8.22.2015

COGBRAI Day 5 - Toolin' ta Doolin

Today was the last biking day of the CRAZY-BIRDS  ONE-TIME GREAT BIKE RIDE AROUND IRELAND (COGBRAI).

I got to sleep in a bit this morning, because we didn't need to roll out of here until 11:30 AM for biking. Unlike the previous night, I actually slept decently well.

My phone alarm went off at 9:30 AM. I pulled on the shorts I have been wearing most evenings and dug a clean T-shirt out of my suitcase.

"What are you thinking about for breakfast?" I asked team captain and my travel roommate Jason, who had also risen when my alarm sounded.

"I'd like to find something close," Jason answered.

"What are you looking for?" piped in teammate Brian, who had been eavesdropping from the hallway of the rental apartment in Galway.

"Eggs," I replied. "Lots and lots of eggs. I need protein."

About 10 AM, we left the apartment in search of grub and came upon a little outdoor cafe a couple blocks from the hotel that had a number of eggy options. Jason and I ordered omelettes with the works, which came with toast and coffee included (€10 with tip).

We got back to the apartment at 11 AM, with ample time to change into our bike clothes and prep for departure to today's biking location.

As today was the last day of biking on our Ireland trip, I wore my new TEAM CRAZY BIRD biking shorts and my remaining clean TCB jersey (broken zipper). I packed a backpack with a change of clean clothes in anticipation of arriving in Doolin IE at the end of our day's ride for the Doolin Craft Beer Fest, and also some hiking boots for a proposed and possible 7 km hike from the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin after riding bikes.

We started biking in some small town that might have been called Karran IE and immediately rode up a steep hill and down an even steeper one that had me white knuckled, clutching the brakes on a wet road barely wide enough for a single car. Eventually the inclines and widths of the roads improved and we started riding along the coast toward Doolin IE, stopping at a couple in between towns.

We stopped for lunch on the far side of Fanore IE and per TCB protocol, plans changed slightly. In order to hike the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin, we could not also finish out the bike ride to Doolin from Fanore. So we loaded the bikes on the trailer in Fanore and drove in the rental minivan to Doolin, dropped off the bikes and trailer, and then had the minivan take us to a drop off point just south of the Cliffs of Moher visitor center, to avoid paying the €3 fee charged by the visitor center charlatans to enter the trail there.

Unbeknownst to us though, this entrance just south of the visitor's center was fully 6+ kilometers south of the visitor's center. That added over an hour to our proposed hike, but we got to hike past Hag's Head, the only landmark I had actually read anything about in the Lonely Planet Ireland guide book someone (teammate Randall I think) had. Team captain Jason was worried this extra distance might overly foreshorten our drinking at the Doolin Craft Beer Fest, but teammate Trent and I (the cooler heads) prevailed. Our logic was sound. We could drink craft beer any time...but hiking the western Ireland coastline would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

This reasoning proved true.

Jason got worried the extra mileage would cause us to miss the craft beer fest, since we were on a deadline to meet the minivan driver, and he tried to bail when we reached the Cliffs of Moher visitor center, attempting to find a bus to Doolin. But none were to be had, so we pressed on. Wisely.

It was a fun run/walk. Great scenery. In addition to the cliffs and caves and North Atlantic surf, we saw a pod of dolphins in the bay near Doolin (truth be told, the sun reflecting off the water was in my eyes, so I could not see them, but Trent saw them and I believe him). The picture taking was the main obstacle to making good progress, but Jason decided to keep a constant pace and he was our pace keeper. So when we lagged behind, we had to jog a bit to catch up. I was wise to have brought a clean, dry shirt, because the one I was wearing got soaked pretty quick from exertion. By the same token, the southwest wind off the North Atlantic was quite brisk, when it wasn't blocked by bluffs. So over the course of our ~15 km hike, I went from fully jacketed with hoodie up to completely shirtless. I changed shirts when we got done.

In any event, all the trades worked out. We had an awesome hike and made it to the Doolin Craft Beer fest in ample time to enjoy some western Irish craft beers before we got picked up at 10 PM (10:30 Irish time) by the minivan to go back to Galway.

About half way back, the drive shaft dropped out of the vehicle and we hung out on the side of a dark, rural Irish roadway for about 45 minutes until a replacement vehicle came to our rescue. Some on the team considered hoofing it to a nearby town to look for a pub while we waited but by the time everyone had finished discussing the pros and cons of that plan, the bus had arrived. Probably good.

Back in Galway, we hit a pub near our rental apartment to round out our last night in Galway.

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