I hadn’t planned to write in the blog, but I’ve been hiding from the rain in this KFC for half an hour and we’ve still got at least an hour until our Warm Showers host is home from work. George is crawling around after his green Hot Wheels race car with one shoe on, and a sock in his mouth, and Katy is in the bathroom drying her socks with the hand dryer. Before going into the bathroom, which the Irish just call the toilets (on the flight into Dublin their was an announcement: no smoking in the toilets – ha), Katy rolled her eyes and said, “I can’t believe I took three weeks off work to avoid the rain in a KFC.” Whether the first day of a 3 week tour, or the last day of a ten month tour, rain is rain. My knee is throbbing a bit, because we chose the 75km route through the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Sally Gap, instead of the 44km that would have brought us to the same destination over level ground. My fingers are half covered in grease, because we weren’t more than 40 minutes outside of Dublin when our cranksets came to a grinding halt on a steep road in heavy traffic.
As the cranksets came to a dead halt, we both jumped off the bike. Somehow, the chain had wedged itself between the small and middle rings, and despite pulling with all my strength, and cursing with all my imagination (feckin eejit), I couldn’t dislodge the chain. We were on a narrow road, lined with rock walls and a tall hedge, as most roads were today, but after walking our bike 50 meters we found a pull off out of traffic. We unhitched the trailer, which woke George, removed all the panniers, flipped the tandem over, and as I began loosening our crankset to fix the chain problem, Katy took the task of watching George. George is pure energy; always on the move. Each time Katy came to help me hold the bike, or provide some leverage, George would grab some small stones and put them in his mouth. He’d then gag, and cough them up. It’s impossible to repair a bike and watch that boy at the same time. Unfortunate for us, George first learned to eat with his hands at daycare when he’d scrounge up any cheerios or puffs dropped to the floor by his classmates in their highchairs. He’s an on-the-go garbage disposal. Whenever he sees anything that resembles a cheerio, they go right in his mouth.
The first 5 hours today were beautiful. Sunny skies. Beautiful scenery. We climbed above the tree line (which is rather low) and rode along a rather barren, tundra-like landscape, before crossing Sally Gap and spending the rest of the day between rock walls, on roads wide enough for one and a half cars, with sheep everywhere. Baa. Then the rain came. It’s a pretty chilly rain, to be honest, with temps in the 50s. George slept right through the storm and woke up when the sun was coming out. He does pretty well in the trailer. We cycled for about 7 hours today, and he was content for all but about 15 minutes of it. He sleeps. He looks at . . . . well I’m not really sure what, but he’s looking at something from his spot in the trailer. As long as he gets to crawl in the dirt every hour or so, he’s a happy cyclist.
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Finally got to our WS host home, the Dempseys. Had a great dinner with Eimear, Roisin, Grainne and Jim. How about those Irish names? The shower was warm. Dinner was delightful. Nothing beats a long day in the saddle, with something to push you just out of your comfort zone (rain, mountains, mechanical issues) followed up by a warm welcome from a complete stranger, a quick shower, changing into mostly clean clothes and then a long meal and conversation about a country and a people you know so little about. George cruised the floor playing with a few toys, and then crashed to sleep in my arms. He’s an exhausting, and exhausted, little boy.