Crossing over from Northern Ireland to Ireland was trivial. At the ferry, there were no customs, no checkpoints, no security. This is not that surprising, as the 500 km border between the two countries (UK and Ireland) has always been undefended.
We are still reeling from the recent Brexit vote and we're trying to figure out how this will affect the both of us on a personal level. But on a larger scale, I wonder how they will police and enforce this border when Britain cleaves itself away from the European Union, of which Ireland will still remain a part of.
But really, all of these geo-political musings are secondary to our immediate concern: Getting warm, getting dry and staying indoors for longer than 24 hours.
We are staying in another AirBnB, this time in a much smaller village on the Inishowen Peninsula
After the rains subside, we hang all of our wet gear out on the clothes line outside our place to dry
We didn't get a chance to get some quality indoors time in Belfast, so we've booked *three whole nights* (LUXURY) in a place just outside of Carndonagh, which is a tiny town on the northern peninsula of Ireland. The first day, we just sleep and laze around the house, and Neda is happy that she can prepare a home-cooked meal in a proper kitchen. Our host has a small dog in the house and we try to make friends with it, but it is scared to death of us. So unusual, with so many AirBnBers in and out of the place, you'd think the dog would be used to strangers.
Not being able to play with the dog makes Neda very sad. :(
Apart from resting and relaxing, my primary chore is to bring all our drying gear indoors when it starts to rain, and then hang them up on the line when the rains stop. With the damp air, it takes forever for our stuff to dry.
Riding in the rain is very familiar for the RideDOT.com team. So is drying our gear on our days off...
With one rest day under our belts, we venture out into the Inishowen Peninsula the next morning feeling very much refreshed
We're headed to the very top of the peninsula, called Malin Head. The conditions are not optimal, the roads are still damp and the sun is nowhere to be seen. But the rain stays off our helmets, so that means it's a good day to ride.
We're not the only ones. Other two-wheeled brethren (motorized and non) also decide it's a good day to ride
Star Wars font at Malin Head
Just four months ago, Malin Head was brimming with activity. Film crews invaded this sleepy rural community to film a scene for Star Wars Episode VIII (The Last Jedi). All the roads to Malin Head were closed off for three days, and die-hard fans traveled all the way over here to catch a glimpse of what was rumoured to be the Millennium Falcon, perched on a rock just off the northern coast.
A Jedi Master was posted at the start of the road. Fans who drove up were told, "This is not the movie set you're looking for. There's nothing to see here. Move along... move along..."
Speaking of moving along, we were told to move our bikes away from the Start/Finish line. Neda chats to some cyclists
It looks like there's some kind of bicycle race underway here. Support vans are parked off to the side as groups of cyclists head down the hill to start their race. I did some research and there's some kind of race here almost every month. Just like Britain has the Land's End to John O'Groats route, this is the start (or finish) of the famous Malin Head to Mizen route, going from the very northernmost point in Ireland to the very southern tip of the island.
Different organizers and charities set up races or rallies during the warm weather months. It'll take these bicyclists about three days to complete the 810 km coastal route, averaging around 270 kms/day. The record for bicycles is 19 hours. The record for runners is 4 days. The Millennium Falcon made the Malin Head/Mizen Run in less than 12 parsecs.
I have a feeling these cyclists will reach Mizen a lot sooner than we will...
View of the coast from Malin Head
From the spy pictures I found on-line, it looks like they put the Millennium Falcon on one of these rocks during the film shoot. Cool!
Neda Jedi Mind Tricks me into taking a hike around Malin Head. It's a trap!
Hairy caterpillar at Malin Head
The reason why there are very few pictures of me hiking is because this is what I normally look like...
Taking a break, catching my breath, trying to keep up with Neda
Beautiful coastline at the very northern point of Ireland. Can't wait to see that Star Wars movie now!
Waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash on the rocks below us
Okay, enough hiking, back on the bikes! We've got some bicyclists to pass!
These thatched roofs on some of these houses remind me of the Manx cottages on the Isle of Man.
Zoom zoom! Through the Inishowen Peninsula
There are many ways to get from Malin Head to Mizen. The most straightforward route is only about 612 kms through the interior, but over the next few days, we are going to take the longer coastal route which is called The Wild Atlantic Way. We're actually here because an Irish rider (and fellow R1200GSer) I met in Edinburgh last month recommended this route when I asked him for some good riding roads in Ireland.
"Just follow the road along the west coast and you can't go wrong!", he told me. Easy enough.
Sticking to the Wild Atlantic Way takes us through Mamore Pass on the west coast of the peninsula
At the top of the pass, Neda makes us roadside sandwiches. Lunch with a great view of the plains below!
The road continues through the Mamore Gap, which takes us through breathtaking scenery
The rest of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way beckons to us. I really hope the weather holds up.