Emerald Isle by Ural

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tarka, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

    May 10, 2007
    Across the pond.
    Hi everyone....I recently posted this Ride report on UKGSer and it was very well received.
    Someone suggested you guys over here may enjoy it ,so here it is....my first Ride report on ADVrider.

    (To help avoid any confusion,the 'weird names' appearing occasionally which you might not recognise are Usernames on UKGSer).

    Part the first…reasons and whyfores.

    There`s all sorts of waffle and rambling in this Ride Report…and it`s taken me forever to write it....but seeing as most of you will likely be sat at home with the heating on…slippers afoot and cocoa to hand….maybe that won`t be a bad thing.
    Also,Ogmios assures me that waffling and rambling through a tale is a good thing brought on by fine Guinness and pure fresh Irish air.

    Make yourself comfy,reach for the chocolate HobNobs and read on…..

    So there I was,sat in KevinC`s living room just over a week ago,clutching a mug of coffee and filling my face with a Sayers ‘cheese devil’ and an ice bun…a pink ice bun,nonetheless…to which I`m strangely addicted.

    ‘When`s your next bike trip or event,then?`, Kevin asked.

    This is quite commonly asked of me nowadays,due to my many attendances at bike shows and rallies as well as me taking several Continental bike holidays a year.

    I replied that I had nothing planned for certain in the near future but that I had a six day ‘off roster’ period due near the end of the month and that I still had terrible wanderlust despite having visited France,the Belgian Ardennes and Luxembourg only six weeks ago (in fact,it was during my previous six day off roster period in October…).
    I commented that one thing that had always been in my mind,yet I`d never done,was to visit Ireland and in the previous few weeks the idea of a short trip had started to germinate.
    I`d read books,studied maps and often spoken to an Irish guy in work about the country,the scenery and the people…yet in over twenty years of biking holidays I`d never been.
    Recently,the balance had tipped in favour of me actually getting around to an Irish trip due to me watching and rewatching a Nick Saunders video where he tours Ireland on a Triumph fitted with a sidecar.
    The film showed him riding down shimmering wet lanes with the sidecar wheel splashing through puddles,as well as some historical information, tremendous scenery and some fascinating people.
    Perhaps him being on a combo tumbled the idea into a plan at seedling stage,for I conjoured up mental images of me riding one of my Ural combos along the country lanes,arriving at small villages and harbours and stopping at tiny cafes and bars.
    The fact that his visit was also in November made it inevitable that I was going to Ireland during the six day off roster period……………………………..

    November may not be many people`s choice for a bike tour of Ireland….nor anywhere else for that matter...but I probably ride more from Autumn to late Spring than I do during Summer.
    I`m uncomfortable in hot weather and can`t cool down easily.
    I don`t sunbathe and usually end up sat indoors until the heat of the day has passed and the evening approaches.
    On the other hand,I feel a tingle of excitement and a lust for adventure when the Autumn approaches and am never happier than on a crisp,clear,frosty morning.
    The Autumn colours always give great pleasure,and another big plus is that the roads and places of interest are much quieter without the summer tourist lemmings cramming everywhere.

    On a whim,I sent a PM to Aidan1150 for advice and suggestions regarding a ‘possible…but nothing planned’ trip.
    Aidan and I had met extremely briefly at a UKGSer meet in Llangollen and stayed loosely in touch since then.
    Before I knew it there was an invitation to stay with him and his wife Mandy …otherwise known as Mandylicious…at their house,and with him meeting me en route…as well as a suggested mini tour of the Northern Coast and a phone number for a good ferry ticket sales company.
    This company was Nutt Travel and I can recommend them highly.
    I say that I can recommend them highly,because the next day I booked and paid for an HSS sailing from Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire with them.

    I WAS GOING TO IRELAND !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :clap

    Although my initial thoughts were to tour some of the South as inspired by the Nick Saunders video,there wasn`t really sufficient time to do much of that area justice,and Aidan`s descriptions of the Antrim Coast and intimate knowledge of the ‘boreens’ (narrow country lanes) made his offer of the mini tour far too good to miss.
    I wanted to see rugged and picturesque coastline,ride narrow lanes and maybe take in some mountain tracks….all this was presented to me by Aidan.

    Yup…after twenty odd years of thinking and talking about visiting Ireland,in the space of three days I`d gone from ‘pondering’ to actually GOING.

