A nice day for a ramble on Suzie, and I made the best of it.
A spin out on Suzie in the countryside.
I know it’s been a while since I have had anything to say here, but a change of career from “semi-retired” back to full time work, has put a stop to my gallop. My company vehicle has four wheels and a requirement to carry lots of the paraphernalia of work with me. During the late Summer and early Autumn, I had commuted to work on Suzie and that gave me the opportunity to ride almost everyday. A change of career direction put a damper on that pleasure for a while, but soon I will rectify that aberration and should have a lot more time to enjoy rambling around on Suzie again. Why do company vehicles invariably have four wheels? I will seriously consider any employment that offers two wheel transport. Two wheel powered transport of course.
Today I decided was a good day to take Suzie to the country. First stop, a visit to a young chap, whose name is a diminutive of Patrick. Páidí is not big on communicating through any recognisable language, but his approval is offered in relevant sound bites. His version of “Granddad, that’s a fine bike you have” is basically vocal offerings such as “vroom, vroom” and pointing his finger at Suzie and nodding in the affirmative that he recognises true beauty when he sees and hears it. A little climb up on Suzie to see it close up and touch all the bits attached to the handlebars was positively necessary too.
After Páidí had carried out his inspection, I took Suzie up the hills in the local area with a view to getting up close and personal with some windmills. Yes, I am aware that nowadays they are referred to as wind turbines, but my preference is to call them windmills. I know some people are not impressed with them and consider them a blight on the landscape. I suppose I don’t live near enough to hear them or suffer the “flicker” effect but I actually like them. It has been cold and frosty in recent weeks but today was mild and intermittently sunny, so it was a nice day to enjoy the views on some of the highest agricultural lands in County Wexford. Of course the day had to end with a good wash for Suzie because any sort of off-roading will result in a little muck flying up on Suzie, especially at this time of year. It was worth the trouble after such an enjoyable blast on a great bike.
I have been resisting an after-market screen for my V-Strom.
My Suzuki V-Strom Adventure 1000 brought me very comfortably around Europe in May and June and on my day trips and commutes recently and I have to say I was very happy with the comfort level. Someone had commented on a post of mine that I needed an after-market screen to increase comfort but I had resisted going for one. I felt that it would adversely affect the look of my V-Strom.
There are a number of reasons to consider an after-market screen to add to a motorcycle. It can decrease wind buffeting and also reduce noise. I felt that neither of these issues were particularly intrusive on the V-Strom and that I could do without changing the screen. Then I saw Norman’s GIVI Airflow on his V-Strom at a biking meet recently and I thought it looked good. He assured me it had made a marked difference to the comfort level so I was converted. Craig at the AMI & Overlanders shop in Gorey ordered a GIVI Airflow suitable for my V-Strom. When Craig called me to say it had arrived I rode in to the shop and Conor and I installed it in a matter of minutes. I am glad I was convinced to go for it because there is a noticeable reduction in noise and it has reduced buffeting, even if I didn’t think there was too much in the first place. The screen is easily adjustable and it only takes a few moments to change the height. I set it just below my eyeline and it works great. I don’t think it looks too bad either. The featured image was taken on the quay in Wexford. The image below is a little closer and I hope you will agree that it looks good on Suzie.
Now is absolutely the time to enjoy it because the weather is glorious. Today it was reading a nice 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) with beautiful sunshine and blue skies. Yes, I know bad weather will test the effectiveness of the screen a lot more but hey, I’ll take the sunshine while it’s here.
Getting in some trips on the new V-Strom 1000. Laurie loves the comfort…
The new V-Strom exceeding expectations.
My wife Laurie was not a fan of the seat on my Yamaha Fazer. It was a reliable bike and brought me on some long trips and back, safely without and issues, breakdowns or fuss. When I decided to change, Laurie’s comfort was one of the highest priorities, and the V-Strom Adventure I got from the guys in AMI (Adventure Motorcyles of Ireland) to test ride, came first in her rating. It got an immediate thumbs up with a special reference to how comfortable the seat was. So, we picked the Suzuki V-Strom up, all shiny and new, in Gorey Business Park in the first week of January. To say the least, she is loving it. I think the number of miles we covered on it together has probably already exceeded the number covered on the Fazer.
Last weekend we did some nice miles, heading to Duncannon beach in Wexford, in the South East corner of Ireland. It’s a lovely beach with great views of the Hook Pennisula and the Waterford coastline. It’s one of Laurie’s favourites, having spent all her childhood summers there. Duncannon has some great pubs and restaurants and we stopped on the beach, which is firm enough to drive on. The “Ta-Dah” moment in the featured photo is when Laurie found a suitable piece of driftwood to put under the side-stand so we could park up for a little while. We headed for the Hook which is another of our favourite stops. Hook Lighthouse is one of the oldest working lighthouses in the world. After a visit to the Lighthouse restaurant we were off again. Waterford City and The Copper Coast was next on our agenda.
