- Nancy Webb
Do you want to feel like a kid again? A cycling trip in Ireland will do just that!
Updated: Mar 12
There is something magical about Ireland. Indescribable shades of green, herds of sheep, friendly pubs, and quaint cottages with red front doors (to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.) Then there is the sweet and pure scent of Ireland, a combination of the smell of newly cut clover mingling with the salty, fresh air of the sea. Of course, I can’t forget the lovely Irish themselves, charming, friendly, witty, and who have never met a stranger.
I have traveled to Ireland twice, the first time in the passenger seat of a rental car and the other on a group cycling tour. Looking back, I remember the car trip as being in black and white, while the cycling trip was in glorious 3D Technicolor. I highly recommend visiting Ireland from the seat of a bicycle.
On my first cycling trip in Ireland, we traveled 265 clicks (Kilometers or 165 miles) in a week’s time. There are plenty of breaks for water, lunch, and sightseeing – so you do have some relief from the peddling. As I live in a very flat area of Texas, I had to be inventive in training for the trip. I trained the best I could and supplemented my trail cycling with a stationary cycle in the gym. It did prepare me for the trip, which I found to be challenging but manageable.
I am in the planning stage of a cycling trip next August (to escape the brutal heat and humidity in Texas) to Ireland with Cycling Safaris. They are a Dublin-based tour company that I have traveled solo with several times (and can highly recommend.) They provide the cycles, routes, guides, lodging, and breakfast each day. However, on this next trip – I am going to hire an electric or E-Bike. I will still be doing most of the pedaling but the E-Bikes have an integrated motor that can assist on the climbs or against the wind. That way, I can conserve my energy, enjoy the views, and keep up with the rest of the group.
My previous route was the Connemara, Galway and Mayo Trip. I flew into Shannon Airport and then took a bus into Galway to meet up with the rest of the tour group the first evening. I was traveling solo and had the option to share a room or at an additional cost have my own room. I shared a room and met an instant friend from Australia. I do recommend flying in a day earlier to adjust to the time and sleep off any jet lag. Cycling Safaris can book you a room for that extra day. The rest of the group of 12 were equal parts singles and equal parts couples from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Spain, and of course the US. Meeting as a group that first evening set the tone for the remainder of the trip, as we got to know each other over our first Guinness of the trip in one of Galway’s many Pubs.
The next morning after Breakfast, we started the trip in the charming town of Westport (aren’t all Irish towns charming?) Our guide (he was so much more than a guide, add in a professional cyclist, mechanic, historian, and personal counselor), fitted us out with a size-appropriate cycle, a lock, and a pannier with plenty of room to fit all of our “stuff.” The high points during our 6 days of cycling included the Pilgrimage Mountain of Croagh Patrick, the verdant Delphi Valley, Killary Harbor, Kylemore Abbey, Clifden, and the famous Connemara Sky Road. We also rode across the Burren, along deserted beaches, and for our last day of cycling ferried over to Aran Island, and visited the Hill Fort of Dun Aengus.
Each and every day of the trip was better than the day before. After an Irish Breakfast, we would pack up, and bring our luggage down to be transported to our B&B for the next night. We took off, sometimes staying in a group and other times wandering off at our own pace. We met up at a quaint predetermined place for lunch and a break, and then peddled to the next B&B for the night.
After spiffing up in our rooms (as our luggage preceded us), we would all meet for dinner and share stories about our day and our lives. As tired as we thought we were after a full day and dinner, we mustered up the strength to visit a Pub that Aiden would recommend. Spending an evening in an Irish Pub is a unique experience not to be missed. Of course, go for the Guinness, but stay for new friends you will meet, and if you are lucky, you can top it off with Traditional Irish Music.
On our last dinner of the trip together, we went around the table and shared our favorite experiences/feelings of the trip. I admit I shed a tear or two, as even though we traded emails and phone numbers, we all knew that we had to go back to the daily grind of our lives, and would not have time to keep in touch.
My cycling trip in Ireland made me feel like a kid again. I recovered the spontaneity of my childhood for that one week of new experiences and activities in the enchanting country of Ireland. I felt so free and carefree as I did not have to worry about upcoming appointments, meetings, or responsibilities. I really need to get back to Ireland.