    Now then…it doesn`t matter if I`ve got a week or only a few hours to get sorted for a holiday…..I still end up sorting and packing my clothes at 1am on the morning of my departure.
    That I can handle,but when at 1am on the morning of departure the chosen VEHICLE hasn`t been decided on,things are going a bit mad.
    Why the indecision???
    Well……if you know my paranoia about dirty bikes and my obsession about clean ones you`ll need no explanation.
    For those who don`t know……despite me riding a bike every day,in all weather,I cannot STAND seeing my bike dirty.
    That`s partly why I own several bikes…some for any reason and any weather,some for special reasons and some only ever venturing out if they`re guaranteed of coming home as clean as they set off.
    But sometimes the ‘clean use only’ bikes are more suited to a trip than the ‘any weather’ ones……hmmm,a conundrum and procrastinating time ensues.
    It`s hard to fully explain to those not suffering from this disorder,but it involves the difference between a bike possibly getting dirty while out on a pleasant day`s ride and just needing a quick clean to restore….as opposed to the certainty of it getting covered in mud/cow poo/sheep poo/pig poo and it baking on over several days to become almost impossible to fully shift after several days of this.
    Or the added trauma of winter road salt and gunge etching its way into all metalwork.
    The results of such filth on my previously clean bike can cause physical and mental unrest,stress and loss of sleep……seriously!

    I was definitely going to go on one of my Ural combos due to the impression made on me by the Nick Saunders video.
    My 750 Ural still needs more miles on her to settle her in…so the trip would do that.
    There are some big open A roads involved in traveling to Holyhead and back (likewise between ‘interesting’ points on Aidan`s suggested route)…so that would be ideal for the 750 too…..it can hold its own on any busy dual carriageway or motorway.
    It`s a lovely two tone paint with much chromework and was sure to get dirty this time of year on rural roads…but as my Dad rightly said,there wouldn`t be anything a few buckets of water couldn`t shift.

    But I kept looking at her and imagining the effects of four or five days worth of rain/mud/slurry......


    Dad was quite right though....it would only take a few buckets of water and a sponge.........

    So I finally decided.

    I was going on my 650 Ural.


    (Note...she`s since been fitted with a Dnepr leading link front end,hence differences in later photos)

    Heh heh…to justify this decision,you need to know that I`m a hopeless romantic about my bikes.

    The 650….known as Skaya and referred to as such throughout this report.. had a hard life and suffered neglect and abuse at the hands of a previous owner (are you reading this,Schiannini??? :evil ).
    It took lots of care and attention to bring her back to pretty reliable daily use and she`s been worked hard but has provided loyal service since I got her back on the road a few years ago.
    She lives outside in all weather,takes me to work and back almost every day,does all the shopping runs and tip runs (I don`t have a car),has been all over England and Wales to rallies and shows and even done two rider training days and an off-road adventure day.

    Because of this,she deserved a holiday!

    She…and I…were going on holiday….. to Ireland. :wink:

    And I wouldn`t loose sleep at seeing her getting dirty……:D


    Part the second….pondering the wisdom of it all.

    Friday 21st November 2008

    4.40 am

    Quick wash,gulp some Orange Juice and scoff some mixed nuts and berries.
    Finish packing.
    Throw holdall into sidecar.
    Open driveway gates and wheel Skaya out.
    Bike kit on.
    Lock up house.
    Walk around corner to Skaya.
    Climb aboard and away we go.

    The previous day`s forecasts gave extreme weather warnings for today and Aidan advised me to check with Stena Line about possible HSS cancellations….none were stated or predicted,fortunately.

    One thing that was predicted was snow.

    Urallers laugh in the face of snow but Aidan sounded a tad concerned on the phone and within moments of this discovery was suddenly unable to meet me at Dun Laoghaire…saying he needed to work partway through today…yet would still kindly meet me partway to his home.

    It`s 5.30 am and pitch black.
    I`m riding unlit country lanes but the Ural headlamp is pretty good…better on these roads than the stock single headlamp on my R1100GS was.
    There`s a fair wind blowing but doesn`t seem a problem and I`m barreling along the traffic free lanes …taking some bends flat out in top gear.
    Mind you,they`re fairly easy at 55mph.

    Leave the Wirral,and ride down the ‘Welsh Road’ towards Queensferry then join the A55 for the slog to Holyhead.
    This to me is a most boring run….on or in any vehicle…but today it became thrilling.
    The forecasted strong Northerly winds were extremely strong…actually stronger than Skaya was at times!!
    Well,look at her…she`s hardly aerodynamic,is she?
    She`s intended to be used on unsurfaced or poorly surfaced tracks,as a utilitarian workhorse…not an A road/motorway blaster.
    The 650 engine only develops 37hp and although torquey enough and with well enough thought out gearing/torque curve to manage the same speeds with three people and luggage as with one person and no luggage,big hills and strong winds simply knock the stuffing out of it.
    I actually ended up flat out in 3rd gear (out of 4),head down low and feet on the pillion footrests just to maintain 40/45mph!!!
    The wind felt strong enough to tear me from the handlebars…it was a full on headwind and I was fighting it with all my strength.
    To add to the struggle some very heavy rain came belting down,but only for about ten miles or so.
    It was all looking like being a thoroughly miserable trip and I did start to wonder about it.

    Those of a nervous disposition had better skip to the next bit.
    Those seeking a laugh can read on,but keep your drinks clear from your keyboards.

    I`d read about ‘Mr Cob’ the Ural guru in America tailgating ‘big rigs’ to make use of the slipstream effect.
    Obviously it`s potentially hazardous,but he manouevred so the drivers could see him and they always seemed to know what he was wanting to do and they had no bother with it.
    After all,they do it themselves to other trucks so must appreciate the help it gives.

