Monday, April 20, 2009

141 miles from Cork to Ballyvourney

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Motorcycles are strange beasts. They have to be more than simple machines if they can make people so passionate about them because surely they are more than a simple form of transport. It is two wheels set in a frame with an engine underneath you. And isn't that really it? It is you and the motorcycle, free on the road. It is the road however that does not get plaudits that it deserves, after all, roads are just lines of solid ground and yet somehow they can seem to call you, beckoning you to follow it simply to see where it goes. I'm going to say that the reasoning behind this is a simple look back at childhood when you wondered where that path into the woods went or maybe it was a simple curiosity borne out of childhood. It remains with us all through life I think but we can only show it now and then, when we are free to do so and when on a bike freedom is the key word and naturally then we follow the road. We answer its continuous call knowing there are risks but isn't that what life is all about, the risk of taking risks?

On Sunday morning I planned out a route using Google Maps to ride from Cork City to Ballyvourney but by going through Nad, Banteer and Rathmore in Kerry. Essentially it was to be a big loop on mainly regional roads and I wrote the route out on a sheet of paper stuffed in my jacket pocket confident that the reminders of what towns I should hit, coupled with my own fairly good sense of direction, would bring me safely to my destination. When you sit on a motorcycle however you realise that it isn't so much the destination as the journey and after giving the bike a quick check over I got ready to roll. Needless to say the original route plan was slightly altered on the fly!

I geared myself up before setting off, putting on my armoured jacket, armoured pants zipped to the jacket, my helmet and gloves and boots and stepped out into the sunshine which I hoped would mean that the bike would start without much hassle. Gemini, my Honda Innova 125, had recently thrown me a problem in that the choke cable used to start the engine when cold, had buckled so when I had to start it now I often had to use the kick starter numerous times before warming the engine and then finally setting off. I didn't feel like having to use the kick starter with all my gear on i this heat and thankfully didn't have to for the sun had warmed the bike cover and the bike under it to the pont where the seat felt nice and squishy and sit on and the electric start worked first time! With my route in my head, I stepped down on the lever to engage first with a clunk, twisted the throttle and was off.

The Innova, having a top speed of about 70mph, is never quite at home on the motorways or fast national roads but its lively single cylinder engine is quite at home on the backroads and regional roads that cut through some of the beautiful Irish countryside and it was my intention to stay on these roads as I made my way through the city, heading in the direction of Blackpool through Shandon, amazed at how little traffic there was in the city on this particular Sunday. I could have taken the main Mallow road out to Blarney but that was a national route and instead I made my way up through the Northside of the city through Fairhill and down through Lower Killeens. Killeen, in my mind, were a cloth making company, you know the cloths for cleaning dishes and rubber gloves for washing up? Well there was no such factory on this road. Sorry. Anyway even though I had just left the city and hadn't even arrived in Blarney yet, it seemed like I was deep in the countryside already and the Lower Killeen road was empty bar one car, quite bumpy but there were no potholes and some nice bends. The problem with the bends was that they were partly blind so I wasn't sure were there entrances behind them and having scouted out one or two I actually turned back to shoot through the bends with more aplomb safe in the knowledge that nothing would come out to block my path. It was worth it!

It was only a few minutes before I reached a fork in the road and I was on the road to Blarney where I thought it would be wise to fill the tank. I stopped breifly earning the vicious look of a woman in a Ford Fiesta as I put my lid back on having filled the tank and paid. I was taking up space in the busy garage and she joined another queue for a pump, still glaring at me. Maybe she had overdone the dinner or something at home. Not too far up the road I saw a sign for Waterloo and followed it on instinct, which gives you a clue as to how my original route plan was already being ripped up! In fact the route plan was for me to hit Kerry Pike but I knew Blarney was close enough so I suppose on the first "stop" I had already deviated. It's part and parcel of the whole adventure really. Of course following the road to Waterloo, I couldn't stop Abba from playing on that MP3 player in my head. "Waterloo, couldn't escape if I wanted to..." Oh God. I passed through quickly briefly stopping to look at a round tower with the road up to that being a lovely tightening right hand bend with a smooth surface so I could really lean the bike. At this point that MP3 player had stopped. Thankfully.

