"The ferry leaves at 9:15 a.m. I should have plenty of time," I said as I was standing in the hostel's kitchen thinking about frying some pork sausages. That's when the keeper, a youngish skinny Irishman with a wicked sense of humor said, "No, it leaves at 9 a.m.! I just rescued you!" He grinned under his black-rimmed glasses. Instantly in a panic, I grabbed the uncooked sausages and my heavy cream, then ran off to get Jamie loaded and speed-cycled to the pier. When I got there, I discovered that the ferry did leave at 9:15 a.m.!
It was a beautiful sunny day with a mild breeze and a few clouds in the sky. Upon arrival on the mainland, I tried to use my phone to access RidewithGPS, but the signal was too weak for me to pull up all of my fancy pre-planned cue sheets.
I asked two men who were working the gates to the ferry how to get to Clifden, which was the next major town before my final destination today - Letterfrack. A bit stunned and maybe amused at seeing me with all these non-functioning gadgets, they pointed me in the right direction and told me which small-town signs to watch out for on the way to Clifden.
Is this for real?
Connemara and Leprechauns.
For the first time, I had side wind for most of my ride. There was the occasional fierce and hated head wind, too, but nothing compared to the last few days.
To my relief and overcoming self-doubt about my performance I finally got up to a steady 14-16 mph with Jamie. The last days felt so self-defeating when I averaged all of 6-9 mph.
I was now in Connomara County: a sparse mountainous landscape with short greenish-yellowish grass and weeds that had not yet into blossomed into their bright green spring and summer look. Sheep were plentiful and standing in the middle of the road. I unclipped from the bike pedals so I would be able to stop fast if they were to jump out in front of me. (Note for all non-cyclists: Clips lock your shoes into the pedals. Unclipping is removing your shoe from that position. It can be difficult at the beginning and cyclists fall to their right or left if they do not unclip fast enough. I was worried that this might be more painful than falling over with an extra 60 pounds on my bike.)
Riding past little creeks and cascades that emerged suddenly between the vast grass fields, I turned at an up-sloping curve and saw wind-blown trees hovering over a tiny creek. At the tree trunks on moss-covered ground were white- and black-checkered baby lambs and sheep resting. It was like a picture in of one those sickening postcards of a perfect idyllic world. All what was missing was a Leprechaun peeking in behind a sheep.
I arrived around 6 p.m. in Letterfrack after about 40 miles and a 2,400-foot climb. On my way to the hostel, I ran into Cloe, who I shared my dorm with in Doolin. Freddie and Katrin from Germany had arrived two days ago and also were expecting me. It was nice to see familiar faces.
After dinner I was really too tired to head out to check out the local pub scene. Fearing I would miss out on some good music, I made myself an espresso before Cloe and I headed out. It would have been delicious with some heavy cream, but when I opened my bottle of heavy cream I found whipped cream instead! Apparently, the bike movement beat the heavy cream into "Schlag."
Note: Whiskey of choice: Crest 12...smoooooth!!!