    A big lorry came bearing down on me as even in his restricted vehicle he had about 10mph advantage on me.
    The wind noticeably smoothed out and Skaya accelerated as he passed so I tucked in.
    There was no hint of a ‘safety gap’ of course,so I moved over until I could see the driver`s face in his mirror.
    He saw me,and I made a side to side motion then tucked in again.
    When I moved back out to see his mirror I got the thumbs up so we were ‘wind assisted’ to a heady 56mph!!
    All in a shadowy gloom due to my headlamp`s low beam filament fracturing and high beam not being appreciated by the truckers whose air cushion I was riding.
    Feeling uncomfortable about limited forward vision and the lack of a safety gap I let myself fall behind a bit……what a mistake....the wind tore at me again and I slowed to an agonizing 40mph on a hill that I didn`t know existed on the A55.

    Luckily another lorry got bigger in my mirrors and I repeated the Mr Cob procedure again.
    The driver was aware of what I wanted to and as I moved in close behind,Skaya gained about 15mph.
    I cruised effortlessly nearly all the way to Holyhead in this manner and was prepared to buy the driver a cuppa at the ferry terminal but he turned off a few miles before.

    07.40am Woohoo !! I`m at the Stena Line check in!!
    After checking in and getting pulled over by Customs/Police/Who-ever-they-were who wanted to know the ins and outs of a duck`s arse,then made me fill in a questionnaire and then scanned my driving license,I bought myself the UK`s most expensive paper cup of simulated coffee to celebrate at least getting this far unscathed and under my own power!
    And on time,ahem!



    Part the third…….(same day)…all aboard the good ship HSS

    Boarding a sea ferry and securing my bike has always been very stressful for me,especially the times I took my super shiny ‘polishing fetish’ red R1100GS.
    I`d get a freak on about any other bike being too close…whether or not someone would open a car door against the tank…would it fall over..would the straps mark the seat or wear the paint anywhere,etc etc.
    I care for and maintain Skaya but I have no preciousness about the odd mark/chip/ding so I boarded the HSS with a free and easy mind.
    The loadmaster was pondering where to attach a securing strap,and I suggested using the offside crashbar.
    He didn`t want to damage the chrome,fair enough….but he added that he really wanted the strap to go right over the combo for stability.
    I had to laugh at this latter suggestion and concern,and said not to be bothered about it,because if the sea was rough enough to tip Skaya over, we`d all be going down to the bottom of the sea with her ,heh heh.
    He wasn`t very amused at this,and went off to tie something else down elsewhere.

    08.55 am saw the HSS released from the space age clamp system that attaches it to Holyhead harbour and away we went ahead of two huge columns of pumped water jet.
    The HSS is effectively a huge catamaran powered by two massive gas turbines that function rather like a jetski engine,pumping water at high velocity to propel the vessel at great speed.
    Two big water jet deflectors allow the massive craft to turn in its own length when docking or manouevering in the harbour.
    The crossing started off a bit rough but soon settled into a peaceful blend of £9.60 breakfast,book reading and £1.85 cups of coffee.


    Part the fourth…….(same day) …my introduction to Irish road signs.

    Only about two hours later and I`m riding off the HSS and heading for the M50 motorway which is effectively a ring road around Dublin (it`s not a proper ‘ring’ as half of it is missing due to half of Dublin facing the sea,but I`m sure you understand).
    Although I actively avoid motorways,Aidan`s advice was to ride the M50 around Dublin until I reached the N2 (like a mainland A road) and use the N2 up to where he lived near Newry.
    Look at the map and it`s simple enough.
    Until you start using the road signs,that is.
    The ‘M50 straight ahead’ signs soon vanished…..then reappeared as ‘M50,M7,M4’ to left and ‘M50,N2’ to right……..then disappeared completely.
    Anyway….a comprehensive tour of almost every traffic light junction,side street and shopping area of Dublin later,I was trundling along the N2 without seeing the M50.
    Ah well…I never did like motorways,heh heh.
    And I got to see what is quite a nice city…..
    Actually,I don`t seem to have taken too long crossing Dublin, and I made good progress up the N2 towards Dundalk.
    I crossed the River Boyne at Slane and rode up the Hill of Slane.


    At Ardee I stopped to text Aidan that I was less than an hour from our proposed meeting point.
    At this point my mobile phone battery decided to run of charge,despite me fully charging it the night before.
    A few failed and panicky attempts with payphones followed,then one very helpful Post Office worker lent me his mobile,and Aidan agreed to meet me at Omeath as I said I wanted to ride around the Carlingford Mountain peninsula.


    Part the fifth……..Now this is starting to look like what I came for…..and the meeting.
    (same day)

    R173 road Dundalk –Carlingford Mountain peninsula

    This was more like it….not country lane but a quietish narrow road,sea to one side,and leading to views of distant mountain range across the Carlingford Lough.
    I rode the R173/R175 and tracks right to the end of the peninsula even though I had to double back due to the harbour not being a thoroughfare but the views were worth it.



