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Supporting appealmobile on his world travels

Thursday, 29 September 2011

A ferry, a shop doorway, a seaside shelter, a cattle shed, a theatre doorway, and a bus shelter for Luca Jones

I arrived back from Scotland with the intention of stripping the bike in preparation for next years ride to Northen Norway. However after reading about Luca Jones and the Anthony Nolan Organisation I decided to do the ride around Ireland. So I hurriedly re-assembled the engine and set about fixing some of the faults that I had brought back from North of the border.I eventually rode to Liverpool for a launch on Holyhead and the ferry to Dublin. My light bulbs only arrived on the morning of departure as they are 6volt and I have to have them delivered. It was Liverpool that I realised they had sent the wromg headlight bulb so night riding was out of the question. A night crossing was going to be the only option for a ferry and even then I would have to wait for daylight in the morning at Dublin.
It wasn't too difficult as Adrani in Dublin was printing my high vis vest for the ride and her shop didn't open till nine in the Henry Street shopping centre. I rode out and stopped at my friends in Rhyl before stopping at some of my childhood haunts on Holy Island before arriving at the ferry terminal.
It was a pleasant days ride but the bike was showing signs of a problem with the firing. I spent a couple of hours trying to sort it at the terminal and thought I had succeeded. While waiting for the ferry I was quized by three Irish guys who all contributed a total of thirty euros to Anthony Nolan Charity.
I managed an hours sleep on the ferry and sat at the petrol station for two hours when off the other side waiting for the daylight.
Once in receipt of my vest I was off and straight into a heavy rain storm, that soaked right through my boots and leggings. It was torrential with driving winds that made it impossible for riding, so I sat in an arcade till it eased off.
The bike continued to worsen and eventually after Drogheda it stopped totally. I had taken a wrong turn at Drogheda due to worrying about the electrics and this is where it had led me.
I spent a couple of hours checking what the problem was until I discovered a wire had separated off the magneto. The problem was I had left the tool needed to remove the magneto to fix it so I pushed back to Dunleer found a mechanic and a solderer for the morning.
All that was left was to find somewhere to sleep and fortunately there was one shop with a doorway for shelter. I spent a couple of hours in the pub as it was Friday and I didn't want to crash before everone had gone home. Due to the lack of sleep I gave in and headed onto the main street at 10pm to crash. I was on the verge of unconciousness when I was approached by Stephen who wanted to know the ins and outs of why I was there and offered to fetch me a sandwich. I told him I was too tired to eat and just needed to crash and off he went agter a couple of photos. I woke in the morning to a bag of sandwiches, fruit, orange drink and litre of milk, that he had left in the night for me. What a star.

A slide show of the Northern section of the ride

I waited till Noel the mechanic opened so I could borrow his pulley extractor and having removed the magneto cover I was over to 'Jim'll fixit's' to have the wire soldered back on. It wasn't long before the bike was running perfect again and I was off to reach Bangor near Belfast, a day late already.
Carlingford Lough near Newry
I rode the A2 along the peninsular north of Dundalk and somehow managed to dodge every heavy rain shower that was coming across from the west. In fact I seemed to be bathed in pemanent sunshine while the clouds gathered in the distance.

At last I came to the ferry across the mouth of Strangford Lough. I arrived the other side in Portaferry and enjoyed a guinness while getting the scores of the days games. 
It was off at full speed then to reach Bangor before dark.