I then followed the road out of Waterloo which to me consisted of just that round tower, the adjoining church and a pub as in the pictures. Funnily enough I thought the position of the round tower was perfect for attacking the pub military style if need be. Sometimes I wonder about's not often I'd make an observation like that! From Waterloo I went north the bike flicking through some minor bends with ease but there was nothing too exciting yet and although the scenery was nice it wasn't anything to stop and take pictures of. A town called Donoughmore was on my route and seeing a sign for it, I stopped the bike and took the sheet of paper out of my pocket. Sure enough I missed Kerry Pike but Donoughmore was indeed on my list and I duly turned right to follow the sign. Where I was though seemed like some sort of great plain - there were mountains way far out but for a fierce distance there was really nothing but fields (and the house across the road). I stopped somewhere on the way to Donoughmore in a little village that seemed pretty abandoned to me. It had a Coop Store in it and a pub with petrol pumps in front of but despite the petrol prices being recent enough, the actual pub itself looked very much closed as did the shop further up the road. One or two vehicles passed through, none of them paying much attention to me and none stopping either so there really must not have been much to the place and slowly coming to that conclusion myself I started the Innova again and and rode off to Donoughmore, possibly following signs but I can't quite remember.

I knew that in order to get to Nad and then Banteer I needed to be on the R579. I rode through a village called New Tipperary which really, looking back was worthy of a picture but took a steep road West of it up into Donoughmore Cross which I did picture and at where a funny little episode occurred. Bear in mind here that throughout the journey I was wearing ear plugs to protect my ears from the wind and engine noise which can get quite annoyingly loud even through a helmet. Stopping to take a picture of the bike under the Donoughmore Cross sign a couple pulled up in their car. They were coming from a road going north and were wondering to go on to the R579 or to go right on the road I had just come from. Or at least they were the options I saw. There was of course the option of getting tanked in the two pubs not in the picture. The guy, who was in the passenger seat too kthe map from the lady driving and asked which was the way to Coachford. Only half hearing him (I was too lazy to take off the helmet and ear plugs), I tried out my lip reading skills. I got Coachford so I looked at the map and told him to take the road I had just come from as I thought that would bring him there going by the map anyway. I realise now that pointing with thick gloves at roads on a map isn't very specific because my thumb was the size, on the map, of County Louth. He thanked me and they pulled off and I duly did too, following the road linking to the R579 through a little cross road called Ballycunnigham. However as I stopped near it to take a picture I noticed in my mirrors a car I recognised from earlier. It was the couple I gave directions to and they drove past me, smiling at me probably discussing how much of an idiot I was. I smiled back. I then noticed that one of the signs at the crossroads pointed to Coachford and I too felt like an idiot but of course I could justify it by saying that if they had went my way they would have gotten there too and enjoyed a longer spin. Still I forgot about it as I photographed the abandoned pub at the crossroads which was called Ballycunningham. It needed to be photographed as the place hadn't been given any attention in years, every car passing, and there was a good few, all seemed to be going somewhere else, not slowing for a look or anything. The place seemed like it had bad memories hidden away and people wanted to run from it. I decided I should let it to its rest and followed the sign to Nad wondering what old characters drank in this pub before.

I don't think I had ever been to Nad before and I didn't realise what distance I had to cover to actually get there but it's not like I should complain about the journey. The road was beautiful, part of the so-called Duhallow Trail which meant that any town I passed through had a nice green and red designed sign stating that and the towns or village's name. A nice touch. As I rode along I could see that the road had a few bends ahead so I began to ready myself to lean the Innova through a few of them. There's something intimately pleasurable about leaning a bike through a perfect bend, what speed you carry in to it, how you set the bike up before this and then how you ride out of the bend, gently lifting the bike back to where it began on the straight and narrow. It's like a dance routine, slow in the mind but fast in physicalities (or should that be the other way around?) and this road was the dancefloor as the green and lush countryside flew by. I hardly noticed but the bends actually swivelled and curved upwards along the side of a section of the Boggeragh Mountains which allowed for some beautiful views into the valley below and this meant, of course, that I had to stop and take a picture or two. At one point I saw a farm way down the valley and thought that the road was worth having a ramble along but sense got the better of me and I stuck to my route, or at least what I had improvised as a route anyway. It was to be the first time sense would win all day.