    The mountain range was the dark and mysterious Mourne Mountains…very imposing.


    Riding along towards Omeath I saw a bike approaching in the opposite direction,then a flashing of multiple lamps and a wave revealed it to be Aidan on his R1150GS.
    We stopped in a layby to greet each other,both grinning like Cheshire Cats,then went to a filling station where he was enthralled and amused by Skaya`s reverse gear.

    There was still a couple of hours daylight left,so Aidan suggested a bit of a ride around and off we went.

    We went up a steep and narrow track.


    On the way up we had a fantastic view over Warrenpoint and across Carlingford Lough towards the Mourne Mountains.


    The view from the top was fantastic,we could see on one side over Warrenpoint and the Mourne Mountains…and the other side showing Dundalk Bay. Behind us was Newry and Slieve Gullion.
    A quite amazing viewpoint,even on this less than totally clear day.
    Even though standing up was very difficult due to the strong winds.
    Photography was a bit tricky too,as the camera was being moved about in my hands.


    We dropped down and visited the Long Woman`s Grave.

    What a sad fable is attached to this..............


    There`s some tidying up going on there at the moment...here`s Aidan looking small for a change.


    Next we went along some tracks and crossed a few main roads to reach Slieve Gullion Forest Park.
    This was wonderful and I wish I`d stopped to photograph the first section through the trees,as we soon were above tree level.
    It was very reminiscent of the Welsh Clocainog Forest and in a similar fashion car rallies are held there.
    I think Aidan said it was a eight mile loop….I really enjoyed this ride and would happily do it again.
    We returned to more normal roads and reached Aidan`s home in darkness.


    Part the sixth (or sick in Mandy`s case :augie )…..Friday night`s excess.

    (still the same day)

    Oh dear….there`s a slightly scandalous Thread about this particular evening.
    Here it was under construction......


    Events started okay enough.
    Mandy is really lovely and it was great to meet her.
    Aidan and Mandy have a very nice home,and I soon settled in and got freshened up.

    I decided not to use their bath though....:evil :evil :rofl


    They have two beautiful dogs…nice friendly Dalmations…and it wasn`t long before the ‘paw game’ and the ‘stroke game’ was going on, with both vying for my attention.
    Their cat popped in for a look at the stranger … Aidan calls it Harry the Bastard. :rofl

    A glass of red wine was offered …..and gladly accepted….and we had a few giggles at some gifts I took for them.



    Then the Chinese takeaway menu was consulted,more wine was consumed, and we walked down to get our meals…..and some more wine,of course.
    The night passed very quickly and pleasantly,in the finest tradition of a swirl of Chinese food,lots of wine,a quantity of Amaretto and much talking of bollox.


    .......................TO BE CONTINUED..................................

  2. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

    May 10, 2007
    Across the pond.
    Here we go again.......


    Part the seventh….Saturday 22nd November 2008.

    Larne-Antrim Coast-Ballycastle-Portrush-Portsteward-Coleraine-Culdaff-Buncrana

    Following a wonderfully comfortable night`s sleep and a delicious ‘Tuned In approved’ lax-approach-to-vegetarianism bacon batch and boiled eggs courtesy of Mandy,we set off towards the Antrim Coast.
    Aidan thought it best to take a direct main road route to reach the coast North of Belfast,and once we were on the A3 towards Antrim he waved me in front…and I promptly set a Ural 650 Land Speed Record of not far off 60mph !!!

    The day was dry (though with a forboding sky in the distance) but still windy.
    In fact,a blooming strong wind was blowing…resulting in a repeat of the battering headwind from yesterday as Skaya struggled along the wide open A26 and A57 which were the best choice to reach the Antrim Coast while avoiding the traffic hassle of Belfast.
    I felt guilty about Aidan making possibly the slowest bike ride of his life,but we`d discussed the speed factor and my desire to tour on Skaya before the trip became a reality and on the other hand,he was probably getting about 100mpg from his GS !

    Things settled once we reached Larne,and then Skaya became happier and I became ecstatic when we joined the A2 Coast Road.
    This was fabulous….a true classic coast road literally alongside the sea.
    The wind stayed strong all day but there was no more battling a full on Northerly headwind on open roads which was such a struggle earlier.
    One of the first sights to grab your eyeballs after a slight climb from the first section of coast road is Carnlough Bay.


    Apologies for the spots on the photo...there was light drizzle amidst the strong wind.

    We stopped at a nice Tea Room in Cushendun for tea,coffee, scones and chocolate cake (warmed,with cream of course).

    Cushendun is just North of Cushendall and is the last town (village ??) on the North East Antrim Coast,at the head of a picturesque bay.

    The wind was still strong,being Northerly,and even Aidan was feeling it.....


    It`s a lovely little town and harbour.......


    From Cushendun we climbed a narrow and steep lane giving a great view over Runaby Head and most unexpectedly also giving a clear view of The Mull of Kintyre and some of the Scottish coast and mountains.


