An Irish adventure with an Irish Redhead and my wife.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Brett737cap, Aug 24, 2021.

  1. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    I’ve always wanted to keep a bike somewhere in Europe. I’m an airline pilot and I fly to a lot of European cities week after week. I’ve often thought I wanted a bike to keep over there and ride on layovers. I’ve rented a few times, but bike rentals are super expensive in Europe. It adds up quickly, and owning an older bike can pay for itself pretty quickly.

    With vacation coming up in mid-August, my wife and I were planning on going to Either Ireland or Scotland I was looking at rental costs for several weeks. It was going to cost $2000-3000, which got me thinking…why not pull the trigger and buy?

    I have a good Irish friend in Dublin who is a fellow rider and also a pilot, and he agreed to help me find a bike over there. At home I ride a 1200GS and an AJP PR7, so naturally I wanted an adventure bike. After about a week of combing the ads, I realized that adventure bikes command a premium price, even old ones. But, sports touring bikes were pretty affordable. Hey, you don't have to ride an adventure bike to have an adventure, do you? Sure, it would be limited to pavement, but there is not a lot of off-pavement riding in much of Europe anyhow, which is why so many ADV bikes you see here have mostly street tires.

    I found a pristine 2002 Yamaha FJR1300 with only 15000 miles on it, and the asking price was about 5500 euros. It had full luggage and even a GPS, had been well-maintained, and was ready to ride. My buddy, Owen, went over and checked it out for me and reported back that it was, indeed, in damn good shape. He made an offer for me, the owner accepted and next thing I knew, I was the owner of an FJR1300 in Ireland. Owen even rented a van and picked it up for me. He kept it at his house until we got there a few weeks later. Friends like that are good to have!

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    Next up: Dublin arrival and first ride.
    #1
  2. b4thenite

    b4thenite Long timer

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    Love it
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  3. Saso

    Saso Happily sporting the DRD4 gene Supporter

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  4. radmann10

    radmann10 Old fart Supporter

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    That FJR looks great, please keep us posted, I have been looking at FJR 1300s, and ST 1300s for years never pulled the trigger yet, will be interested in your travels!
    #4
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  5. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    Ah Ireland. Best weather on the planet, said nobody. But riding-wise, it’s really not bad. Yeah, there is rain, and wind, and fog, but the temps are not extreme, and that counts for a lot. You don’t really need heated-gear there, nor do you need hit-weather gear. The temps during our whole time there were consistently upper 50s in the morning and mid-to-upper 60s by the afternoon.

    I’m a riding clothes-horse. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten rid of an old jacket or set of boots, which finally served me well. I had an old set of adv boots and an older Klim jacket, as well as, oh, maybe 10-15 sets of gloves in a duffle in the closet. I hadn’t worn many of these things in years, so I took the jacket and boots and a couple pair of gloves with me to just leave on the bike and eliminate the need to carry them back and forth. A helmet and pants would be the only things I took in the future, and I may even buy an inexpensive road helmet to keep on the bike, rather than carry my good ARAI adv helmet back and forth.

    My buddy’s GF was arriving on a flight from Boston about the same time we got to Dublin, so she gave us a ride to their home, where the bike was. I met my friend and he showed me the bike. She was a beauty. Hard to believe it was 19 years old, as she was spotless with shiny paint and good rubber. She fired right up and ran like a top. I decided to name her Fiona, my Irish redhead lass (No, I don't normally name my bikes, but for some reason, this just seemed appropriate, but feel free to make fun of me anyhow).

    My wife and I were very tired after the red-eye from Newark, and we had picked an AirBNB right down the street from Owen and Laura’s house, so we went over there to nap for a few hours. I wanted to get in a solo ride on the new bike, to get the feel for it, before I took off with my wife on the back on unfamiliar roads (and on the “wrong” side of the road). So I set my alarm for only 3 hours sleep in order to meet Owen for a ride into the Wicklow mountains just outside of Dublin.

    After my alarm went off I put my gear on and walked over to Owen’s house. He rides a GS Adventure. We took off through the Dublin traffic on the way to the mountains. Owen rides fast and Filtering through the traffic, around cars at red lights to the front of the line, and passing going up the hills took all my concentration. The bike handled and rode like a new bike. I have not ridden a non-adventure bike in many years, but Fiona was a delight to ride. I found that her 160 horses liked the higher RPMs, with smooth power delivery and even smoother shifting. A far cry from the clunky gearbox of my GS.

    Owen took me up into the hills and we stopped for a photo at the top of one of the passes:

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    We did about a 2 hour loop through the mountains and then returned to Owen’s house.

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    I took Fiona back to our Airbnb, where our host let us keep her in his locked back yard. Apparently the neighborhood is where Conner McGregor grew up and can be a little rough, so it was better to not leave the bike on the street. Our BnB host, Rae, restored old cars and motorcycles in his workshop behind the house. He gave me a quick tour of his projects.
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    That night we went out to dinner in Dublin with Owen and Laura and went to bed about 11pm, excited about our first true riding day in the morning. We had decided to head North and then work our way South.

