Five months and 9700 kms after setting out from London on April 23 in an attempt to set a new world e-bike long distance record, the e-Bike Cycle Tourists have finally arrived in Ireland for a four week tour of the Green Isle.
After a much needed service for our Haibike Trekking e-bikes from Dublin-based Haibike dealer Greenear, we headed south along the east coast primed to see for ourselves the best of what Ireland has to offer.
With fine weather the order of the day for the first four days – contrary to the “good luck with the weather, it always rains in Ireland” advice we received from just about everyone we spoke to in England – the cycling has been easy and enjoyable.
While it is the west coast and the aptly named Wild Atlantic Way – a 2500km coastal route that stretches from Kinsale in the south west to County Donegal in the north – that we are really looking forward to cycling along, the east coast was far from an anti-climax.
The first thing to strike us apart from the amazing hospitality we have received from everyone we have met, has been the extraordinary light which seems to add intensity to everything, making the greens greener and the whites whiter. Such is the clarity of the air on a fine day that it is possible to see as far as it is possible to see, a fact that we have commented on time and time again.
At least that was for the first four days before the rain set in! Over the past two days it seems as though Ireland has been intent on teaching us a lesson for being so smug about the fantastic weather we enjoyed when we set off.
As such we have been hit with just about everything possible – pouring rain, howling headwinds, warm sunshine, drizzle and mist – and that was all within a couple of hours! As a result it has been difficult to know what to wear, with our wet weather gear and our normal cycling clothes being regularly swapped in between bursts of rain and warm sunshine.
Given that cycle touring is far from a mainstream activity in Ireland, the interest in our record attempt has been amazing. To say that we turn heads when we cycle into yet another village is an understatement indeed, with people waving, coming up to speak to us and generally showing great interest in our Haibike e-bikes and Tout Terrain trailers.
Such is the interest in the record attempt that morning chat host Alan Corcoran from South East Radio in Wexford did a live 15 minute on air interview, with the result that for the rest of the day we had people beeping their horns, waving and generally staring at us as we rode along.
The interview was not only a great opportunity to publicise everything that is great about e-bike cycle touring, but also to relive some of the amazing experiences we have had over the past few months.
The one question we get asked time and time again is what we think about cycling in Ireland – now there is a loaded question if ever there was one!
Given that Ireland’s cycling infrastructure is at best basic and that there are no designated cycling routes, the polite answer is that it is an ideal cycling destination – once you have worked out a suitable traffic free route – a near impossible situation.
Unfortunately our experience so far has been that regular thoroughfares – usually marked as ‘R’ or ‘Regional’ roads – are narrow and congested and that average speeds are high … not a good mix when you are trying to enjoy the scenery. We have also discovered that at times it is almost impossible not to have to cycle on major ‘N’ or ‘National’ highways, a rather disconcerting experience after months of following designated mostly traffic free cycle trails in Europe and the UK.
But despite all of the above we are enjoying the experience of cycle touring in Ireland and can’t wait to see more of this beautiful country.