    It was a real surprise to be in Ireland and glance over your shoulder to see Scotland !


    These lanes then carried us on right around the coast near Torr Head and Murlough Bay, then Ballycastle Bay.
    This photo shows what is Runaby Head leading to Torr Head and Murlough Bay. The coastline was a constant treat for me.


    A few miles further on we stopped to view the scary looking Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge.
    This links the coast to a small island where fishermen used to trail nets right into the sea.
    You can just see it linking the mainland at the left of the photo with the island to the right.


    I settled on just taking a few photos but it`s possible to walk down a fair way to reach and cross the bridge...I think SpannerRash has walked it.
    I settled for a different kind of living on the edge when I scaled the coastal fence to take this photo...I was about to place my gloves on the ground while I took the photo,but the howling wind would have resulted in a search for a non existant Hein Gericke shop........


    Arriving at the car park for The Giant`s Causeway, we learned that it was a half mile walk along a track to reach it.
    That meant a mile walk return trip with photo time….taking up time we couldn`t really afford as we wanted to ride across to Magilligan Strand and get the small ferry to Inishowen (a peninsula which is virtually a full island) then ride to Culdaff for a bite to eat and move on to Buncrana for the night.
    It also gave a good excuse for a return trip in the future to visit The Giant`s Causeway and to sum up courage enough to cross the rope bridge.

    Whenever and wherever we stopped,the locals were fascinated by Skaya ...


    I forget exactly where now,but in the region of Portstewart/Castlerock there was an attractive castle just before a lane down to a nice bay.
    Looking at the map it must have been Dunluce Castle.


    Just after this we dropped down to Portrush and then we rode on to the beach at Downhill (a sign said no motorcycles...I had three wheels so was probably ok but Aidan was a bit naughty :evil ).


    It`s a long time since I last rode on sand and it was quite fun.


    This photo shows a railway tunnel for what Aidan told me had been described as one of the most picturesque railway rides in Europe. The building on the clifftops is a 'folly', the Mussenden Temple.


    Here we chatted to some hardcore fishermen attempting to land SeaBass for their tea,and met a guy with a very nice Spanish lady from one of the adventure bike holiday companies….she posed on Skaya for his camera but I got a bit distracted and forgot to take any photos!

    Aidan tried to contact Tuned In (Gary) but he feigned problems with a new communications gadget (yeah,right…)
    so we didn`t manage to speak with him until we were at the Magilligan ferry, and by then we were too far apart for him to meet us,sadly.
    Here`s the ferry arriving.


    The ferry runs every hour,cuts out quite a few road miles around the Lough Foyle coast and only costs a fiver for a bike.
    The crew were amusing….asking us if we were terrorist pirates coming to steal their ship. :D


    Crossing Lough Foyle to Inishowen.
    This photo makes me think of the Irishman who went home for a wake and stayed for two. :lol3 :lol3 (sorry :D )

    Daylight was fading when we reached Inishowen,but it`s a great place…like a different land entirely,and I really enjoyed the lanes and coastal ride we did.
    I want to revisit this area some day.
    Kinnagoe Bay was very pleasant,despite it being the scene of shipwrecks in the Spanish Armada days.


    There`s a plaque explaining the wrecks and locations all around the Irish Coast.

    Aidan had tried to arrange an overnight stop at Culdaff,in Caratra House,a splendid pub with accommodation,but they didn`t have rooms available for us.
    Here`s the place if you`re interested....http://www.caratraculdaff.com/

    We settled for a bowl of fantastic vegetable soup with delicious hot baguette and butter the road in full dark on unlit lanes over to Bucrana….home of The Civil One.

    Full dark it was too…especially for me with no dip beam (my spare bulb was also broken…). I angled the headlamp shell downwards and used high beam but sometimes felt compelled to switch to sidelamp when behind cars.
    There was a spooky ride for several miles along the unlit R244 and R238 going around Slieve Snaght.
    Somewhere near Ballymagan…just outside Buncrana…there was a small conflict between East and West in the early 1700`s…..well, I`m sure it was just after 5pm when I rammed the back of Aidan`s GS.
    We`d come around a fairly tight right hander to be met with a Stop sign and an unusual Give Way to our left.
    Classic moment……I looked left and saw a car but it was far enough away for us to move off…I had seen Aidan move away,and I did a last ‘lifesaver’ over my left shoulder.
    When I looked forwards again,Aidan had stopped!!!
    I hit my ABS brakes (well,two 7”drums on a combo ain`t EVER going to lock up,are they ???) and swung to the right.
    Unfortunately not enough,and my sidecar mudguard just caught his numberplate and broke the corner off.
    Gulp…I was gutted but he was okay about it.


    We arrived at Buncrana in the rain,and met The Civil One (Philip).

    Philip was nothing like how I imagined from his Forum posts and I`m really glad I met him.
    He very kindly opened up his compound so we could leave the bikes safe while he drove us around town to find accommodation for us.
    And that was after he`d sorted a hostel for us which we politely declined ,preferring to pay extra for the privacy,comfort and convenience of our own rooms.

