COGBRAI Day 4 - Someplace North of Galway IE

9 AM

I haven't a clue where we are biking today, but team captain Jason said it is someplace north of Galway IE. On paper, we are going to bike about 40 miles but with TEAM CRAZY BIRD...who knows? It is also supposed to rain on and off all day, which makes me want to use the Irish colloquialism "gobshite," even though that is probably out of context.

I slept horribly last night. Bad insomnia with no apparent cause. This is unusual for me, as I usually sleep quite well. I got up at 8 AM in hopes of securing coffee, at a minimum, and optimally some breakfast. I brewed some instant coffee available in the rental apartment kitchenette.

At 8:30, teammate Amy stopped by our room and she and I went in search of quick eats. As impatient as I was due to lack of sleep, I grabbed a breakfast sandwich at the first place I saw, a fast food joint called Supermac's, which I assume is the Irish equivalent of McDonalds. Amy went farther afield and found some miniature oranges and yogurt. I bummed an orange from her later on the rental bus, so at least I got some fruit.

We had to meet the bus at 9 in front of the apartment building to shuttle to the starting location for biking. Everything went to plan in that regard because Jason told everyone the bus was leaving promptly at 9:15 AM, when in reality it was leaving at 9:30-ish. So our notoriously tardy teammates were ready about 9:25. Close enough.

10 AM

Mostly unloading bikes at the ride start (still unknown), ablutions, and pumping tires outside of some kind of country hotel. There is a noisy well drilling rig operating in the parking lot. Loud.

11 AM to 6 PM

Biking was fairly pleasant at first. We biked relatively traffic free country roads and ended up in Cong IE, where we had lunch and pints of Irish ale, after a brief stop at Castle Ashford to check it out. The castle looks cool and made for a good TEAM CRAZY BIRD picture, but it is actually now just a ritzy hotel associated with a golf course (blech!).

During lunch it started to rain. So Leg 2 of the ride after lunch was an entirely different experience altogether from the morning ride (Leg 1). We road through a valley between some scenic hills that were channeling a stiff headwind right at us, in addition to the fairly heavy rain. I was prepared for such conditions, but it was a brutal challenge none the less and fell into the "this sucks" category.

In addition, the rental bike I was riding developed a warped back wheel and I had to switch the bike out for a different one. Luckily there were extras on the trailer attached to the bus. Side note: When I changed out my bike, we discovered that someone or something had damaged several of the bikes on the rack. Several of them had bent rims as if extreme force had been applied to them laterally. We think a vandal is to blame but it may have been struck by something while it was parked. Our new driver Phillip is sure nothing swiped the trailer while he was navigating the treacherously narrow Irish roadways. So no one knows.

New bike notwithstanding, the wind and rain still challenged me and a fairly long hill was added to the brutal mix. Eventually though, we got to change directions and had a tailwind for the final stretch into Leenane IE. The rain let up as well. Most of us, myself included, had packed dry clothes in the van pre-ride, which we changed into in the Leenane Hotel bathrooms (pronounced "bah troom" in Irish) before retiring to the Leenane Hotel Pub for pints and banter.

The hotels and gas stations here don't seem to mind non-customers using their bathrooms. The Irish are very non-douchy that way. By the same token, most bathrooms are crappy. Water taps are outdated and the hand dryers rarely work.

I had a beef burger with cheese (i.e., an Irish cheeseburger) to tide me over until dinner in Galway in the evening, between which and Leenane lies a rather tedious drive on said roads of great treacherousness.

7 PM

Bus ride. Uneventful but for a quick beer run and extreme tardiness returning to Galway. Irish bus drivers are almost as wildly optimistic about how long it takes to get places and do things as is our teammate Trent.

When teammate Jason 2 fell asleep on the bus, Trent tried some shenanigans on him. See pics below.

8 to 10 PM

TEAM CRAZY BIRD got back to our rental apartment about 8:10 PM and we all showered as fast as we could to try to make it to McDonagh's, a fish and chips joint that Amy had heard served the best fish and chips, before they closed at 9 PM. Turns out they closed at 11 PM, so we hustled unnecessarily. But it was still decent fish and chips. McDonagh's would qualify as a Bud's of Galway - low cost, lots of food.

After fish dinner, we walked up the car free main drag and retired to the infamous Murphy's Bar for some pints.

There a plan was (re)hatched to possibly hike from the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin IE tomorrow evening (7 km by foot). Trent had proposed this yesterday but there hadn't been time. There may well not be time tomorrow night either, since we plan to bike during the day and hike in the evening. TCB has this bad habit of stopping at too many pubs while we bike and while that is certainly fun, it really hurts out time.

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