Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rocky Road from Dublin

I'm back from Ireland! I thought I'd drag my jet-lagged self over to my computer and let you know I'm not dead.

Our flight out of Dublin was delayed three hours because of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano sending up another huge ash cloud and thus we missed our connecting flight to Minneapolis. Being stuck in Newark Airport overnight is no fun, let me tell you. My sister slept on the luggage, I slept sitting up, and Mom didn't sleep at all. Talk about punchy!

I'm going to run through things I noticed in Ireland about bikes, roads, and riding; for your reading pleasure:
-The cars are smaller. The largest non-commercial vehicle I saw was a Land Rover Discovery. Quite nice, considering the price of petrol was 1.33 Euro per liter. That's about $5.00 per gallon, ouch.
-The roads are narrow. Think of a standard lane width and a three-foot shoulder here in the U.S. and that's a two lane national road in Ireland. There aren't shoulders, either, usually an old stone wall or a thick hedge-row.
-You have to pay anywhere from two to eight Euro to park your automobile in town. Thus, a lot of people take the bus, walk, or ride a bicycle to get groceries, run errands, etc. There are a lot of mountain bikes in the country and commuting bikes in town. I did see a bike courier coming out of a business in Dublin, he had a worn but well-kept road bike.
-Road signage is smaller and hard to read if you're used to the signage in the US. Street signs are posted on corner buildings or not at all. Also, streets frequently change names every block, rather than at city limits.
-Round-abouts are used instead of four-way stop intersections, and I think that's a good thing. It's easier and I think safer, because those in the circle are already moving at a fairly low speed, so all you have to do is get up to speed. If you miss your exit, you just go around again.

Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.

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