    In fact,Philip almost visibly blanched at the sound of people wanting to pay more money than they could actually get away with!
    Anyway,he found us a convenient place to stay then took us back to our bikes and led us to his personal garage/workshop which he opened up for us to store our bikes overnightand ,leaving us in charge of the locking arrangements when we left in the morning .

    The three of us chatted for quite a while,especially about Urals and Skaya in particular, Philip seemingly fascinated and quite impressed with the design concept of the Ural combo and the way it`s put together.


    In fact,he was so impressed that he offered me a swap for his 1200GS,although he doubtless knew that a refusal was a dead cert from me!
    He even tried plying me with free drink to make me change my mind. :freaky


    Then The Foolish Fellow (Matt) arrived with his small son (James ?) who was agog at the combo….it was a combination (pun not intended) of mysterious curiosity and fear of the unknown I think.
    Naturally it was time to clamber over Skaya for some photos.


    Time was getting on,so we bade our farewells and went to our accommodation,and met the most babe-alicious landlady I`ve ever encountered…so much so I pondered leaving my room unlocked when I went to bed,but I didn`t know if Aidan was a sleepwalker,and the potential horrendous consequences meant that my door was securely locked all night.!!
    A quick shower and freshen up, then it was walk to the pub and Guinness time…and a fabulous fresh Haddock,chips and mushy peas.

    Hardcore that we are,I think we were both back in our rooms and fast asleep by not much later than 11pm!

    All that Irish air again…..:1drink

    ............................STILL TO BE CONTINUED ...................................
  3. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

    May 10, 2007
    Across the pond.
    Ok....here`s some more.
    Hope you`re enjoying it. :wink:

    Part the eighth…..Sunday 23rd November 2008.

    Buncrana-Letterkenny-North West Coast-Donegal-Kesh-Armagh-back to Aidan`s house.

    We set off at a ‘Bejeezusly early’ time (quote,The Civil One) without breakfast to maximize on daylight intending to eat after an hour or so.
    The first bit along the N13 took us parallel with the River Swilly to Letterkenny then we took a nice route along the R255 beside the Derryveagh Mountains and Muckish Mountain until the coast at Falcarragh.
    A little bit further on from this point you crest a rise and the scenery is breathtaking…so too is the wind which threatens to lift you from the ground.


    In the photo below we are looking Eastwards across the peat bogs and over Tory Sound towards a distant Horn Head.


    Aidan`s GS had been at a 45 degree angle and he was almost hanging off the right side of his seat simply riding in a straight line,such was the wind strength.
    After the crest you drop down right to the coast and on to Bloody Foreland which I wanted to visit .
    It was difficult to stand upright,difficult to hold the camera steady,and Aidan`s bike almost got blown over when he had parked and got off it.
    In this photo he is standing in a strange posture because he is struggling to stay upright.

    At one point the sun broke through the clouds in a most dramatic fashion.


    I`ll make no apologies for taking and posting a few photos of this phenomenon.
    One of the treats you get from Winter riding..........


    All of this coastline right around was simply amazing…beautiful,rugged,and any other superlative you may care to use.


    I hope that cottage has got bloody good double glazing.....:D


    I think it was Dunglow before we had breakfast,due to many eating places being closed in this ‘out of season’ time,and we actually ate in a hotel which kindly let us use their dining room and created a very nice cooked breakfast for us.
    Again…Tuned In approved of course….. ‘laxly vegetarian’. :evil

    There was a comedy moment for me when Aidan had asked an old boy ( who appeared to be waiting for the pub to open ) where we could get breakfast…..the old boy stood quiet, chewed his pipe,then uttered ‘Oh…..`tis a baaad morning` for a fella to be lookin` for breakfast….’
    Sorry,but I couldn`t help chuckling as I imagined a set from the Fast Show or similar….

    Duly fed and watered we rode the Glengesh Pass which reminded us both of the Llanberis Pass in Wales,but without all the rocks.


    From here we headed for Killybegs then Donegal.
    Skaya went onto reserve along here…and I knew that her reserve lasts no more than about 4 miles.
    So about 4 miles later Aidan and I were using Skaya`s ten litre Jerrycan and funnel to refuel her in a layby…in a hailstorm….with wind so strong that the fuel was being blown OUT of the funnel!!
    Told you we were hardcore.
    If you look in the background of the Killybegs/Donegal Bay photo you can see the lines of the hailstorm. :eek1


    If you consult your map,you`ll see where I was when I took this photo of a giant`s hand. :D


    Talking of hardcore,in Killybegs harbour we chatted to some trawlermen who were from Cork and had been out in the Atlantic Ocean at 5am that morning.
    The weather was so extreme that they took refuge in Killybegs Harbour and were busy tidying their nets which they`d hurriedly wound aboard earlier.
    The nets ran for over a quarter of a mile!


    Ever onwards we rode……next destination Donegal centre.

