Cycling In The Aran Islands

aran islandsGenerally you shouldn’t admit that you aren’t good at cycling. I mean, we say “it’s just like riding a bicycle” about something that is relatively easy and/or that anyone can do. I, however, cannot ride a bicycle. I mean, in theory I can, I understand the basics but in practicality…no, I cannot. Do you remember that episode of Frasier where Frasier learns to ride a bike but keeps crashing into things?  That’s me. I mean, I see the various walls, bollards and other obstructions but I just can’t seem to keep myself from driving straight into them, like the proverbial moth to the flame. Many times on my European adventures, well meaning people say to me “let’s go rent a bike and cycle around ______” and I always say “yes, great idea, I am a competent adult woman who has gone to University, held down and been good at many jobs and successfully travelled solo around Europe, I can certainly ride a bicycle” completely forgetting my penchant for colliding into all around me. Usually these days end with complete and utter destruction of my self-esteem (and usually the bike) and a firm resolve to not do the cycling ever again.

In May we (my boyfriend, sister and I) took a trip to Inis Mor (Inishmore) one of the Aran Islands. We arrived full of hope and belief in my cycling ability and feeling confident and worldly because we had not gotten sea-sick on the ferry. As cars are not allowed on the island (except by people who live there) and it is relatively small, the main method of transport for tourists is cycling.  We rented our bikes and made it to our Bed and Breakfast with only minor hiccups (me, crashing). The sun was shining, the sea was blue, people were drinking sangria on patios, everything seemed perfect.

 

So, we fortified ourselves with Bulmers Irish Cider and set off to cycle to Dun Aonghasa, a prehistoric fort. A fort, which, the receptionist informed us, was a “a nice bicycle ride on flat and even terrain.” YOU GUYS. I am from the prairies where we regularly tell the joke about the farmers dog who ran away and they could still see it for three days. We build hills so people can go skiing. As someone well acquainted with “flat and even terrain” I would not describe this trip as such. There were many hills. I crashed into a wall and five minutes later crashed into another wall. There were blood (mine) ,sweat (mine) and tears (also mine) but eventually we arrived to the base of the fort where we needed to be FORTified (hehe) with more Bulmers. There were loads of tourists around us who, I can only imagine, were also thinking about how much they hate bicycles, although they seemed to be smiling which I have no explanation for. We left our bikes and hiked up to the fort.  The view from up there was spectacular, no sarcasm it was amazing. It felt as though we were at the end of the world or in an especially magical place.

aran islands Cian

dun aonghasa

As it was starting to drizzle we headed back down with me going at a snails pace wondering how I could get out of cycling back. Well my friends, tell the universe what you want and it will deliver. When we got to the bottom of the hill our bikes had been stolen. I pretended to be upset for like, 30 seconds, max. I was like an actor in a D-movie about monsters who’s boyfriend/girlfriend has just been eaten by a bad CGI shark/killer croc/demon spider. That was my level of acting about the missing bicycles. Note that we had paid for the bike rental and deposit in cash and they hadn’t taken any information from us. And, as the island is relatively small the most likely thing is that the company had collected bikes they thought were left behind or something similar. In any case at that moment a taxi/small bus zoomed up and rescued us like a special agent zooming up to rescue Jason Bourne at the last minute (I don’t know if that’s what happens, I only saw one of those films). We made it back into town, had dinner and retired to our 80’s extravaganza hotel. There was a lot of wood panelling and frills in there is all I can say.  In the morning we took the ferry home and my sister and I got massively sea sick. When we arrived back to the mainland we both disembarked with the speed of lightening and nearly fell on our knees to kiss the ground, like a sailor who had been lost at sea and was seeing land for the first time in ages.

Fin

check out my instagram for more pictures of my travels in Ireland…and, let’s be honest, my dogs

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