I woke to rain. As a general policy I don’t cycle out in rain; I took my time getting up, and chatted with two German backpackers. I talked with one of them last night. They’re hiking and then taking a train or bus to another area of Ireland for more hiking. I also talked with an English woman last night, camping while she hunts for a house. In both case I was hanging out in the common shelter area of the campground, a facility lacking in other countries, and welcome in Ireland, both from the opportunity to meet people, and a dry place to hang out during inclement weather. The English woman actually relocated there to sleep the night before when her tent failed in extreme rain.
As the rain abated, I moved my tent onto the porch of the shelter to pack from a dry location, with the two German guys doing the same thing. When the rain finally stopped I headed out, almost immediately greeted by a slow mist. I received a gift from the English woman last night – one of those neon yellow safety vests. I normally don’t worry about such things, but after the dark day and mists I felt grateful for the offer.
Within 15 minutes mist converted to driving rain, and by the time I reached Eniscorthy I had enough. I waited in the alcove of a closed store waiting for the castle to open, and when I found the reception served also as the local Tourist Information, I asked about accommodation. As we worked our way through limited options (with a music festival in town), the sky cleared. Only one hotel offered rooms, at $90/night. Given that the forecast for tomorrow looked wet, I had hoped to find a place I could potentially setting for a couple of days, but unhappy with that price, the sky clearing and the rain stopped, I headed on.
As I made the next turn for Rathdrum, everything suddenly became cold and hilly. I realized a few things: the road headed into rolling hills; my new path turned away from my tailwind; I didn’t have any particular reason to head to Rathdrum, a small town also poor to hunker down in for bad weather tomorrow. Reviewing the map, from where I stood the distance to my planned destination tomorrow, and my destination today, matched, except my destination tomorrow fell directly in-line with the tailwind. Following the tailwind also let me follow the weather, staying in the clear (dry) spot, a trick I learned from previous trips to Ireland. The remainder of the day storm clouds lay ahead, and sun and blue skies lay behind, giving me the chance to enjoy the day. I pulled into the campground near Athy under sunny skies.
The exceedingly friendly camp host then spent the next hour asking me about US politics. Deftly dodging those on abortion, and avoiding gay marriage, I enjoyed talking to him. I’ve had discussions with four different sets of people in the last couple of days. It’s refreshing to have returned to an friendly English-speaking baseline.
I’m taking a path across the center of Ireland because I haven’t been this way before. Of course, I now know why – few campgrounds and hostels exist in the center of Ireland, with big gaps between them. Normally not an issue, I have less time to cycle (and thus more limits on distance) if I stop to avoid rain, which looks to be a regular occurrence in the upcoming forecasts.
Tomorrow I will want to see what the weather brings before I depart. I’m in no hurry.