    This was where we met ‘Blade’ (Bob) aboard his red R1100GS.
    Bob was a really nice guy…I`ve never met or even chatted with him,yet in the week before my trip he had offered an overnight stop at his home if I was ever in his locality,along with contact numbers in case of any problems.
    This shows not just the true biker spirit but also shows the root core community spirit of UKGSer and long may it last.
    Bob had effectively made an 80 mile November bike ride in order to buy a total stranger a caramel slice and a mug of coffee…top fella.


    Bob said he was pleased to have a reason to get out on the bike and elected to ride back with us….and was even happy to ride behind me and Skaya,despite us probably spoiling his fun on the twisties (although he later seemed amused at how many times I got close to lifting the sidecar wheel….).
    Aidan led us on a cracking ‘Boreens Run’, along all kinds of wet and slimy lanes, from Donegal through Kesh and on to Armagh where Bob made his own way home.

    It was a shortish,but very dark, combined sidelight/high beam ride from here back to Aidan`s home for the night,where Mandylicious met us with a Mandydelicious fabulously fortifying help yerself tatties/vegetables/Tuned In ‘lax vegetarianist’ chunky ham pieces and gravy tea.

    Plus wine of course. :1drink :1drink

    ...........................TO BE CONTINUED YET AGAIN.....................................
  4. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

    May 10, 2007
    Across the pond.
    Still with it ??
    Not bored yet ???

    Firstly,I forgot to post this photo in the previous instalment.
    The green highlighter shows the route Aidan and I took.
    Not bad going for two days in the back end of November,I reckon......



    Part the ninth….Monday 24th November 2008.

    Mad dash morning-slow starter motor-cross country to the Wicklow Gap-Roundwood.

    I awoke from a very comfortable sleep at silly o`clock and crept downstairs to avoid waking anyone.

    I made myself comfy with a coffee and read a bit of my book until a whirlwind of chaotic panicking ensued as Mandylicious and Aidan attempted to get to work on time after an alarm clock setting faux pas.
    (I`m never one to drop someone in it,am I ???? :evil :rofl ).

    I bade farewell to Mandy as she screeched off in a cloud of tyre smoke and then loaded Skaya while imploring Aidan to get going for his work.

    Here`s Skaya in her sleeping quarters at Aidan`s.
    It was fun reversing her into place. :clap


    Aidan kindly elected to see me off first…and probably soon regretted that decision when Skaya decided to not start.
    She turned over slower and slower….then there was the smell of petrol from a near to flooding engine…so Aidan offered his jump leads from his car.
    After reversing his car into position…and finding the jump leads weren`t in the boot.. and going into the house to gain access to the garage…it was only natural that Skaya would start up ok!

    We bade our farewells…Aidan heading off to work and me heading to a fantastic nine Euro full Irish breakfast at Cootehill.


    Veggie brekky ?

    A very lax approach to one.

    Tuned In would have thoroughly approved. :rofl


    A most enjoyable breakky it was too....this photo shows the contact details of the cafe.
    Highly recommended. :deal


    A lot of today`s ride was fairly featureless,apart from a nice castle at Trim (I think) and another hot cococolate fudge cake and cream at Enfield.
    Here`s the castle.


    There were some lovely houses in the County Kildare area...I actually doubled back to photograph this one.


    It was worth riding the featureless section to reach the fabulous scenery and roads to be found East of Newbridge.
    The section from Kilcullen onwards was a real joy…especially from Hollywood through the Wicklow Gap to Glendalough.


    I kept stopping simply to take it all in…and for a few photos of course.
    Wicklow Gap was simply breathtaking.


    Every bend in the road made me stop for a fresh photo.


    It is a simply stunning area and I don`t think anyone will mind a few indulgent photos of it all.


    On reflection,this area made my day :norton


    Wicklow Gap...........simply stunning.


    From Glendalough it had been suggested to ride to and stay in Laragh but it seemed just a little bit quiet and I decided to press on a bit further.

    The day was running late…daylight was fading.


    Finally I found a room for the night in The Coach House pub at Roundwood,which despite sounding like the perfect setting for a sci fi abduction movie or B movie slasher film turned out to be a quiet and friendly little village.


    The evening was seen out in grand style.


    A few more of these and I slept a deep and peaceful sleep.


    ...........................FINAL PART COMING UP............................................
  5. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

    May 10, 2007
    Across the pond.
    Ah well.....everything comes to an end eventually....

    Part the tenth....and part the last....…Tuesday 25th November 2008

    After sleeping the sleep of the dead,I awoke at a very indulgent 8am and had a refreshing shower,packed my gear onto Skaya and then had a nice Continental style breakfast in The Coach House.

    9.30am saw me negotiating several road barriers and a busy policeman due to some filmwork going in in Roundwood.
    Gawd....maybe it was an alien abduction/slasher film ......:huh

    It had been my choice and also Aidan`s recommendation to spend the night before my return ferry South of Dublin and this paid off as I enjoyed a relaxed and scenic ride along the R755 towards Kilmacanogue and then joined the easy flowing N11/M11 into Dun Laoghaire which was fully sign posted all the way to the ferry terminal.