    Up Next: Donegal, the North, and a Covid scare

    Attached Files:

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  6. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    I had also thought they were cool bikes for many years and thought about buying one at home. When I came across this one in Dublin, I knew it was the bike for me to have in Europe. Sure, I can’t ride it off-road, but that’s ok, I get enough of that at home.
    #6
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  7. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    I've stored motorcycles since 2013 at Motofeirme… a motocamp, dorm rooms, shop, friendly relaxed place 20 min from cork airport, 5 minutes from Kinsale which has great food, lots of airb&bs and the start of the Wild Atlantic Way.
    A fellow Yank here…have big fun on your stay
    #7
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  8. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    I talked to Martin as well, and he has a great service. But Kinsale would be too far to be able to use my bike on my Dublin layovers when I’m working.
    #8
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  9. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    Day 1: Dublin to Donegal

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    The day started out like most days of my life, in bed with my wife. The Irish redhead, Fiona, was waiting patiently in the courtyard. After 30 years of International flying you would think I would be used to Jetlag... you would be wrong. As we were still on US East Coast time after only one night in Ireland, we slept in until 9ish, before waking to typical Irish weather of rain and cool temperatures.

    Getting bike stuff on bike trips can be a pain in the ass. Half the bike shops in the world have weird hours, and many have crappy inventory. We needed to get a few things before getting on the road and a tire plugger kit (TSA rules being what they were, I couldn't carry a tire kit with me and I didn't have the room for more liquids). We headed to Owen's house before we hit the road and he made us some good foo-foo coffee on his nice espresso machine. I don't know about other riders, but I have a hard time riding without my morning coffee. Its like riding without my brain if I am forced to go without.

    After the coffee Owen took us to a nearby bike shop. BikeWorld. Would not recommend. Staff was uninterested in doing anything but reading their magazines and they didn't seem to even know what they carried. It was kind of a sad place. There were no other customers and everything had kind of a dusty, not cared after aura to it. After being told by one of the staff that they didn't carry tubeless tire repair kits, I looked around and found a tubeless tire repair kit. Imagine that! Most of the bike brands they carried were cheap Chinese crap. Not a fan.


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    After our supply stop Owen had to head home and the three of us (my wife, myself, and Fiona) hit the road. I am not a fan of freeways, or motorways as they call them in Ireland, but sometimes you gotta make good time. I will say, that an FJR is not a bad ride on the motorway though. Its fairings and windscreens give good protection and its got more than enough power to zoom up the road. We hit the M3 which led to the N3, going Northwest. Much to the chagrin of my wife, who lets me know her displeasure by gripping my side harder with one hand, I weaved through the motorway traffic that was slowing us down as I made my way out of Dublin.

    There is some kind of reason and logic to the road prefixes over there, and I am somewhat familiar. M's are the freeways, N's are the national highways I think, both relatively high speed, and below that are an alphabet of secondary and tertiary roads which all seem to be far too narrow and with people going far too fast on them for their size. For some reason the Irish don't like street signs.... I guess its a small enough country that most people know all the roads by memory. Just kidding and no offense to my Irish friends. But seriously, there is a shortage of street signs on anything but the high-speed roads. Thank god for GPS.

    There is also a logic to the lane lines on 2-way roads. Sometimes they are long broken lines with big spaces in-between, sometimes they are short and close together, sometimes they are solid, and sometimes they are zig-zag. All are white. Confused? I was too. So I watched other drivers. Apparently you can pass on any of the broken lines, and the close, short ones are telling you to be extra careful passing because of limited visibility. The zig-zags tell you that you are coming up to a crossing of some kind, and the solid ones mean no-passing, only Owen told me that didn't apply to motorbikes, depending on who was watching. And I still have not figured out what the "Traffic Calming" signs mean. I think it means to slow down. I could've looked it up on the internet, but that's too easy. Better to try to figure it out yourself.

    As we headed North at 120 km/h it spit rain at us off and on. The cool weather wasn't too cool, and we were comfortable in our riding gear. The GPS that came with the bike kept telling me about speed camera areas, and I saw the signs, but I never saw any cameras. Maybe its just a ruse. I'll know in a few weeks if any speeding tickets show up at Owen's address. We stopped for a late lunch in a town called, of all things, Virginia, and enjoyed a sandwich sitting outside in the rain. In Ireland you have to show a proof of vaccination to sit inside, and we had left ours in our luggage. No matter, we had good rain gear on and the tables had umbrellas. After that, we took pics of our vax cards and that did the trick the rest of the trip.

