170903-What Is This?

I awoke last night to a torrential downpour, twisting the tent to and fro. The rain at least kept the night warm. Rain continued through the early morning. As it ebbed I made a short ride for groceries, and packed for the day’s excursion.

I met a young woman this morning packing up her bicycle. Another cyclist and I noticed at the same time, and wandered over to talk to her. She’s been touring England and Ireland since June, and sounds like she’s had a rough weather time of it. She’s finishing off her tour by attending LeakyCon, a Harry Potter convention (as was evidenced by the wand strapped to her calf). She was friendly, but at the same time, in hindsight two random cyclists converging on her at the same time was likely a bit much.

After she cycled off, I continued to talk with the German cyclist, on a three week tour of Ireland. He tours annually (since 2006), and keeps a blog which I’ll have to take a look at (with generous application of Google Translate).

Yesterday I had extended my discovery of the Grand Canal to the Royal Canal, the Barrow Extension, and a number of other canals scattered about Ireland. Most of them include, for example, “The Grand Canal Way,” a path that follows the canal. Canals are great as cycle paths, as they tend to be relatively direct and level.

The distance and pace yesterday left my knee a bit stiff. Today I decided to explore two of the canals, heading 10 km north to the Royal Canal Way, following it west 10 km to Waynooth (and the associated castle), then 10 km south, only to finish my ride along 10 km of the Grand Canal. With rain scattered about the forecast for the day, that gave me plenty of time to shelter while the rain passed.

The Royal Canal Way was not the Way. The first two sections were barely dirt ruts, slick from recent rains. As I prepared to abandon it, it improved, then degraded yet again, and I abandoned it for the remainder of the journey into Waynooth.

Waynooth is a cute little town. I picked up batteries for the camera (as my lithium ones had finally died) before heading over to the castle.  I met three members of a family there, who had chosen many years ago to take all five of them cycling across Europe for a year. They are here now as their son is about to begin attending university in Dublin.

The tour guide for Waynooth Castle really knew his history. Castle construction not so much. To my credit I only clarified what he said once, then just left him alone.

By the end of the castle tour, rain began hard enough to soak me. I took shelter in the entrance of the castle gatehouse. Castle Waynooth, still providing shelter to weary travelers after 800 years.

I expected better of the Grand Canal, as I’d followed a short section of it on the way to Trim. It disappointed, little better than the Royal Canal. By then I had my sea legs back under me as it were, so fared better. I’ve certainly cycled far worse, and on a fully-loaded touring bicycle at that!

I have but an 11 km ride into Dublin tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to dry the tent out before I leave, but still arrive by mid-day, and quickly resolve the bicycle box acquisition. Someone I met on the Camino Frances last year who lives in Dublin messaged me, and we hope to get together before I fly out.

Thus effectively ends the cycling part of the tour. I’ve had great weather, but a lot of walking; I wasn’t sad to leave Wales behind me. It’s been a good trip, but I’m looking forward to coming home. Marnie, poodles, and other activities await!

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