    A word of caution to anyone doing a similar trip to mine........I gave myself plenty of time to catch the ferry.

    At a relaxed Ural cruise it took me 50 minutes to reach the terminal from Roundwood.

    However,there are several awkward and busy traffic light junctions between the main road/motorway and the ferry terminal....and you could spend half an hour or more on the last mile or two,so don`t cut it fine when coming home.

    The HSS was bang on time...the crossing was smooth as silk.

    In this photo you can see the power of the HSS water jet propulsion developed by the gas turbine engines.
    Bye bye Ireland.
    See you again soon.


    On disembarking at Holyhead I was prepared for a mind numbingly dull and boring trip along the A55 home.

    However,there was a treat in store when distant Snowdonia hove into view.....


    That view got better and better as I approached the Menai Straits and Bangor............



    After this it was simply A55 and Chester High Road ...arriving home at 15.40.

    1400 km from Friday morning to Tuesday afternoon.

    On a 37hp 650cc sidecar combo with a realistic maximum speed of 55mph.

    Ireland....a beautiful country full of very nice people.

    Many thanks to Aidan1150,Mandylicious,The Civil One and Blade. :clap :clap

    And thanks to all who take the time to read this.....hoping you enjoyed it. :1drink
  6. Tappet

    Tappet Feral

    May 7, 2007
    South Africa
    Great report & pics :thumb
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Aug 16, 2002
    I certainly did! Thanks for the detailed report and pics!! Looks like a great tour of Eire! :thumb
  8. divingbiker

    divingbiker True Blue Adventurer

    Oct 26, 2004
    Louisiana Gulf Coast
    Thanks for the ride. Great stuff!' :clap

    Aw heck, gotta go get some more hot chocolate before I start the next RR.
  9. GJohnson

    GJohnson Been here awhile

    Jan 21, 2004
    Pinewood Springs Co,
    Great report!! I rode Ireland and Wales this summer and I got to say I fell in love with the people and land in both places. Wales almost felt like home (Colorado USA) and Ireland was incredible.
  10. ChuckV

    ChuckV Itinerant Settler

    Nov 19, 2008
    Never bored with a ride report!:D Thanks for the photos and posts. I think they were brilliant.

  11. E-man

    E-man 4-4-09, 12-6-09, 1-13-10

    Jul 18, 2006
    I briefly checked out your pictures and will most definitely come back for the text. Iam short on time.
    LOVE Ireland RRs
  12. Laconic

    Laconic Hapless Rube

    Sep 28, 2007
    Great report, thanks for the effort!
  13. StinkyCheese

    StinkyCheese Red or Green?

    Jun 6, 2008
    Las Cruces, NM
    Awesome RR and Pics!

    :clap :clap
  14. Mr. Cob

    Mr. Cob Howling "Mad", Adventurer

    Aug 8, 2001
    Granite Falls, Washington State, USA
    Howdy Tarka,

    Just wanted to thank you for posting this great ride report. I have never had the opportunity to travel in Europe, like most Yanks who haven't been there I have this silly idea in my head that its all covered with houses and there is no or very little rural area left, your post and the wonderful photos show just how wrong this impression is. :clap :clap :clap

    I got a kick out of your "drafting" the trucks, yes it does work but you have to be very alert to remain safe. Letting the lorry driver know your behind him is VERY important. If you blokes would drive on the "right" side of the road you could have a proper Ural with two wheel drive, something us ex-colonials have a lot of fun with. Please do continue to post your ride reports for all of us Uralistas to enjoy. :deal
  15. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

    May 10, 2007
    Across the pond.
    Well,thank you everyone for your appreciation of my efforts.

    Special thanks to Mr. Cob (Dave) not just for taking the time and trouble to read and reply...but for enlightening me to the art of slipstreaming HGV`s :D.

    You have a PM and an invite too....:evil :evil

    Yes you guys 'over there'...there`s countryside aplenty even in dear old Blighty so look out for more Ride Reports courtesy of my Urals. :deal
  16. Digger Deep

    Digger Deep Keep 'er Lit

    Sep 27, 2008
    in an ever deepening hole...........
    great report mate, nice to see my home roads being so well appreciated.
  17. Tom48

    Tom48 Been here awhile

    Jul 22, 2004
    Fremont NH
    One of the better Ural ride reports. :1drink
  18. Benjava

    Benjava ?

    Jul 22, 2006
    Location Location
    "It also gave a good excuse for a return trip in the future to visit The Giant`s Causeway "

    Yes you do.

    Great report, thanks:clap
  19. Dessert Storm

    Dessert Storm Dances With Drunks

    Jun 2, 2005
    Off route, recalculating
    Great report Tarka. Time for a long overdue trip to Ireland, methinks!
  20. OldOzy

    OldOzy Banned

    Nov 5, 2008
    Childers S.E. Qld. Australia
    Really, really nice work.... Thanks.....:clap