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MotoSolo 2016 - Africa Twin to Ireland

I end up on the west coast of Ireland, Gweedore is highly recommended.

Only 350 miles back home, this is turning in to a Top Gear Challenge...

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I’m lured to a garage selling hot drinks and chocolate, the lady asks…. “How are you?.....where you going?......where you from? Good grief. Locals visiting the shop all say hello and the mechanic asks about the bike, where I am staying, how long I am here…… He also gives me directions to my hotel, which oddly is only 10 miles away.  I sit in the picnic area and soak up some sun, it wont last forever. 

I ride back along the R251 to the Poison Glen and stop by the Old Church of Dunlewey (now a ruin), for photos and a smoke break. The remaining part of the road is a joy to ride, it’s almost hard to stop when I see the An Chuirt Gweedore Court Hotel, but I can hear a pint and the pool calling me.

Reception  are super-friendly and ask me to park Toto in their staff -only secure area, marvellous. I’m early, my room won’t be ready until 4pm,  so that calls for my first ever Guinness. I take a half in case I hate it, but it goes down a bit too well. The barman tells me it tastes different in Ireland. By the end of the second half, I decide Guinness is an acquired taste but pleased I tried it. I drop all my gear in the room and I’m off to the pool.

‘Human soup’ comes to mind as I cook in the Jacuzzi at what must be 50 degrees,  when I’m part-boiled, I try the massage jets in the pool, the sauna and another stint in the Jacuzzi.  When I can’t take any more, it’s time for steak, a couple of beers and an early night. Weather forecast is terrible for tomorrow, but on the plus side, this hotel would be far better for the zombie apocalypse.

Right enough I wake to angry rain, big nasty rain. I nip to the smoking gazebo after a hearty breakfast, an old guy asks me where I am going, I explain I need to be in Larne for 4pm – he smirks and tells me to go back the way I came on the R251, it’s a long way. I tell him I intend to carry on the N56 to Killybegs – He chuckles and doubts I will make it to Larne for 4pm especially as it’s so wet.

I stick to my plan and pick up the N56 south to Ardara then to Kellybegs, the rain has stopped, although the roads are wet, the scenery and quietness of the roads makes this exciting. I nip off the N56 to the Wild Atlantic Way through Clooney, Naran to Ardara, back on the N56 to Donegal.  It’s here that my sinus / bowels let go as I notice the time 12.15pm. WTF? I check the map; I’ve 4 pages to ride to Larne! Sh*t !

I’m full up after breakfast, so grab a coffee at a garage and I’m away. This is now a Top Gear challenge. The N15 looks like a main road but only has tiny sections of duel carriageway.  I pass through many small villages and towns as I head for Derry, car drivers pull in for me, and I pick up the A5 then A6, keeping what I think is a good pace and eventually stop at a garage near Dungiven for coffee. The sign says Belfast is 60 km away, that’s fine. Oh, hang on I’m, back in NI, so that’s 60 miles then about 10 more to Larne. Bugger.  Off I go…..

At 3.45pm I arrive at the ferry in glorious sunshine. I chat to other bikers and board 10 minutes later – phew. Toto enjoys a rest as I take my Starbucks on the deck in the sun and wave goodbye to Ireland. It’s been a blast. As the ferry docks, I’m feeling tired, but have another 170 miles to ride back to Newcastle. Before I even hit the A75, the rain starts and it stays with me. I stop for a smoke under trees and this last part of my adventure becomes a test of wills – it’s me and Toto against the rain and wind. I throw down the gauntlet – Bring it on.

100 miles later, I am soaked. I mean, really soaked. The words of my wife ring in my ears… “Are you sure you don’t want your waterproof liners?”  I fuel up at Gretna and ride the short section of the M6 which is manic. By Brampton this is becoming an obsessive ride, I now cant get any wetter, I am almost grinding my teeth in determination as I ride.  Just after Hexham the rain stops and I ride the last few miles back home. I arrive at 10pm, very wet and with 746 miles done in 3 days. A hot shower, cold glass of wine and I can’t keep my eyes open…..

Ireland has been kind to me; the lovely people, weather and roads all made this a seriously good mini-adventure.  I’ll definitely go back to ride the rest of the N56 and the Wild Atlantic Way. Toto didn’t miss a beat, supremely comfortable I’ve no aches the next day and at £3.5k cheaper than a 1200GS, you’ll be mad not to try one. MotoSolo? Doing what you want and exploring on your own is actually more fun than I thought, I wouldn’t hesitate to go it alone again. “till next time, Slán go fóill.

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MotoSolo 2016 to ireland

Entering the National Park area.

MotoSolo 2016 to ireland

Coffee and chocolate stop.

MotoSolo 2016 to ireland

It would be rude not to....

MotoSolo 2016 to ireland

Craggy Mountain? Probably not.

MotoSolo 2016 to ireland

Cheers Ireland, it's been a blast!