    Soon we found ourselves in Northern Ireland. There were no border controls at all, and not even any signs, that I saw. The only way I realized it was that the speed limit signs went to mph instead of km/h. That and we saw some police doing some kind of traffic license stop/check, and their car said police rather than the normal Irish Garda. I had been passing the queue of cars on the right, wondering what the holdup was, when we came on the license check. I know the cops saw me and I jumped back into the line, expecting a scolding (or worse) as I came up to them, but they waved me on through. Owen had told me nobody really cares what you do on a bike as long as you don't speed, and he was right. If that had happened back in the States I would've gotten a ticket I am sure. Anyhow, if you look at the map at the top, you can see that Northern Ireland, part of the UK, juts into Ireland and almost splits it. You pretty much have to go through it as the fastest way to most of the northern parts of Ireland. Personally, I don't really know why it still exists except for the Brit's obstinance about giving it back. Its not even on their island for Christ's sake! Much more complicated than that and all that guff, but Jesus, I feel bad for the Irish having to put up with the Brits on their island.

    As it was raining most of the time, and we wanted to get there in time for dinner, we really didn't stop for pictures like we normally do. Irish scenery is always pretty though... lots of green pastures, rivers, stone fences, and narrow roads. I'll have more pics in later posts, I promise.

    We pulled into our BnB in Donegal in the evening. We were right next to downtown so we parked the bike and cleaned up to go have dinner. Only problem was, we could not find anywhere to eat. Everyone was fully booked and they wouldn't let you wait for a table. Its one of the frustrating things about the age of COVID. They have limited seating so you have to make a reservation, and they can't let you just wait because it will bust their occupancy restrictions. If you are traveling and not knowing for sure where you will stop for the night, well, impossible to make a reservation then. I have always just winged it when Moto-travelling, but I could see I may have to do a little bit of planning on this trip. We finally found an Indian restaurant that would take us, but were told we had to be done within an hour. Not a problem for me usually. After dinner we walked around the small town a little bit before heading to bed. There was a castle, and a nice church, but neither were open to visitors, as we found with many places in Ireland. The town was on an estuary leading in from the Atlantic Ocean. It had a nice town square and was normally probably filled with American tourists, but thankfully they were all still at home thanks to Covid. All the tourists were mostly Irish, many discovering their own country, because traveling out of country was such a hassle. It was busy, but not a frantic kind of busy. More a relaxed, small town kind of busy, the kind you can enjoy. After about 20 minutes of walking we had seen the whole town.

    My wife really was having a good time, I promise. She just doesn't like having her picture taken...

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    After dinner we went back to the BnB for an early bedtime. I was exhausted. More than I would normally be, even with Jetlag. Usually, in Europe, I am wide-awake until late at night for the first few days. I could hardly keep my eyes open and it was only about 9. I went to sleep and woke up a few hours later with a fever and bad diarrhea. I spent most of my night on the toilet as water and smells the devil would run from emanated from my ass. I was also having a tight, kind of weezy, feeing in my chest. Shit, had I contracted Covid, even though I was vaccinated? I knew it was possible, but the odds said it was still unlikely. The problem with the Covid symptoms they give you on WebMD is that they look like pretty much any other illness. Its not that I was worried that I had covid because I feared for my health, but rather that I would be forced to quarantine and not be able to get on our flight back to the US. Nobody tells you what happens if you test positive when you get your pre-departure test. Do they not let you go home? For how long? Or do you have to go home and quarantine? Its pretty much a grey zone. I knew I needed to get a test in the morning, because I owed it to Owen and Laura to let them know if I had it, and I didn't want to ride around Ireland spreading it all over. They take it seriously there. I could see the headlines: "American Motorcyclists Ignores Protocols and Infects Hundreds". Burn the witch!

    Next: Covid tests, and heading south
    #9
  10. Madscientist

    Madscientist Been here awhile

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    That’s quite a way to end a long first day.
    #10
  11. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    Yeah, I wasn't much fun that night.
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  12. #1Fan

    #1Fan Long timer

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    Following along. Beautiful bike, btw!
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  13. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    Thanks! I got really lucky finding one in such good shape. Should have an update tomorrow or the next day.
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  14. Essbee

    Essbee Been here awhile

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    Holding thumbs!!!
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  15. Brett737cap

    Brett737cap Life is short... leave with no regrets. Super Supporter

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    Well shit…. I’ll have to finish this in the future a bit. Been in the hospital the last 4 days with pretty bad pneumonia. Non-COVID. Ironic. And no laptop with me. Doing anything pretty much tires me out and leaves me gasping for breath. I was down to 85% o2 saturation before I realized something was really wrong. No wonder I was so fatigued in Ireland. I thought it was just Jetlag and I don’t get bad Jetlag.

    I’ll update when feeling a bit better…
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  16. staticPort

    staticPort Meditrider Supporter

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    Thanks for letting us know whats been happening; pneumonia sure can suck the fun out of life, glad you're on the mend!
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  17. iatethepeach

    iatethepeach Been here awhile

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    That's a bummer. Get well soon!
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  18. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Wishing you a speedy, full recovery.
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  19. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    Rest and heal. Ride and write when well.
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  20. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    Heal up safely…
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