Sunday July 13, 2008, 82 km (51 miles) – Total so far: 120 km (75 miles)
It was nice and sunny when we woke this morning and it would remain so for the rest of the day. Once we were packed up we headed down the road to Roundwood for a picnic breakfast, which we ate on the roadside. We also got some provisions for lunch from the village store and carried on.
Today we would be riding through the Wicklow Mountains National Park, passing over the Wicklow Gap. We started the climb mid-morning, it was a nice and gentle grind of around 5% to 8% as it snaked its way up offering very pleasant scenery the higher you got. The only nuisances were the coach loads of tourists being bussed up to the top for a quick photo opportunity and the seemingly endless stream of powerful motorcycles burning up and down at very high speeds. Seems to be a Sunday pastime round these parts.
At the top of the pass we were treated to some great views of the Wicklow Mountains and a sweet descent of some 10 kilometres to Hollywood (We couldn’t see the big sign in the hills though – oh well). A short while later we stopped in Dunlavin for some lunch and then pushed on further westwards.
There was some sort of agricultural fair going on this afternoon and, as a result, the country lanes were full of vintage tractors out on a rally. They held us up on a couple of stretches, vintage tractors are not so quick.
We made into Athy at about 5pm and popped into Andersons for an afternoon Guinness stop. Away from the main roads Ireland’s road signage seems to be a little thin on the ground, and some of the signs that are there can be unreliable. Our intended stop-over at Portlaoise was either 39kms or 19kms away depending on which road-sign you believed, so we decided to spend the night in Athy.
Our map indicated a campsite nearby, but looking on the information board in the town centre we couldn’t find any sign of it – so we asked at a taxi office. A friendly cab driver was able to point us in the right direction – 5km out of town. We stocked up for dinner in the local Aldi supermarket and headed to camp.
Once there, it was time for the usual cycle tourist routine – tents up, shower & eat.