I did warn that sense only won once on the day so as I came to the top of the mountain or hill or whatever other thing you would like to name this section of raised ground, I spotted two roads leading into a forest and passed them but then thought that perhaps one of them would be worth a quick look. A quick mirror check and I grabbed a fistful of front brake, hit down through the gears and after a lifesaver I turned around to go back and check out the trail. That's what it turned out to be, a trail with a load of bumps, sharp looking rocks and a muddy verge. Oh, and there was plenty of tree's on either side so it seemed to me like the only people using this road were going to be forestry workers and the chance of that happening on a Sunday were slim. I passed a parked Ford Fiesta as I entered the trail, an elderly couple in the car were enjoying the view and I wondered for a split second should I ask them what I was letting myself in for and indeed they looked at me as if to say "what are you doing?!" Soon enough though I couldn't see their car and was too far up the trail to turn around. I mean, what would have been the point in turning around having come this far to see nothing yet? I had to carry on to please myself and yet again sense lost the battle. Not seeing a watch for time didn't help either I suppose. There seemed to be a crest ahead so I rode to that, the road now changing from gravel to some kind of pot-holed tarmac slither with bog on either side and woods too. Having reached the crest I parked up and sat on the bog (if you'll excuse the pun) for a short while. Actually hold on, I didn't sit on the bog as in, go to the toilet, I sat on a dry section of the bog to relax a little! I thought that with being so far in from the road I wouldn't hear any cars which would have been nice, to be somewhere so remote you could pretty much do what you wanted to do (like scream or something). However I did hear cars after taking out my ear plugs after removing the helmet so they went back on, I turned around in a fairly muddy patch which meant plenty of wheelspin weeeee!!!! The journey back to the road was much shorter than I thought it would be and as I dodged between big rocks and sharp pebbles, I pondered on what a guy had told me before. He said "But what if you get a puncture?" He was right. Out here I was miles from anywhere and certainly I could not bring the bike up to a shop to have it sorted. In that situation it's best to say "Well, who gives a shit?" I clearly did, and do, but you get my point.

Rejoinging the road I soon found myself going through Nad which disappointed me in way, it was just a pub and very little else, so little else that I almost forgot to snap a photo. The road to it went downhill and really couldn't have gotten much better than it did, curving through the landscape with one particularly delightful right hander which just begged to be taken at full throttle with a gently lean. It's difficult to describe really but if you've been on a bike you'll understand. It's special going through a corner on a bike because it's just you flying through the air you're feet a few inches off the ground straddling a machine that'll hopefully bring you safely through it all. After this euphoria though Nad was a let down. A fork in the road just outside Nad (well I'm not sure could there be an outside and an inside with the place being so small), led one way to a place called Lyre and another to Banteer. The name "Lyre" interested me but I decided not to follow it, Banteer was on my route map. Did sense win there? I suppose it did though looking at a map now it seems I could have done both easily. But then what if Lyre wasn't all that good? Right now, in my head it is a lovely little village with an intriguing name. Discovering it could have meant the ruin of this image kind of like us humans finding out that the moon is not made of cheese - a shame.

On to Banteer and the road was still pretty much following the Duhallow Trail which a sign before Nad had remarked was an EU supported initiative or area or some such thing. The sign looked old school, battered by the long winters up here. There was one point where I pushed a little too much and if I remember correctly, which I may not, it was as I approached Banteer. I was leaning into a right hand bend which led to a bridge and I misjudged my entry speed and made a little mess of the recovery. I say little mess because a big mess would have been my battered body and a bike lying on the road looking like an angry mother had taken a hammer to it. I leaned further into the corner realising my speed was too high, my gearing was correct-ish for the exit and a further change down could have resulted in the back-end of the bike kicking out a little which was certainly not what I needed so I did what one should never do in a corner, pulled the front brake. The risk is that you can pull it too much, lock it and then you'll slide onto the ground but I pulled it gently then switched to the rear brake which is what I should have done and glided through. All's well that ends well I suppose and its a lesson learnt. Plus it livened up the story at a point where I would have been going on about lovely roads again so be thankful.

