Day 2 (August 23rd, 2014)
I woke up hungover yet hopeful that Christmas came early and the airlines found my bike. Unfortunately, no emails, missed calls, nor messages at the front desk await me. Impatient, I try calling the airline to no avail. Finally, after a long breakfast, I get through to the “secret line” and am told they have both my missing bags! Elated I start planning a long ride as it is beautiful out and I really need to get some miles under my belt so I’m not out of my element when the real riding starts.
2 hours later, my bags arrive and I have already planned a long trip up to a natural heritage site some 25 miles north. I feel like I have been reunited with a long lost lover and waste no time putting the bike together. It takes nearly 40 minutes to get everything in place and double checked so that I would have no issues on the road. Contented that I am not missing anything, I push off for Killinaboy at 12:30pm.
The first part of the ride is a little interesting as I’m hesitant to use google maps due to my low data allotment, so am winging it with a large printout of the area. Quickly I realize that few of the roads are marked and one must navigate the back roads either by memory, or with GPS. After getting lost a few times, I turn on google maps and don’t look back.
After travelling about 20 miles through the winding countryside, with its narrow roads and beautiful scenery, I behold a beautiful, small castle in front of me. From the castle it’s only 2 miles due east to the site I really came to see.
The views all over the natural heritage site called “The Burren” are spectacular. I film video that will be uploaded shortly and take many pictures of the site. Contented that I have seen it all, I head back to Corofin for dinner and a pint before I ride back to Ennis.
It is just my luck that at the very moment I stumble into the only bar/restaurant in Corofin, so does a party bus of rowdy Irish. They immediately take notice of my bike and are quick with inquires along the lines of “Oi, that’s a fancy bike, what are you planning on getting into then?”
I tell them my story and ask about theirs. They are a mixed bag of 18 relatives and friends celebrating the 30th birthday of Sinead with a Father Ted bus tour. Apparently the TV show Father Ted is wildly popular in Ireland and is a satire on church live and overall debauchery. Definitely a must watch when I get home.
After a few pints and 3 games of flip cup, I have met the entire rowdy bunch. Then, out of nowhere, Sinead rallies the troops with a cry of “on to the next bar!” I’m ready to grab some food and head back but a few new friends corner me and ask where I’m going. I say home, and they say no way, put your bike in the back of the bus and come with us. After a brief hesitation where I weigh the pros/cons of traveling all across a foreign country with strangers, I say fuck it, when in Ireland, do as the Irish.
We leave the bar around 3pm and head to the house of Father Ted so they can reminisce. After a brief respite there, we bar hop all the way up Clare County and into Kinvarra, a beautiful seaside town in Galway County. After many songs a ton of debaucherous merriment, we finally head home.
I finally look at my watch on the way back, since most of the bus is already sound asleep, and am shocked its 3am. I have spent 12 hours with these new friends and seen parts of Ireland I could not dream of learning about from Rick Steves, Anthony Bourdain, or any other travel journalist. I am forever indebted to this merry crew for showing me this side of Ireland!
Reality hits like a kick the to the groin though when the bus driver unloads my bike. He assures me all the pieces are there and he will unload it himself by my hostel while I say my good byes. As I walk over to check the bike, he drives away and I realize that the front portion is missing. I separated Bertha into pieces so it could fit into the bus and this front portion is indispensable when it comes to riding the bike again. After a fruitless chase after the bus, I commence a sulking demeanor of someone who has lost a lover, found her, then the very same day lost her again! What am I to do???