I arrived in Bangor and having looked at the areas around the front decided to head back a bit along the sea front to look for a shelter for sleeping. Sea side resorts seem to have shelters but I only found the one which seemed a bit far out away from pubs, which suited me that night as I was still tired and over spent the previous day. The weather across the bay looked dreadful although the skies gave for a real dramatic shots. I crashed at 8pm  but was woken at ten by a group who patrolled the areas around Bangor to try and get kids off the streets. They were concerned that I was ill when they spotted me and after rea-ssuring them I was OK they offered me a cup of coffee from their plasma tv equipped van they use to attract the kids in, so as to offer them advice and help on drug issues and such.
They were really great guys and part of a larger network of groups out there doing things.
Back to sleep only to be woken a couple of hours later by the police who had had a report from a local dog walker who thought I was dead even though I was in my sleeping bag and bike parked next to the shelter. Once happy that I was alive they left me but the car park opposite was a constant stream of cars in and out all night for various purposes of pleasure I imagine.
At last day arrived, but the hills across the bay were obliterated by rain, which made me stay in my shelter and bag a little longer than I wanted to. There seemed no end to the rain over Antrim, but in the end I decided to grin and bear it and set off for a soaking.
Apart from a torrent of heavy rain in Belfast itself I was fortunate to arrive on the Antrim coast in beautiful crisp sunshine and a cool strong Northerly wind. prior to Bangor you could look across at the Isle of Man and now I was looking out at Stranraer and Campbeltown in Scotland where I had ridden only two weeks earlier. It was heavy going against the wind, but I had one goal today and that was to find a pub in Portrush, to watch the game against Spurs. I passed the giants causeway and hoped to get the bike close for a photo, but it costs £4 to park at the hotel and then a walk down to the causeway. I decided against that on costs more than anything else and headed on to reach Portrush. I found a pub only to find I'd missed the first half and a sending off. It got worse and as soon as the game was over I was back on the bike to rid my memory of the game.
The headland just before the Giants Causeway
Malin Head
I set off from Portrush to head for the ferry across Laugh Foyle, an enormous expanse of water to the north of Derry. Again the skies looked threatening and I was expecting another soaking when I arrived back in the Irish Republic. Although it had turned cold and was grey I escaped the worse of it. I wanted to reach Malin Head and get back to civilisation before dark. I was in so much of a rush I had overlooked how far I had travelled on the gallon in my tank, I reached Malin Head just before dusk and duly ran out of fuel. Fortunately and amazingly there was a gas pump at the small village stores up there, or I would have faced a twenty mile hike back to Malin the following morning. Once fuelled it was a race against time to get back to Carndonnagh before dark. Carndonnagh was a small maket town that had four bars in it's centre. I chose one that was run by an elderly woman and spent three guinnesses there while waiting to occupy a canopy at the cattle market. The cattle market was a large tin shed with iron gates and everything clanked in the wind during the night. Located in a large dark car park at the back of the pubs I was at least undisturbed until 7 am when a farmer dropped the tail gate of his live stock trailer onto the ground about a foot away from my sleeping head. It was market day and there was a queue of trailers with calves waiting to unload. There was much laughter as I jumped out of my deep slumber. It was a cold grey drizzly morning, but I was off quickly over the moorland and down to the ferry at Buncrana, to cross to the next peninsular. It was a while before I realised that the ferry wasn't operating and I would have to do the long way round through Letterkenny. I did manage to get a breakfast there before I left.

The weather improved and the sun came out and it turned warm, by the time I reached Letterkenny. Approaching the town I came across a fantastic sculpture, located in the middle of a roundabout.

It really is an amazing piece and was totally wasted in it's location as there is nowhere for cars to stop and look at it. I was fortunate that I just mounted the pavement and snapped away.

I was out of the town and heading for the north coast of Doneghal, when disaster struck only 5 miles away from the coastline.

A link broke on my chain, leaving me out in the wilds with no chance of fixing it.

