Irish Sea Post Mortem

As usual, after I’m home for a few days I like looking back over the trip. This trip, including travel days, worked out to 30 days/29 nights (counting the arrival and departure days):

 Country  Nights
In the Air (8th to 9th)  1
Ireland  2+9
N. Ireland 5
Isle of Man 3
England 2
Wales 8

Expenses

Despite my intent to go to the UK after the hit to their currency from Brexit, both the euro and pound had gained on the US dollar since my last trip. My daily expenses averaged $41, almost identical to Istanbul to Ireland trip of roughly $41. Of particular note:

  • $15.93/day lodging costs
    Low of ~$8, high of ~$31.The two days in Newcastle waiting for bike repair at $31 really upped the overall average

  • $8.46/day in transport costs ($4.14/day Ferry costs)
    Three ferry rides (five, counting the short ferry ride across the N. Ireland border, and the other south from Liverpool), certainly had a financial impact. In particular, the ferry to the Isle of Man doubled in cost during my delay until I was certain I visited Carrickfergus castle before leaving N. Ireland.
  • $1.31/day Cash Advance/Exchange fees
    I pulled cash from an ATM four times (each time I crossed a national border), plus the one failed attempt (which I’m still trying to untangle with the credit card company) just before crossing the border to N. Ireland. Crossing multiple borders in a short time meant more dealing with currency.
  • $2.42/day Bicycle maintenance (headset, oil)
    I always end up buying oil, because I never start with much. The failure of the headset was, I think, the worst mechanical failure I’ve had while touring. Except for a harrowing ride down into Newcastle, no real harm or foul.
  • 5.98/day Entertainment
    Things like postcards, castles, and other attractions.
  • 8.46/day food
    Including restaurants (often McDonald’s or Subway).

Accommodation

I typically average 40% of my nights in campgrounds, 40% of my nights in hostels, and 20% of my nights in “Other”. An abundance of campgrounds, good weather, and a lack of hotels led to a substantial increase in camping. More than a few times I would have picked a hostel were one available given the cold and/or wet. On this trip:

  • 16 nights in campgrounds (averaging $14.74/night), 57%
  • 11 nights in hostels (averaging $23.69/night), 40%
  • 1 night at Kieran’s (Sam’s Dad)

Food

With food calculated in days instead of nights, over the course of the 30-day trip I spent $254 on food (meals, groceries, snacks, drinks, water), or $8.47/day, almost evenly divided between groceries and non-groceries ($4.43 was groceries). That’s substantially less than the $12/day on the Istanbul to Ireland trip. That decrease unfortunately derives in part from my low energy levels. I was just never eating enough. I also purchased a lot more of my food this trip in large supermarkets (decreasing the cost). Unlike the almost daily activity of the Istanbul to Ireland trip, I only purchased groceries every couple of days, in part because I had little fear of not finding a market.

Gear

I have honed my gear list over the years, and don’t make a lot of changes to it. That said, I always tweak things here and there.

My Mountain Hardwear down sleeping bag rides the ragged edge for warm enough for some nights in the British Isles. If I was thinking about it before I went to sleep, I’d throw my jacket over my feet, which made a big difference. But a couple of nights I woke up just enough to know I was cold, and not enough to do anything about it – miserable!

I wear sandals as my alternate footwear from bicycle shoes. They’re lightweight, and dry faster than a pair of tennis shoes. Years ago at the beach Marnie and I purchased cheap beach sandals. When I realized how light mine were, I used them to tour with, and they served me well for many years. When they wore out, I stole Marnie’s sandals and used those. For this tour I needed new sandals. When I was deployed with the Red Cross to the NC coast I picked up a new pair. It took a few days of shaving off sharp bits of plastic to get them to not rub on my feet, but after that they were great. Sadly, they died at the airport when jumping over a wall to get to the car. But if they were going to fail, it couldn’t have been at a better time.

Charging my phone in hostels is typically easy. I carry a two USB adaptor so I can always find a spot even on the most crowded power strip.  The past couple of tours I’ve also taken a 3500 mA USB battery to charge my phone. It serves as a backup in case I mistakenly run down the phone in the field, and I can charge the battery in the campground bathhouse at night instead of leaving my phone there overnight. While I never ran the 3500 mA battery out, I came close a few times. This trip I purchased a slightly larger (and heavier!) battery at 5000 mA. The campgrounds are doing their very best to remove all available power outlets, but with the slightly larger battery, careful battery management, and the extended life of a Droid Maxx, I never had any concerns for power this tour. Ireland uses a different power plug than the rest of Europe, but it’s worth carrying a European adapter because the bathhouses typically have a European outlet for electric shavers. I also found outlets behind the dryers.

There are a few things that are likely to not go on the next tour. While I had a waterproof plastic map case, I rarely used it.  On the flip side of that, I’ve got a waterproof phone case that mounts on the handlebars. I never used it, and it was always in the way. And even with the colder weather, I never really wore the cycle tights (which is good, because they’re at end-of-life anyway. The stitching on one of my panniers is starting to go.

Distances

Distance-wise, my odometer shows just a hair under 1,500 km for this trip. That’s fairly typical for one of my three-week tours, but it’s low for four weeks. I was never happy this tour with how far I cycled every day. The first few days were especially miserable before I adjusted the bicycle seat and/or broke the seat in a bit more, but my old seat is still more comfortable.

I averaged around 70 km, which I attribute to a number of factors. Nights were wet; packing up in the morning was slower than usual. Wales was really hilly; I spent a fair amount of time each day in Wales walking up hills. I also never really felt like my energy levels came up like I expected.

Many days I stopped at multiple sites; spending a lot of time at them certainly slowed me down. A quick check shows I visited a couple of abbeys, a few churches, and 34 castles (as well as a few along the way I never knew the name of).

Back to the mundanities of day-to-day life.

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