I see these have thumb shifters and decent grips.
Out we go, sounding like an orchestra of mice, for our first 5-mile ride.
But hills aren't for everybody; some of our number pull over panting and opt to walk their bikes. I speed past them as if it were catching.
It's not that I want to show off my riding skills - I wish I could say I were coming from a balanced place. The fact is, my brush with cancer last year has left me over-terrified of physical weakness brought about by my own inactivity. I blame myself for the two years I sat at the computer scarcely moving from my desk chair, as I worked on two documentaries - and neglected my health. I rue my behavior then - except that it led to my being here now. But the memories of bicycling to radiation treatments are still very fresh - I have 6 months check ups and mammograms to remind me; and I'm afraid I'll need to put a lot of miles - and a lot of hills - between them and me before I can calm down and just ride. For now, I'm fighting for every mile; the miles provide me the opportunity to fight an enemy I cannot see and cannot confront face to face.
Meanwhile, after our ride, we gather in Sheedy's den for a cheerful Meet and Greet.
We are offered beer and wine on the house, which is generous - but we could find these offerings at home. Peeking behind the bar, I see a lot of other options - and I'm hankering for something particularly Irish. Our hostess, Martina, brings me a single malt whiskey that she says will not interfere with a dining palate. It goes down like honey. Wow. I've never had a whiskey like this. Welcome to Ireland!
And off we go to dinner.
That said, there has been a revolution generally in Irish cuisine; we never have a bad meal during this trip, not even when we go off on our own, not even in the pubs. And for celiacs especially, it's a relief to have potatoes readily available.
I look forward to our first real day of riding tomorrow, and hope for enough miles on this trip to keep my demons at bay.