THINGS NOT TO DO ON A CYCLE TOUR
(A few insights gained from a recent bike tour through Ireland and Scotland)
1. When the forecast is for hurricane-force headwinds, go ahead with your planned day of cycling so you can keep to a schedule.What could possibly go wrong?
a. You get blown off your fully-loaded bike onto the street three times.
b. You develop a knee strain that threatens to end your trip after just two days of cycling.
c. You wind up having to spend several days recuperating in a town like Galway with an icepack on your knee and a cold Guinness in your hand (…maybe not such a bad thing).
2. Leave your bikes unlocked at night because you’re tired and anyway, they’re right outside the door of the room you rented below a bar.What could possibly go wrong?
a. While you’re sleeping, some drunken rowdies “borrow” your bikes and take them for a joyride and then ditch them a couple of miles down the road, minus your expensive tool set, and with enough damage that you have to limp along on one chain ring to another town with a decent bike repair shop.
b. You waste the next day tracking down your bikes and meeting with the local and county police who assure you that “this kind of thing never happens here, and please don’t let this give us (Killin, Scotland) a bad reputation with cyclists.”
3. When the owner of the B&B where you’re staying has the proverbial gift of gab (i.e., is full of non-stop blarney), make a point of asking her a question each time you see her, just to see how long she’ll blabber on and also to enjoy the look of utter horror on your travel partner’s face.What could possibly go wrong?
a. All the restaurants and bars may close before you can get away.
b. Your friend may consider killing you in your sleep.
4. When rain is approaching while you’re on your ride, look for one of the thousands of castle ruins for shelter.What could possibly go wrong?
a. None of the castle ruins have roofs, so you will
b. There’s no warmth, food, or beer at a castle ruin.
5. Go full-tilt, racing down a coarse gravel road while fully loaded because you’re so tired from all the uphill climbs that you intend to enjoy this respite, no matter what.What could possibly go wrong?
a. You will inevitably blow out a tube on a jagged rock, in a mosquito-infested forest, just as it starts to rain.
b. It will also be cold and muddy.
6. Try to actually use that fancy kickstand on your bike with fully-loaded front and rear panniers.What could possibly go wrong?
a. You’re on an extremely scenic mountain pass with soft ground along the side of the road – the perfect place for a lunch stop. As soon as you finish making a sandwich and are about to savor that first bite, a large gust of wind blows your bike over and you watch helplessly as it tumbles down the steep embankment.
b. Same outcome as a, any time you need a rest stop by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no place to lean your bike.
c. You’re on a busy city sidewalk attempting to quickly load your bike into the crowded luggage compartment of a bus before the other riders claim all the valuable space with their bags. Your front wheel turns, throwing the bike off-balance, sending it crashing to the pavement, and thereby putting you last in line. Now you get to rearrange the entire luggage space to make room for your bike.
d. Same outcome as c, in a crowded train station.
7. When you can’t stand the rain in Ireland any longer, you catch the ferry to Scotland to continue your tour.What could possibly go wrong?
a. Scotland is one of the few countries that averages more rain than Ireland.
b. Your bikes will be stolen while you sleep in a picturesque small town (see #2).
c. To get away from the rain on the Scottish mainland, you catch a ferry to the Orkneys and later on to the Shetland Islands. These are purportedly the rainiest parts of Scotland. However, in a weird twist of fate you get some of the best weather of the trip and the scenery is fantastic!