The wind at your back on a bicycle is a glorious thing.

I drove the rental car to the north coast. It reminded me of why I like to tour by bicycle. Locked in a car, pressured by fast drivers trying to get somewhere, navigating unfamiliar roads, you don’t get to see anything. Or you have to be very intentional about what you expect to see and make it a destination, along with all the other tourists in cars. It all fills me with anxiety.

And driving on the wrong side of the road was surprisingly difficult – particularly on these Irish roads that were not made for two cars to pass. It’s easy enough to get used to being on the left side. The hard part was knowing where the edges of the car are. It felt like a fifteen year old with a learners permit. So I did what my brother Bill taught me then, “just look straight ahead and drive.”

After Sligo, I wandered around until I decided to stay at an HI hostel at the base of a mountain. Nice place. I stayed for two nights in a private room. It was nicer than a number of the B&Bs I have stayed in. I was able to prepare my own meals, which I shared with an Italian backpacker. I later gave him a ride back to Sligo.

View out of the dining room window at the hostel.

Saw some sights, had some more anxiety filled drives, and returned the car and cycled back to the B&B in Charlestown where I had stayed after Frida went lame.

While I was there before, I had spoken to the owner/chef about baking. He was interested in learning how to make sourdough bread. So, while I was away, I emailed him and suggested that I could give him a sourdough lesson. He loved the idea, so I booked two nights so I could have a full day for instruction.

It was a great time. Everything went wrong. His starter was weak, he hadn’t refreshed it properly, then, through miscommunication, I diluted it further; the flour was weak. But all of this gave us great opportunities for teaching/learning. While waiting around for the dough to ferment, I figured we could also make straight dough baguettes. Problems with that too.

Anyway, we had a great day. He learned a lot. We made some passable baguettes and some very tasty but flat sourdough boules.

I would have preferred to have stayed in Charlestown and baked, but that wasn’t happening. So I hit the road this morning. i decided to go south. Maybe I’ll reach Dingle. I don’t know yet.

This time, I decided to try an N road. It had a wide shoulder and the traffic wasn’t too heavy. Man, what a difference! No hills! Those tertiary roads I have been riding on were all designed by sheep, cows and asses. They never saw a hill they didn’t want to go directly over. Those roads are a painful chain of steep climbs and steep descents on rough pavement. But the downs never carry you over the ups.

It’s a trade off. The small roads have no traffic. They often go through beautiful, pastoral scenes. But they are steep and often quite rough. The N roads have traffic, they are noisy, and they are somewhat removed from the landscape.

At this point in the trip, I’ll take the easy ride.

And to make today’s ride even better, I had a tail wind. 22 mph, fully loaded, on a flat straightaway, on a Bike Friday. I was Superman.

Tomorrow I go to Galway. Will probably stay one night and push on south.

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