You would think, wouldn’t you, that when one goes on a bike ride for over four hours that one is going to come back somewhat lighter. Well that was not the case with me on this trip when I came home, or rather dragged myself home, about 22llbs heavier. Not that I had suddenly put on all that weight and became a ten ton Tessy but the extra weight was owing to the 20 odd sods of turf I picked up on the way. They were hanging out of any nook and cranny that could be found in the panier bags of the bike, not an inch left in any of the pockets. Well I just couldn’t pass them by, could I, and they in danger of being smashed to pieces by tractors and cars and whatnots. No, I did my christian duty and picked them up whenever I came across them; lovely long dry sods they were too. How could you leave them behind? Mauricio was none too impressed when he was forced to keep on stopping and waiting ’til I had the beauts put safely away. He’ll thank me one of these days when I have a rip roaring fire on in the stove and a nice dinner stewing away for him on top.
On this trip which took us into the back of beyonds of Offaly, we got slightly lost at one stage and went down a road that abruptly came to an end with a lovely cottage with a half door. I fancied that in the kitchen of that cottage there would be an old man sitting by the fire watching the spuds cooking away on the stove and the Missus hobbling around the kitchen slicing up the bacon and buttering the cabbage. I will never know if that was the case but I do know that there was an old woman there. She came out to see if we needed any help and only two teeth in her head. Had it not been rude to make her pose and take a photo I know that that was what Mauricio would have given his right arm to do.
The trip started off at the canal heading from Tullamore to Rahan, unreal the amount of flowers along its bank. We were off the bikes looking at them more than on the bikes cycling. There was one woman and her dog power walking and honest to God, she was making more headway along the canal than we were at some stages. But better on the canal than on the road I always say. Well until the path becomes too grassy and bumpy for bikes which it did nearer to Pullough
We came back by the road (that’s when we started to get lost alot) and some of those roads were so still and quiet that all you could hear was the bicycle wheels busily turning around. But not all the time were they quiet. As soon as Mauricio would say something like “I feel like I’m in the middle o f nowhere” along would come a huge tractor, then another and following hot on their heals the back up of cars, disgruntled owners holding rigidly on to the steering wheel and mentally putting their feet to the floor in order to advance. But they weren’t going anyway, at least not in a hurry, until these massive engines cleared off the narrow roads for them. At times like those, we were forced into the ditches, bikes and all, in order not to become flattened like the sods of turf I had failed to pick up.
The rain seemed to be trying to avoid us all the while on this trip which we were not complaining about. The sun was in and out of the clouds bringing cheer to our hearts and food to our souls and warmth to our bodies. The only problem in the whole trip and being lost was not it, was the fact that I had gone off without breakfast and was starving for the whole latter half of the trip. I began to wilt when I realised that the last two miles were going to be on the main Birr/Tullamore Road, a road full of fast cars and wide open and boring to be on on a bike. We had just passed a filed full of meadowsweet and I kept the image close to me and it helped to carry me forward. That image lingered in my mind and brought me home. The heart of Offaly is truly beautiful especially on a lovely summer day. Paradise Personified!!!