Banteer itself was fine, I stopped, turned the bike around at a Skoda garage where my presence seemed to move off a young couple looking through the used cars and I parked up outside the Post Office to take a pic. There was a pub and a church, two staples of Irish village life but no shop that I could see, bar the PO which was closed. I looked at a tourist information board across the street and saw that the mountain behind me was climbable though I'm not sure if they meant that it was to be hiked up or perhaps driven up. It promised views that would last a lifetime in memory but alas I didn't go back and past Banteer train station on the way out of town following one of those Mercedes 4x4's which were popular when people thought taking a loan from the bank made them rich. I wondered how the woman in this one was paying off the inevitable loan she had saddled herself with. I then laughed at her when I thought of how much she needs to fill the tank compared to me!!! It was deserved, she pulled out on me. Still, by doing so I had a runner for a lot of the ride into Millstreet meaning I could cruise along at 50mph with not a care in the world, the slipstream behind her big blocky vehicle creating a nice cushion for my bike's engine to cruise along in. Maybe she even thought I was following her, which was fine by me although I was not following her.

One thing about enjoying roads on the Innova is that you often have to push it, wokring through the 4 gears in order to get the greatest use of what little power its small engine can produce and this can become tiring after a while as you plan ahead to brake and lean and accelerate, all the while attempting to ensure that you keep your speed someway constant and the engine in the right rev space so that you didn;t slow yourself down. Cruising behind her meant I could avoid that, put the bike in 4th gear and just enjoy the views. She turned off at Rathcoole, another village marked with a Duhallow Trail sign so now I could push on a little to Millstreet. I'd never really had a good look around Millstreet and was interested to find out what it was like although the road down into it wasn't quite up there with the road neaer Nad as regards the grin factor. I even took my first touristy picture there! The guy in the tractor near where I took the photo may or may not have said something funny about the whole episode - I can't tell as I wasn't talking to him. After taking the picture I rode down a hill and then back up slightly, finding out that this simply the outskirts of the town which was by far the biggest around. In going through the town centre, I had the idea of stopping to walk around a little but didn't until I almost passed through the place altogehter. I was looking for a shop so that I could stop, have an ice cream and just stretch my legs a little. The Innova had proved comfortable enough to a point, I didn't have a sore arse yet and only my lower legs showed any sign of soreness and the little walk sorted that. Ambling into Centra I didn't get an ice cream after all. I parked the bike across the road in the car park, read about how Millstreet hosted the Eurovision and then realised that with a helmet on me and gloves, it'd be hard to carry an icne cream too. Mars Bar and can of Pepsi it was then. I walked and drank as I walked down the main street certain that people were looking at me as I wasn't a familiar face. Despite it being a town and not a village I still suspected that this system of "community surveillance" was going on. It was interesting to see Murphy's furniture shop though as it looked like Murphy was using the furniture and selling it out of his house, an ingenious idea I thought. At the bottom of the street, and I use the term bottom here to mean the lowest point of the street as regards elevation from sea level (ther street dipped), there was a chipper and a pub. Two pubs in fact. What I found interesting was the proximity of the pub to the chipper and how they had tried to change the chipper into a "fast food family restaurant" or so they said. The name change, I thought, still didn't stop drunken people from next door from stumbling through the narrow door into it. It couldn't have been more convieniently placed anyway - right next door. In fact most places in Millstreet seemed to be made up of houses so most doors were much narrower than you'd normally expect a shop to be. I doubted that the Green Glens Arena could be the same. This was where the 1993 Eurovision Song Contest was held and as I was passing through I decided I may as well have a look. I rode the bike out of the car park near Centra turning right at a sign for the place and rode up a short hill to where the Arena was supposed to be. There seemed to be some kind of competition happening there at the time so the car park had a few cars in it and I couldn' quite be sure which was the Arena and which was the secondary school. Neither really stood out. I suppose I expected the Arena to be obvious in its stature but really it was fairly non-descript but then as I didn't get off the bike I couldn't quite. On my exit I took a lane leading to a big house so I slammed on the brakes realising my mistake and turned it around pretty quickly to get out of there with the thought that any second now a pack of dogs akin to the hounds The Simpson's Mr Burns possesses would come running out. They didn't. That's if they even existed by the way.

