Friday, March 18
We had made tentative plans to go biking on Saturday, but upon waking up Friday morning, the weather forecast looked significantly better for Friday than Saturday. It was supposed to be extremely windy on Saturday.
So, we called to reserve bikes from a local rental place for later that same afternoon instead.
We didn’t have any big plans for the morning, though, so we decided to all walk down my sister’s country lane (the opposite direction from the St. Patty’s night walk). There is an older lady and family who live way down at the far end, who my sister’s family knows well. We set out to go say “hi”, basically, and get some fresh air and enjoy a walk.
It was, amazingly, another blue sky day!!!
We all set out, the whole family- kids, us, my parents, and my sister and brother-in-law. There are sheep and lots of other “country stuff” to look at along the way. We took our time, and it was just a nice, relaxing walk.
Obviously, we do not live in the country at home, so the boys liked stopping to say hello to the animals.
After a certain point, the walk was along the water (bay). Very pretty!!
Once there, we just chatted with the older woman outside for a while. She’s very friendly (I believe originally from England?) and she seemed to like seeing the kids, our boys and visiting with my parents. I’d met her before on my first trip to my sister’s. She also has a friendly dog, who was as thrilled to chase sticks as the boys were to throw them for him repeatedly. 🙂
We then meandered back home. I think the boys ran ahead. It was a very relaxing, enjoyable morning.
By this point it was lunchtime. We just had a light meal of cheese/crackers/cold cuts on the patio- had to take advantage of the good weather.
Picking up rental bikes/ shuttle to Achill
After lunch, the “biking crew” (= me, Ivan, boys + my Dad + my brother-in-law + the 2 girls (ages 4 and 6)) packed up some water and set out. (My mom, sister and 2 year old nephew were staying home this time. We were planning to bike around 20 miles/ 31 kilometers!)
Those of us who do not live in Ireland obviously did not have bikes along with us. I packed many, many things, but a bike was not one of them. 😉 So, we drove into town and went to the bike company to pick up our rentals!
The nice bike shop man fitted us all for our bikes and outfitted us with helmets.
Then, the four of us (plus my Dad) piled into a shuttle van to be driven out to the town of Achill, which would be our starting point.
After getting dropped off, the plan was to then bike the 20 miles/31 km back to town (to the bike shop & our waiting car). (My sister drove my brother-in-law and the girls out to drop them off, with their own bikes.)
We drove through some beautiful country on the way out.
The Great Western Greenway
Once we arrived, the man unloaded our bikes and we were ready to go!
We crossed the street and picked up the trail!
“The Great Western Greenway” is one of Ireland’s greenways, or big bike trails. There are various others around the country- this one runs through the Western part of Ireland. It’s a very popular tourist attraction and draws many people, especially more local tourists/ people from the UK, out to this part of Ireland.
It’s sooooo pretty!! And really a fantastic trail. It’s great that they have installed and maintained this- biking through this area was stunning.
The first section had water views for a long time. Just breathtaking.
My little nieces were pedaling away furiously- not bad for two little peanuts!!
They both biked the ENTIRE 20 miles, on their little bikes with no “speeds” to shift. Fortunately, they started biking at a very young age and are great bikers. Remember, only 4 and 6!!
(Like my boys, the girls first learned to ride on Strider balance bikes. My boys never ONCE used training wheels- that’s how amazing balance bikes are! Highly recommend getting your kids balance bikes if you have little ones. Start them around 18 months/ 2 years old! After using a balance bike for a while, Asher just hopped on a regular pedal bike at age 3 and rode away, no training wheels, no falls, no issues. Anyway! Back to our bike trip.)
We took water breaks now and then, but for the most part, we just biked.
Eventually we moved away from the water, and the views became more hilly, country views.
There were plenty of sheep, and cows, to look at as we rode by. The scenery was just gorgeous.
The only negative thing is that the wind really started to pick up!! It wasn’t horrible, but it definitely would have been nicer if the wind had dialed back a little…. Of course, wind always makes it feel a bit colder, too. I was pretty comfortable though in my fleece type jacket.
Eventually we came to a little town with a rest stop area overlooking the water on the other side, opposite from the trail. There was a gas station where we bought some ice cream cones and just took a break for a bit at the picnic tables.
The views from the little picnic area were STUNNING.
After a break, we hit the trail again. Honestly, toward the end, my booty was getting really sore! Ha! I’ll admit, I don’t normally do a lot of biking (especially not during the winter in Wisconsin), and my “butt bones” were letting me know. 🙂
We rode through some more lush type areas, with various streams and greenery.
There were only a couple small mishaps on the trip. Both girls did end up falling off their bikes at one point or another! LOL! The younger one I think kind of crashed into her sister once, who had stopped rather suddenly, and ended up skidding and tipping over. Then later, the older one hit some gravel on the trail, causing her tire to veer off to the side….sending her down into the ditch. She ended up in tears, on the ground and covered in mud- but thankfully, no injuries!! Phew. Just needed some auntie hugs, tears wiped away and she was good as new. 😉
We also did end up getting totally separated from the boys and Ivan. The girls, while such great little bikers, are not….super fast bikers. 😉 Obviously! They are young and have small legs. So, the boys and Ivan ended up riding way ahead, because it can actually be surprisingly hard/ awkward to ride at such a slow, unnatural pace. I told them to just go on and keep moving at their own speed, and my Dad and I hung back with my brother-in-law and the girls.
I love this picture of the girls and this cool bridge, toward the end of the ride!
We finally made it back to town, turned in the bikes and drove home.
We were all STARVING, and fortunately, my sister had a delicious meal of Mexican-style pulled pork, rice and pico de gallo waiting for us! What an awesome host. 🙂
The rest of the night we just hung around the house. They built a nice fire in the wood stove, and after the little kids went to bed, we all watched a movie in the living room.
We watched the older movie Angels and Demons (based on the Dan Brown book), at my sister’s suggestion. If you’ve seen it (or read the book), you’ll know it takes place in Rome! And with our Rome portion of the trip coming up yet, she thought it might be fun for the boys to see some of the sights in advance. A little…gory, perhaps, in some parts but, eh, whatever. They had already watched Gladiator. They were fine. 😉
And that’s a wrap on Friday!! The bike trip ended up being a real highlight of our week. Just seeing the countryside from that unique vantage point, and being truly immersed in it, was so cool.
Saturday would be our last day at my sister’s before moving on- I couldn’t believe the week was almost over!