We got new Scott jackets and pants along with Schubert helmets that are very comfortable and we are very happy with them. I am particularly happy with the communication system because I can’t hear a word she says. Probably down to my bad hearing. Perfect.
Return of the Z1 to Ireland. Michael from Germany is back on the same 1975 Z1 after twenty-five years.
Taking the ferry to broaden the potential for adventure.
I met Michael in Rosslare Harbour a few days ago. He was travelling with three friends from the same area. I bumped into the four Bikers, two male and two female, from near Dortmund in Germany. They had been in Ireland touring on their bikes and were staying the night in Rosslare before boarding the following morning for Fishguard. They were then going to ride to Dover for a crossing to Calais. Their holiday was fourteen days in total. Three days riding and ferry crossings each way, and eight days touring Ireland. Sounds like my kind of holiday. What caught my eye first was what I thought was a Z1 from the seventies, but from the distance I couldn’t figure out what looked strange about it. Being naturally curious, especially when it’s something to do with motorbikes, I approached and spoke to the group. Michael told me the bike was a 900cc 1975 Kawasaki Z1. When I was up close I saw what looked strange. The tank was covered in black duct tape. Michael explained that he had first covered the tank with clear plastic, and then covered over the plastic with the duct tape. Would it damage the paint when he took off the tape? No he was certain it wouldn’t, because he had used this method before to protect the tank from the tank bag, and the tape was only in contact with the underneath surface of the tank. Michael had toured Ireland on the same bike twenty-five years ago, and was back with some friends to do another tour. He had lovingly restored the bike to a fantastic standard and showed me pictures of the process to prove it.
My ideal holiday begins with me heading to the Ferry on my motorcycle. I love travelling around Ireland. There is never a shortage of places to go, events to attend and attractions to visit. Sometimes though, in the interest of adventure, it’s nice to set your sights on the further horizon. Recently I have mentioned this to a few motorcycling friends, and was surprised at the number that said they didn’t think it was something they would ever do. I am not sure why this might be the case, but I rode down to Rosslare Harbour a few days ago, and I can tell you there are no shortage of motorcycle enthusiasts who are in agreement with me, in relation to crossing the sea, to experience a motorcycle adventure in the UK or on the continent. I met quite a number of people from the UK and from further afield who had come to Ireland for a motorcycle holiday here. If you intend to take to the seas, Rosslare is a great option. Within a couple of miles of the harbour, or Rosslare Europort, as the sign at the entrance to the harbour says, there are a lot of guest houses, bed and breakfasts, hotels, restaurants and bars. So a night here would be well worth considering, whether you are heading out on a ferry, or have just arrived in Ireland. There are plenty of attractive villages and tourist destinations within a half an hour, to a hours ride, from Rosslare too. As well as the harbour area, there is Rosslare Strand, about ten minutes away and Wexford town is about a fifteen minutes ride. Wexford is a historic (old Viking) town, with a great night life and is famous for cultural events such as the annual opera festival and nice beaches like Curracloe, which is where the opening beach scenes of Saving Private Ryan were filmed. Within close striking distance are villages like Kilmore Quay and Carne and the very popular Hook Lighthouse, famous as one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world, at 800 years old. A light has been lit at the spot where the lighthouse is since the 5th century, long before the building was established, or so the story goes.
I dropped into one very nice pub and restaurant, just a few hundred metres from the entrance to the port called Culletons of Kilrane, and I was very impressed with the food and the pint of Guinness that accompanied it was as good as you will get. I was served by Derval, who is the owner of the business, and has been in charge there for over a year. It’s a very friendly place that I think you should consider visiting. So, I recommend a foreign adventure, whether you decide to stick to the UK or head across to the continent. If you decide to travel via Rosslare, in the very South East corner of Ireland, it’s worth considering making it an overnight stop off point at the start of your adventure. You will definitely enjoy the treats it has to offer.
Last week Laurie and I packed the saddlebags and headed to Lismore in County Waterford. The unwritten plan was a break in Lismore and then maybe west and south towards Ardmore. We only got to Lismore. This week we headed out on the bike. No saddlebags and nothing packed so there was little doubt we were coming home in the evening. A short spin from base and we found ourselves in Borris, the ancestral home of the MacMurrough Kavanaghs. One option from the Capital: take the M11 / N11 to Enniscorthy. From Enniscorthy take the R702 to Borris. The views from Borris of the Blackstairs and Mount Leinster are great, and the town itself is quaint and picturesque. The tudor style mansion, Borris House, is open to the public by prior arrangement and for special occasions such as weddings or concerts. At the bottom of the town there is a 16 arch viaduct which was built in 1860 for the Great Southern and Western railway. The railway line closed completely in the 1960s but the viaduct is still there. After a walk around Borris we saddled up again to travel about 10 kilometres or 6 miles to Graignamanagh (or Graiguenamanagh: Gráig na Manach, village of the monks) in County Kilkenny.
