The Epic Irish Bike Tour of County Donegal

Take an epic bike tour around Ireland // Nattie on the Road

I should start by saying I am a casual cyclist, I would bike to work in San Francisco, I’d bike around town and to friends houses. Occasionally Rob and I would take a ride over to Marin, and take the ferry back to the city. And that is pretty much the extent of my biking.

Rob is an avid cyclist, he’s got several different types of bikes, wears the spandex, and thinks a 40 mile ride with a lot of uphill is the dream.

The idea of a bike tour sounded both exciting and daunting when Rob first brought it up. Getting to see Ireland by bike sounds awesome! But I was very concerned about both the hill and cars situations. Rob promised to find us a good route – both scenic and safe.

group shot with the GoPro // Nattie on the Road

Mapping out our route over coffee // Nattie on the Road

PLANNING

Instead of using a tour group to plan everything out for us, we planned it out all ourselves. And when I saw “we” I mean Rob did most of the planning with input from me, Alex, and Maggie. We chose the route in County Donegal, in the northwest corner of Ireland, for its beautiful views and lack of tourists, meaning the roads would not have a ton of cars or tour busses.

My concern for hills was mostly forgotten, for some stupid reason I assumed Ireland was mostly flat anyways. Oh, how wrong I was.

IDK, its like I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to do some flying kick because I'm so excited // Nattie on the Road

THE BIKES

We were able to rent bikes from a little shop called The Bike Stop in Bundorn, just south of where we planned to start. The shop owner was able to set us up with brand new touring bikes, as well as paneer bags for all our stuff, and repair kits, should anything happen while on the road. He was even nice enough to drive them up to Donegal Town where we planned to start. Really stellar service!

THE SCENERY

The scenery we saw was nothing less than spectacular. The first day we rode along the west coast Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal Town to Glencolumbkille. The cliffs and the ocean along here were nothing short of breath taking.

Bike Tour County Donegal // Nattie on the Road

Little Irish Towns // Nattie on the Road

The next morning on our way out we were chatting with the own of our hostel and told him we were heading toward Doochary, his response was a laugh and “well if you think this is remote, Doochary’s really out in the middle of nowhere”.
It really was, and it was awesome. We got to cruise down back roads without a car in sight! And while riding down the middle of the road like I owned it, I did one of those no handed victory moves and swallowed a bug, very humbling.

Ride off into the sunset and find your adventure! // Nattie on the Road

Foggy beautiful Ireland // Nattie on the Road

Rolling Irish hills // Nattie on the Road

On the third day we rode through Glenveagh National Park{link}, it was foggy and drizzly but beautiful.

Tiny Irish horses // Nattie on the Road

Little sheep by the road // Nattie on the Road

Some of my favorite parts of the ride were the critters, tons of sheep and goats, and even some mini horses! (ponies?)

THE RIDE

The ride was hard, I’m not going to lie about that. To say I underestimated the hill situation would be a gross understatement. There were more hills than any of us anticipated, and not just hills, mountains too.

I probably should have trained for this adventure, but I didn’t, and it left me icing my knee with a pint of Guinness in the pub after the first day. (I was literally holding the cold glass on my knee!)

biking can be rough // Nattie on the Road

I honestly had a really hard time. The pain in my knee only got worse the more we rode, and I started to fall really far behind the group because I was going so slow. At times I got really frustrated, because it’s hard to enjoy the scenery when you are in pain and can’t keep up. But I managed to make it through each day with only minor meltdowns and (surprisingly) no tears.

good views and great friends // Nattie on the Road

If I had to do it all again, I totally would (hopefully with a little extra training). I got to see a part of Ireland I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise and got to enjoy some spectacular views. I can’t complain about the company either, nothing can be too bad when you are with some of your favorite people.

If you are interested in our route you can check it out here. But remember it is not for the faint of heart. If you are interested in doing a bike tour in Ireland these companies look pretty legit and could put together something awesome, Iron Donkey Bicycle Touring & Trek Travel. Or if you are a bad ass cyclist make your own adventure! Just check elevation changes (for real!)

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  1. Pingback: 4 Best Ways to Experience Ireland - Nattie on the Road

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