Four in the afternoon and it was like night
I was at the road side trying to think of a way of connecting the two ends of the chain to get me back the thirty miles back to Letterkenny when a van pulled up, driven by Charlie a LFC fan. We threw the bike in the back of his van and he tried a couple of people he knew for a solution to my problem. Eventually we finished up at a motorbike spares shop where I purchased a new chain. Charlie wouldn't accept anything from me for his help even though he had only worked nine days since Christmas. Such is the situation in Ireland with the economy. By the time I was underway again the weather had turned and I was getting further behind schedule. I made the decision to go direct to Doneghal town, which was a wise decision in the end as the rain was sheeting it down and there would have been little visibility along the coast line. A shame because I had heard some wonderful things about the coast there. None the less I did and arrived soggy in Doneghal and sat down on the terrace of a bar in the diamond for a guinness while the rain poured down. A moment across the road for free internet for customers at the Deli and then the rain stopped. I was up and away. Unfortunately the rain kicked off again and I got soaked right through. It was gloomy and I was getting horns blasted at me while I rode down to Ballyshannon even though I was riding down that narrow strip on the left of the white line at the side of the road. I entered Ballyshannon and spotted the new build theatre and it's canopied entrance. I was under there in a flash and had my jacket dripping from the handrail while I tried desparately to get my hands dry enough to roll a cigarette. Then Fiona approached with a cup of coffee and asked if I was there for the drumming.
Fiona was part of the Ballyshannon samba drum group that were practicing in the theatre that evening. I was invited to join them and finished up with the shakers and having an absolutely great time with them. I hope they didn't mind my body odour as I had scheduled the day for bathtime in the sea off Doneghal. The breakdown and the hot weather could only have added to the 'aroma' A couple of pints in the pub afterwards and an offer of a caravan for the night which I had to decline because I had no lights on the bike to get there, I returned to the cover of the theatre entrance canopy. It had been a great night and I wished I had my own drum and was there for the carnival on the 8th of this month.
I was up early and down to Sligo. There was always this strong wind which was hamnpering progress but eventually reached the North coast of Mayo. 

The sun was shining  and it was a joy once I hit the lanes along the coast. Through Balina where I had a bowl of soup and then onto views of Achill Island from a distance
I was determined to get onto the island and see it without it's usual shroud of cloud, but it wasn't looking promising. I reached Mulranney and then hit the island reaching Teddy Lavells petrol station.

It was black and I was on the verge of returning to Mulranney but miraculously after hitting the toilets I emerged to wet roads and blue skies.

I raced to Keel with views of the famous Cathedral Cliffs and then onto Keem which I think is the most beautiful beach in Europe at least.

The view of Keel is one of those views that catch your breath. Nestled inbetween headlands the only access is one road. The beach is beautiful and manages a good surf and on a good sunny day is one of the best beaches to swim at.

The road to Keel is a one in and one out, and is carved into the hillside. The only thing between you and the sea below is the occasional sheep.

I was blessed to get a photo of the beach as normally you can't see it for rain.

After my emotional reunion with a beach I have visited on a number of occasions in the past, I set off to view the south side of the island.

The weather was on the edge and the winds had picked up again from the hurricanes across the Atlantic

The South side is a totally different landscape from the west. Jagged rocks and views across Clew bay to Claire Island and Chloe Patrick on Conamarra. I tried to park my bike on the headland but the wind would not allow it so all photos were taken astride the bike. It really was hurricane force and on a number of occasions I was nearly blown off the bike while riding
The weather was closing in again and I was off the island in the direction of Newport. I have a friend in Castlebar 20-30 kms inland and I hoped to catch him for a drink. A delay in texts meant that I continued to Westport. I was only there five minutes and the text arrived to meet up. Due to my lack of lighting meant I couldn't venture to Castlebar so Kevin my friend drove down for a drink in Westport.
We met at Matt Malloys which is far from a traditional Irish pub although it is world known for it's traditional Irish music nights. However the place is full of baseball capped Americans who seem to spend the whole evening taking photos. Not that I have anything against baseball wearing Americans.
I knew Matt Molloys more for it's smoking area which is warmer, usually, than the interior, so was happy enough to meet there.
I had already sussed a bus shelter, for the night and after a night of drinks retired to the only bus shelter in the West of Ireland.
I was woken on two occasions by the Guardia, but they left me in peace after my explanations of my ride.
However the morning produced another band of foul weather that delayed my assault on Connamara.

The view from my bus shelter in the morning at Westport

The Southern Section

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