The most striking building in Graignamanagh is the national monument, Duiske Abbey. A 13th century Cistercian Monastery, founded by William Marshall, in 1204. It is the largest of the 34 medieval Cistercian Monasteries in Ireland and in 1228 it was occupied by 35 monks and 50 lay brothers. The name Duiske comes from Douskey or An Dubh Uisce, The Black Water, a tributary which runs into the Barrow River in Graignamanagh. The abbey is well worth a visit, with 13th century stonework still visible, some of the original medieval floor tiles, Gothic and Romanesque architecture and an effigy of a Roman Knight on display. We spent some time wandering around the Abbey, appreciating its beauty and Laurie said a few prayers for my salvation. Probably entirely wasted because the next thing that caught my eye was a small grocery store opposite the Abbey. A grocery store, oh, and did I mention it was also a bar. Of course we weren’t going in because remember, we didn’t pack the saddle bags and therefore it was definite we were going home. We just went in to have a look at the grocery. The grocery that happened to be a bar as well. There were a few chaps there sampling the wares of course. One man was from Dundalk, a fact that was correctly guessed by Laurie, after just a few utterances by him. Another man was drinking a very nice looking pint of Guinness and eating slices of cooked ham from a brown paper bag. As you do. There was a very varied selection of goods for sale. Everything from mackerel lures, garden implements, tins of beans and did I mention, pints of Guinness. Of course we weren’t staying. One pint of Guinness, and then a look around for a suitable venue for food, before we set off home again.
The next morning, when we woke up in the B&B, we were very impressed with the view from our room. We were looking out over the quay, with barges and river boats tied up and the attractive looking bridge over the Barrow River just a few yards down from the Waterside Restaurant and B&B. The bridge crosses the Barrow and Herself wasn’t slow to point out that it was County Carlow on the other side. She is from Carlow and that is why that was relevant. We had another wander around picturesque Graignamanagh. Historically it was an important town because it was a main base for barge traffic, which were the articulated truck, tractor / trailer units of their day, from the 1700s on. In the town there is a concerted effort to grow and develop, through a scheme supported by a European rural development plan and Graignamanagh Local Development Company Ltd. The renewal is making a big difference to the town and there is a massive floral effort being made by the local people. The most impressive is the Kebab House, which is weighed down with flowers. The florist located directly across from it has a lot to do with the flowers, I fancy, but lots of other buildings are well decorated with flowers too. There are attractive shop and pub fronts and some very interesting life size statues of the Cistercian Monks depicting their lives.
What do you mean I skipped a bit? Oh, how we got from a quaint grocery store to waking up in a B&B? A grocery store that happens to be a pub too. Well, as I said we decided to sample the Guinness because it looked so nice and creamy and while we were enjoying it, Pat, the owner of Doyle’s explained a little about the premises. It was originally a hotel and a stop for the Bianconi coaches. Carlo Bianconi was an Italian refugee from the Napoleonic Wars. He moved to Ireland, changed his name to Charles, and became a successful business man, inventing the first public transport system in Ireland: horse drawn coaches. The coaches required regular stops in various towns where the horses were changed. The man with the ham in the brown paper bag was telling a story about a father who had been a very hard working farmer all his life. When he died he left the thriving farm to his only son. Everyone remarked how much hard work this man had done in his lifetime. The son replied that he had left a lot of it behind him too… The man from Dundalk was telling how he had come down from Kildare in his river boat. Another customer told how he had been working in Australia for seven years and was back home for his first visit. Obviously we weren’t going home.
When I went back to the bike to get something I spotted the Waterside B&B and Restaurant and decided to book us in. After one or two more in Doyle’s we adjourned to the restaurant in the Waterside and had a delicious salmon dinner. There had been a discussion about returning to hear more about the history of Doyle’s after the meal, but tiredness won out and we retired for the night. The staff of Waterside B&B and Restaurant were so friendly and helpful, and the next morning we had a great breakfast of cereal, tea and coffee as well as the obligatory full Irish. The motorbike was safely stored away in a building to the rear where they keep the bikes and electric bikes they have for hire. The tow-paths beside the waterway were once used for the horses that towed the barges. Now bike hire businesses can take full advantage of them as ready made routes for their customers. The tow-paths are great for walkers too as the paths are flat and scenic and the next beautiful village, to the south, Saint Mullins, is only four miles along the path or Barrow Way, as it is known. In the other direction the Barrow Way is accessible all the way to the Grand Canal in County Kildare. Before we headed back out on the road, we walked down to look at the sports and rowing facility. The rowing club, unlike a lot of older, established rowing and boat clubs, is relatively new, having been founded in 2001. There are lots of sports and water activities here, swimming, canoeing and rowing as well as field sports. We were well impressed with the new poster over the rowing club. The O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen won silver in rowing in Rio but they also made a big impression at the Olympics and are now known for some famous statements they made while being interviewed. The rowing club have harnessed this popularity with a large sign of the two heroes on the clubhouse wall.