energy to escape Clifden.

I have no idea what I'm going to do in this town tomorrow besides sleep in and grocery shop. It's hard to believe I'm halfway thru this cycling adventure. My tour de Ireland. Was gonna grocery shop tonight but I guess I'm lucky 'cause right after I got settled inside it started seriously raining. Can't keep my eyes open very well right now...


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