By now I was itching to get back out on to the open road and I hit the road to Rathmore. The bike would be seeing another county! The road to Rathmore was, besides a small twisity bit near Ballydavid, very straight. It was bumpy though and it seemed like they hadn't had enough diesel to run the steam roller on it mushc to my eventual annoyance. In fact what was more annoying was the twisty bit to Ballydavid. There was no way that could be enjoyed because the road was just way too bumpy, a large stretch of bumpy fresh-ish tarmac having been laid all along the roads twisty bits to ensure that tall people bounced their heads off car roofs and bikers had their arses broken. I was forced to slow down quite a lot but I imagine the road would have been safer had it been smoother despite higher speeds. Even the margins were crumbling. The extremely straight stretch of road, had it been smooth, would not have seemed out of place in America. I was forced to slow down on this too as the suspension eventually gave up the ghost, launching me off my seat while doing 60mph. I eased back on the throttle and carried on but slower this time. The tree's lining the side of the road didn't look like places I wanted to be launched into. When there were gaps in the trees though there were some lovely views of the mountains in the distance seperating me from Ballyvourney and I stopped to take a picture. In fact I had to stop, turn the bike around, go back and find a large enough gap in the trees and then take a picture. The guy mowing his lawn on the lone roadside house must have thought I was crazy going up and down past him. His lawnmower looked good though, it was a driving one, or whatever they're called. He was even impressing his kid by allowing him ride on it and to be honest I would have too, its not as if there are radios on those things for entertainment and he's probably sick of the landscape I thought of as beautiful.

I soon came upon the Welcome to Kerry sign on the road and slowed to take a picture. The driver behind me didn't seem to notice I was stopping and looked back in anger as he passed me. Maybe he was listening to Oasis at the time. I took the picture, seeing a factory up ahead and the road was a lot smoother with a bend into the mix at last. I checked mirrors, lifesaver, indicated, lifesaver and pulled away to attack the bend with a bit of gusto, I was tired of simply cruising now although I had to admit to slowing a little going past the Cadbury's factory. I love chocolate but there was no real reason to slow down. As for Rathmore, well I didn't think too much of it but by now I was guessing that I'd be needing fuel soon and despite planning to fill up in Ballyvourney upon getting there it turned out I'd have to use Topaz in Rathmore which seemed to have a Centra the size of Dunnes sttached to it. They even rented DVDs!!! Before that though I followed the road deeper into Kerry, past a bar called The Bridge Bar (bridges must have been oh so special when they named this one) and then took a right on a small local road towards the mountains. Looking at maps now I would have eventually ended up in Ballyvourney, or near it anyway but my fuel tank was against me, now showing only 2 bars out of 6 and I couldn't be sure of making it over the mountain without a lot of fuel to play around with. Topaz didn't locate on this road so I'd be stuck if I ran out. You could say then that sense won because I turned back looking at the road with a certain wonder - what was up there? where would it lead? what views would I see? I couldn't find out but I did find out that the Topaz station in Rathmore had the massive Centra attached to it.

