Mizen to Malin
After last year’s Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle ride, we found ourselves being attracted to Ireland’s equivalent end-to-end challenge – Mizen to Malin. That’s Mizen Head in County Cork to Malin Head in County Donegal.
The plan was to attempt this ride in 2015, but a hint of good weather in early September sent us scurrying into Google overdrive. It’s surprising what you can do when you put your mind to it and four days after committing to the trip we were cycling across Belfast in search of Central Station and the train to Dublin.
Our quick research had devised a way of getting to within 18 miles of Mizen Head by public transport. The Cairnryan ferry to Belfast was followed by trains to Dublin then Cork on day one, leaving us with a 2 hour 20 minute bus ride to Schull the following morning. The cycling began with a ride out to Mizen Head, which made a nice warm-up before taking our selfies at the headland and then getting started on the journey to Malin Head.
I am currently writing an article on the full trip, so will leave that for another time. For this particular blog, however, I want to concentrate on a couple of points of interest.
At the end of the first day of cycling we stayed the night in the colourful coastal village of Glengarriff. Shortly after reaching Glengarriff I had a chat with a cyclist from Bristol who told me about a road safety commercial he had seen the previous evening on Irish TV. This short advertisement had been aimed at informing drivers about cycling and the need to allow plenty of space for the safety of cyclists.
Since returning to Scotland I have found this advert on YouTube. It’s well worth taking a minute to watch it.
From day 2 onwards we were aware of there being a public service film about cycling safety on Irish TV, so it made us even more aware of how much space drivers were giving us on the roads. Now, admittedly this is only anecdotal evidence based on our personal observations, but by the end of the trip we felt that it had been drivers from mainland Britain that had given us the least amount of space when overtaking. Drivers from Ireland and Northern Ireland were far more likely to give us an extra half metre or metre when overtaking. Could that be put down to the TV advertisement? Who knows? It would be difficult to prove a correlation between a TV advertisement and the behaviour of motorists across a nation, but the message from the TV campaign must be influencing some motorists and that must surely be helping to make the roads a safer place. It did leave us wondering if the UK should have a similar cycling safety video for use as a TV advertisement.
Over the course of the trip we stayed in an official youth hostel, independent hostels, B&Bs, hotel and a friend’s house. It is always interesting to note the reaction of the proprietor’s face when you turn up with bikes and ask if they have somewhere to store them for the night. Thanks to the heatwave we enjoyed on this trip, we weren’t arriving on their doorsteps dripping wet and covered in oil, but we still needed somewhere to park our bikes for the night and be confident they would be there in the morning. All the places we stayed at seemed used to welcoming cyclists and each one had a system for safely storing bikes overnight. That was great to see and an indication of how accommodation providers are increasingly aware of the needs of cyclists.
Compared to LEJOG, Mizen to Malin was more relaxed, manageable and enjoyable. The actual Mizen to Malin part of the trip took 9 days, with a daily average of just under 50 miles. It’s a great cycle ride that I would recommend to anyone that enjoys cycle touring. Not only is the cycling really enjoyable, but I guarantee you will also have more than the occasional laugh along the way.