Following Anna McNuff's inspirational cycle across America, a cycle from Portsmouth to Galway seemed less than impressive. However, this was a challenge enough for me and the Marin Gestalt!! After never having ridden with panniers, I thought what better Mammoth Journey could I treat myself too this summer by cycling to a friends house in Ireland.
Day one started off with a hilly 115km through the lovely South Downs. Laden with 10kg worth of gear the Gestalt stood up to the test of an touring bike by carrying me plus the weighty bags. Rolling over into the Ridgeway into Oxfordshire and 5hrs in I get my first (and only!) puncture. Well, what I thought was an inner tube puncture turned out to be a split of the tyre. Luckily for me I wasn’t too far from the guys at Mountain Mania cycles in Didcot where I slowly limped in and they were more than happy to help me out. Needless to say, when I arrived to my home stay that night I was very much in need of some food and replenish the lost electrolytes with some amber ale.
Onwards North from here through the beautiful Cotswolds, through a very hectic Birmingham which then opened up to the stunning views in Cannock Chase. Who would have thought this stunning part of the UK was tucked up there in the Midlands between Stafford and Rugeley? But for the whole 2 hrs riding across the trails in Cannock Chase I saw only saw one other cyclist and two walkers, it was stunning and it felt like you were in the middle of nowhere (probably because I was!). The Thule Shield handlebar bag was a godsend on this route. Having access to my phone and food on the move, allowed me to speed up my already slow days whilst plodding along and enjoying the scenery. It also ensured that all my important documents were secure in the front handlebar bag without having to worry about it digging them out from my pannier bags.
Day four of seven saw following the national cycle network route 5 from Stoke-on-Trent to Liverpool, where I happened to stumble across a Brazilica festival – bright, big and bushy was the theme of the festival and it certainly showed its colours. Meeting some of the locals down at the pub certainly showed how passionate they were about their city and what makes Liverpool such a great night out. Then next day, with a little ferry mishap, off I went early doors on the Liverpool to Ireland ferry to start my Irish leg of the trip. Good friends were waiting for me at the port and off we went for a hearty meal and a few Guinness to celebrate the end of the first leg.
Cycling in Ireland in summer brings its challenges, especially when going west. Dublin to Tipperary was always going to be tough getting out of big city, but once into the countryside it was much more pleasant riding. Castle ruins and quaint, friendly cafes were order of the day as coffee and cake was obligatory as on any cyclist agenda. It was only on the 7th and final day that the clouds opened and the wet weather gear came out. Again, this was where I was again incredibly grateful for our waterproof Thule Shield handlebar and Shield seat bags that I had with me. No matter how bad the rain got these bags were sturdy and solid without letting any water in – exactly what you want from waterproof bags.
The final leg saw me leave Tipperary to the windy west coast of Galway. The last day was tough due to the weather, but was nice to get a glimpse of the Wild Atlantic Way in the last 15km’s made it all the more special – just another excuse to come back for another cycle trip. So after 7 days riding, 708km covered, 4754m of elevation, 10,171 calories burnt my England to Irish cycle came to an end. The Mammoth Journey I had set myself to cycle solo to another country was made all the more pleasant with the comfortable Gestalt and the reliable Thule gear. So thank you to our sponsors who make all of our Journeys comfortable and easy with their reliable and well made products.