I now had the option of going hell for leather back to Millstreet or going back to the fabled mountain road. Millstreet it was, after all, the sun wasn't going to stay in the sky forever, it was approaching 5pm and as I rode Eastwards I nodded to some bikers passing opposite to me. I had the sense that they were going home and so was I but I was probably much further and certainly on a much much smaller bike. The twisty bits ruined by bumps earlier were ok this time, with my left side of the road not having seen works done to it and I had a slight bit of fun heading through them but nothing extreme, the bends ended too quickly. Once I got into Millstreet I took a look at the tourist map at the Centra I had been to earlier to have a look at the route to Ballyvourney. Using a little bit of common sense I thought if I follow the road to Macroom then Ballyvourney won't be far and this was right but the road to Macroom was the road to Macroom not the road to Ballyvourney. The tourist map suggested a cycling route on some local roads over the mountain to Ballyvourney and apprently there would be some fantastic views too so I mentally jotted down "Take road to Macroom, third local road on left, then follow signs". They said the route for the bikes was well signposted which was a relief as being stuck on the mountain wasn't going to be fun. I accelerated out of Macroom, sharing a stare with a boy racer who I knew for sure wasn't having as much fun as I was and headed South to Macroom. There was a fair amount of traffic on the road and no bends of real note so I was essentially cruising along again enjoyin the views and looking out for the third exit to the mountain road. At this stage I was getting hungry and felt like going home but at the same time I really wanted to reach Ballyvourney so spotting the third exit I slowed the bike down and followed the road waiting for there to be plenty of signs, as promised, to guide me along. The signs never materialised for I followed the road anyway, it was nice and bendy so even though I couldn't bring he bike up to any speed I did manage to have a little fun through the corners, dabbing on some brake to push the balance to the front and giving full throttle coming out of corners safe in the knowledge that I was still going slowly anyway! The views only seemed to get nicer and nicer as I followed the road and I could see that it led to te crest of the mountain on the other side so at least I had some form of direction now. Climbing to the top of this section of mountain I met a 4x4 coming the opposite way to me and left it past. I used the opportunity then to hop off the bike and take a picture thinking to myself that not long had passed before I had been on the mountain way off in the distance. Or so I thought anyway. It seemed nice to think it and it may have even been true. Passing over the crest though I came upon acres of forest and all of it was below me as the pictures show. Honestly, if you were dropped in the middle of it from a helicopter you'd have a hard job finding a way out, or at least a long job finding a way out. With the bike I could just coast along in 2nd gear and look down although seeing some inviting turns, I sped up a little post-photo taking and enjoyed not going over the gravel in the middle. Gravel and bikes don't go together really. Even though the view to the left was fairly spectacular what with the forests and a horizon way way off in between mountain gaps, the view to the right of me as I rode on was also pretty good because the mountain kept going up! There seemed to be some sort of transmitter at the very top as well which meant I could go further as there was likely a road to it but I was already fairly isolted from civilisation already rather than go any further. Reaching a gap in between mountain sections I reached a junction in the road. Or so I thought anyway. I could have continued on the road which was now heading further Westward rather than Southward as I needed it to go and so when I arrived at the junction I took a left into a clump of forestry, a rusted wreck of a car watched ominously from a makeshift parking point as I piloted the bike over a rough trail deeper along the edge of the forest. The views from the left were quite nice and when I stopped to picture it I noticed that the N22 Cork - Kerry road was far far off in the distance so Ballyvourney must be close. At a time like this you tend to become more confident in yourself and I decided to press on despite my concerns over a potential puncture or other mishap. The trail was considerably worse than the last one near Nadd, it was very bumpy and rocks were strewn everywhere with clumps of bushes overgrowing on to it so that at one point it was difficult to keep the bike upright as I was going slowly and trying to avoid the rocks! I couldn't hear a sound anywhere so I knew I was on my own and I folowed the trail further on until it came to a fork. This was particulalry frustrating as there was no way that I was going to be able to go any further so having worked hard to get here I was now going to have to turn back and undo my work to rejoin the road about two miles back. The fork was precarious too, it led Southeasterly as far as I could tell as it had veered off, not offering the views I once had. One trail led into a load of mud, boggy mud which I had no chance with and the other trail was muddy too but pallets were placed over it to allow people to walk on through. There was no way the bike would make either of these. Besides even if it did I had the views I had before and couldn't guide myself. I shouted out in frustration and lifted the bike around as the mud was fairly soft, taking off with some wheelsping maybe...I'm not sure as I was too frustrated to remember. Coming back on to the road seemed a little shorter along the trail but I was disappointed and heartened at the same time - I was at least going to be back on something that was less likely to rip chunks of rubber from my tyres and the road had to go to SOMEWHERE. On the other hand I thought I was taking the right direction and was looking forward to the feeling you get when you emerge, semi-lost to find that your instinct brought you through it. It turned out that this happened anyway when the mountain road sloped down and whirled around a little towards Ballyvourney at last. I met the inevitable bunch of sheep on the road on the way back of course so at least I knew that a farmer was nearby and he couldn't be that far from a town or village could he? A this point it is worth mentioning that the I did indeed pass a sign, pointing in the direction of Ballyvourney for cyclists. If one signpost was their meaning of "well signposted" then they certainly had this very wrong. There was to be one close call though - isn't that the rule?! I was following the trail back into Ballyvourney and there were houses now adjoining the road which was another good sign but a guy in a red Peugeot 206, or so I think it was, came up opposite me at some speed. I slammed on the brakes and veered left where I had little room anyway but he just carried on, veering slightly, but other than that fairly unfazed. I didn't mind too much really, there was no cursing or anything going on underneath the helmet as I was just too glad to be off those tough roads and back to something smooth. By now I was ready to just sit back in a counch and relax but there was no chance, I had to continue on home but before I left Ballyvourney I took a detour to Cúl Aodhá a small Gaeltacht community outside of Ballyvourney. I remember it had been mentioned somewhere in the reams of paper I had to learn off in Leaving Cert honours Irish and thought that as I am out here I may as well see the place. It turned out that, through I suspect some healthy Gaeltacht grants, that the road to it was smooth and curved along the river adjoining it so I could lean the bike a little but not have to fight with it. The place seemed lovely and I took a snap of what seemed a shrine to Sean O Riada and made my way back to Ballyvourney and finally Macroom.

