Inishmore by Bike

Trip Start Aug 18, 2012
Trip End Sep 06, 2012

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Flag of Ireland  , Western Ireland,
Monday, August 27, 2012

To Inishmore
 I will not spend too much time on words for my blog today as I think the pictures will speak for themselves. Inishmore is the largest of the three Islands that make up the Aran Islands. The majority of the inhabitants of the islands are Irish native speakers and only speak English to interact with the tourists. It is at the end of the tourist season, so it was not as crowded as I had expected. We drove to Carraroe from Galway to catch the ferry to Inishmore. The journey on the ferry took about 45 minutes. Upon arriving, we (Anco, Ewien & me) were approached by many locals that offered to provide us with a bus or horse drawn tour. There were also three bike shops that rented bikes. We had already decided that we would explore the island by bike.

Get Pedaling
As we began our journey, we found the first remote path off the road and were amazed with the beauty. Stone fences as far as one could see with the sea always in the background. It is amazing what they are able to do with this island that was once just stone and sand. Over time, the inhabitants were able to make it fertile and self sustaining. As we ventured off the beaten path, we were able to interact with the locals. I sit here now and wonder what life would be like on the island. I know that it would be a hard life but also peaceful I suspect.

 At first the trails were fairly flat but they got hilly fast. Now I work out with weights and the treadmill five times a week on average but none of that prepared me to ride a bike with a Dutch couple that rides bikes everywhere, every day back home. Anco took a pace that could have led a race at times. To him, I think this was a casual ride. I kept up most of the time but by the end of our four hours of riding I could feel it in my legs. As a matter of fact I can feel it right now. The workout is not happening tomorrow:)

Dún Aonghasa - The Fort of Aonghasa
We reached a point in the day where we had time to do one more thing before heading back to the ferry. We had looked a going to the Fort of Aonghasa earlier in the day but there were so many people and we thought it would be less enjoyable. Since we had just enough time to go up there and still get back to the boat, we decided to go for it. After parking the bikes, we had a 20 minute hike up a very large hill filled with a stone staircase that must have been there for ages. There was only two other people there so we had the whole are to ourselves! 

The Fort of Aonghasa is thought to have been built in the second century B.C.! This structure is on a cliff that is 330 feet above the ocean below. Those that know me, understand that heights are a weird thing for me. I actually would like to jump when I am on something high. The wind was blowing pretty strong by this point so just walking up to the edge seemed a little crazy as the gusts must have been up to 20-25 mph. I did sit down on the edge and took some video you will see below as well of some great pictures from this point. The site of the North Atlantic crashing against the cliffs was amazing.

Time to Leave
This was a great day! Inishmore was one of the most scenic journeys I can ever remember being on. I will not forget this journey soon. (The four hour bike riding and additional hiking will make it hard for my body to forget for a couple of days!)

Anco and Ewien were great travel companions and I hope to travel with them again someday. I have now spent time with them on three different occasions in three different countries.. First in Mali, West Africa then dinner in my home in Omaha and now Ireland. I have a standing invitation to come see them in Dakar, Senegal. I hope to take them up on that offer some day with Cherie. Until we meet again...
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