Ireland - Heading to the West Coast (August 9th - 13th) (continued)
I stayed overnight in the small town of Strokestown, County Roscommon  to visit the famine museum and Strokestown Park House. The manor built in 1847 showed how a wealthy family would live in the years before, during and after the famine. The Mahon estate became famous when the owner Denis Mahon was assassinated by family members of some tenants that died en route to Canada after being sent on a boat by the General. He was attempting to relocate tenants from his land but paid for their voyage out of his own money to help them during difficult times here. Many died en route and the family members left behind attached blame to him. He was actually trying to help them but the conditions on the overcrowded boat led to the deaths, not his attempts to save them. Just outside the gates of the Park House was a B&B.
The Island of Ireland has 4 provinces and 32 counties with 26 of those counties in the Republic of Ireland and 6 in Northern Ireland. The Republic is simply known as Ireland and is an official country with a seat at the U.N (seated alphabetically and maybe a little uncomfortably between Iraq and Israel). Northern Ireland is a province of the U.K (similar to Scotland and Wales). I have passed through the counties of Dublin, Meath, Westmeath, Longford and am currently in Roscommon. Some of the more famous counties which I will also travel include Galway, Clare, Limerick and Cork).

The people of Ireland are exceptionally friendly, outgoing, curious and talkative and it would be difficult to get through the day without some questions from the locals, usually when I stop for a drink or bite to eat or at one of the B&B's. I am often asked how far I bike each day and it's not a simple question. I used to hate it when I ask a question and people say "that depends" but in this case it depends. The key factors are how much I biked the previous day and if I am still tired but also on the wind, hills, temperature and if there are facilities around at a reasonable time to stop.  I tend to focus on time (i.e. number of hours on the bike) rather than miles because of the varying conditions, particularly if there is a head or tail wind or if the terrain is flat or in the mountains. If you set an approximate time of 5 hours, it leaves you time to explore, set up camp, cook, clean, read, write journal entries, clean my bike, laundry etc., without feeling too rushed. If I bike more than that I also get fatigued and that will impact the next day and eventually biking each day becomes a chore. I have a long way to go and don't want to get the feeling that it is becoming repetitive. At this point, the headwinds have limited my time on the bike and I want to ensure that I get a full recovery for the next day. Even if you bike 3 hours per day, your fitness will build and allow you to handle any unexpected long days that will come.

I am also asked how fast I can bike with those big pannier bags acting as a drag. I have a cycling computer on my bike that tracks time, speed, average speed, total distance and it only operates when you are actually moving so you can get an exact reading. I calibrated the computer based on the size of the wheels and the distances are exact to the map I follow so I know it is accurate. In terms of speed, the biggest factor is wind and not hills because if you have hills, they go up and down so the average speed is not impacted as much but with wind, it can both slow you and sap your energy. I would say my typical speed is 12 mph (20kmh) which is pedestrian compared with a racing bike the 100 lbs. or so that I carry tends to slow you down. I have also determined that with breaks built in a general rule of thumb is that I travel 10 miles per hour (16 kmh) so if I know a town is 30 miles (50 km) ahead, I should leave 3 hours.

Tomorrow is Saturday August 14th (Happy Anniversary to my Mom (rest her soul) and Dad.