The road from Ballyvourney to Macroom was one I knew well have travelled it many times as a passenger in a car. At last I'd see what it was like to drive on. Although the signs said "dangerous bends ahead" I always saw them as fun looking and because there was a short line of slow traffic in front of me preventing the fun I slowed to a stop to take a pic, take stock and then fly off again through the bends, hopefully with the road to myself. Of course as soon as I stopped two cars went by but they seemed to be going at a reasonable pace, not the 30mph the others were intent on keeping. Eventually I got back on the bike and blasted through some of the bends, taking advantage of the good surface by leaning the bike over quite a bit carrying a decent pace into the corners. I had already missed some of the fun on some of the corners as I hadn't stopped early enough. It was only when I really got sick of just pottering along that I decided to stop and alow them go on so that I could choose my own pace. A nicer, more fun pace.
Of course they eventually came about up ahead as I closed in on them. Maybe they slowed down deliberately. In fact it may have been some bitter father who decided that, as he had had a crap Sunday due to the family acting the collective tool in the car with him, he would spread his frustration over the whole road, backing up traffic. "Will ye shut up in the back, no, no ice cream, we're having dinner when we go home.....and will you stop going on about the washing? I put the machine on spin rather than cool-wash, big deal, they'll be fine. Shut up back there!" It can't be easy being a father and having to work a washing machine too though at the time I didn't think about that and probably did utter a curse at the perpetraitor of this heinious road crime. Actually I was glad to be in an unintentional convoy as at least I could rest the engine a little, not straining it in hitting 65 or 70 on the way home. This traffic convoy by the way even went through Macroom.

People wouldn't have been suprised had it been a wedding going through the town at such slow pace and for a while I toyed with the idea of taking a left to take the old Coachford road back to Cork but dismissed the idea having not been on the Macroom to Cork road before and wanting to try it out. I actually thought it would be longer although the few bendy bits outside of Macroom were not much fun due to the slow pace and when the pace quickended eventually, the Innova had no problem keeping up all of the way back until I took a detour to Kilumney from the Ballincollig bypass and then ended back up on the bypass deciding I wouldn't fancy going through Ballincollig. I really, at this stage, just wanted to be home and continued on until reaching Togher in the city where I pulled off and took city roads back to my house.

All in all the trip was brilliant and my longest yet, 141 miles of riding pleasure although it was tough in places.


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