I have decided to do something different, something out of the ordinary and a wee bit on the extreme side. The winter is coming, and tourists are leaving the European shores for warmer climate, like the migratory birds. Going into their warm houses, with heating of some kind, and looking dreamily through the window into rain covered trees.
But why should I just look from the warm comforts? Isn’t one of points of life to challenge yourself your psychological and physical self ?
Thats why I have decided to travel in winter time cross Ireland, northern Ireland and up north through Scottish isles.
And the reason of writing this blog post? To help others in their planning, ideas and maybe even some inspiration.
Part 1: General plan
How to get to my starting point?
I will be flying to Ireland from Switzerland with my own bicycle, therefore I had to make some arrangements. A lot of times cyclists seem to take boxes (and are forced to take them by airlines) either from cardboard or purpose made for cycling.
Since I will be doing a very long one direction tour I found an airline (AerLingus) that takes bicycles without the need for any box. However they do suggest protecting the derailleur, and of course to align handlebar so it is less wide, and potentially invert the pedals. This policy is in place at least for the time of writing (October 2019), so just in case do double check, since changes in regards to bicycles do seem to happen and are not always clear.
My cycle starting point will be in Killarney, and the flight is only to Dublin. Due to I’ll be taking a train after my arrival to Killarney from Dublin Heuston station. It should take only beetwen 3-3:30 hours to get there (with maximum one train change).
After a good night sleep I’ll start my journey proper.
Throughout the Irish & Northern Irish part of the trip I will cycle about 750-800km. Every second or third day I plan to have a free day or a bit more of an exploratory day.
Part 2: How to prepare for this kind of trip?
It will be cold, windy, drizzly and rainy. It is important to be adequately prepared for such a sustained effort in this conditions.
I have decided upon the following set for the cycling part:
- 2-3 Merino base layers
- 2 Winter thermal Merino jerseys
- 1 wind/water proof lightweight jacket
- Several neck-warmers and balaclava just in case
- 2 winter hats
- performance socks for winter time (Merino mixed with some synthetics)
- 1 winter bib
- 1 late fall (15C) bib with long base layer for legs
Since I wanted to ease my pain a bit I upgraded to following parts on the bike
- PD-EH 500 hybrid pedals
- SFC3 seat for a bit more comfy ride
- couple of water proof bike rag bags
- Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour tires
- couple of smaller security fixes
Due to uncertainty of distance and weather, I decided on a route that has villages at relatively regular intervals. For first couple of days everything is sorted, but after that it will be seen on a per day basis.
But most of the time it will be combination of Hostels, family run BnB’s and in worst case hotels.
Hopefully it helps someone at least a little bit into planning something similar.