I arrived at the Clifden Station House just after 3pm today and was itching to get out on the bike. This part of the country is truly unique and has so much to offer cyclists with spectacularly scenic roads and challenging climbs.
The Sky road got its name in the early part of the last century when visitors asked where the high road led to, and were told that it led to the sky. I liked the sound of that, so this was to be my first port of call. The view at the summit is one of the most photographed in the Country and justifiably so.
The descent is short and fast and leads to another shoreside meandering road that keeps you looking out across the water as the scene changes, sometimes dramatically from bend to bend.
Boats, and goats, donkeys and mounds of turf. Old stone cottages with thatched roofs and new bungalows designed to blend in with the environment all grab your attention. What you do not notice are cars or vans, as the traffic is so light on the road once you pass the main viewing point.
All too soon Sky road comes to an end after about 8k. You can continue on right back to Clifden but I choose to turn left and then left again. Out around the next peninsula to see more of the sea.
A short way down this road I pass a guy taking a call on a recumbent, a man I would again meet later on the spin.
Shortly after, I see a sign for Omey Island 1km down a side road. My curiosity draws me in and I detour to check it out.
I look out ahead at the reflected grandeur of the Island on the shimmering water and wonder how this road will lead me over there in what should now be less than a kilometre. My question is soon answered when the road abruptly comes to a halt at the waters edge. Access to the Island is via a tidal roadway, and now that the tide is in the roadway is submerged.
After a short sojourn on a memorial seat, contemplating the comfort that sitting in this place must offer those who have lost, it’s time to get back on the road.
I am soon back on my original route and find myself catching up to the rider on the recumbent once again. I ride up alongside and the conversation flows, as always happens when cyclists meet on the road. I am very interested in hearing about his machine .
We roll along side by side and chat away. Andy Higginson has a B&B in the area and rides up to 80k per day on his recumbent. He is also a brother in law of the former UCI president Pat McQuaid. After a while he turns for home and I continue on. A short time later his wife Ann passes by in the car and pulls up alongside to say a friendly hello to a fellow cyclist.
The road now is narrow but the view is once again breathtaking as I look out across the bay towards Inisboffin in the distance.
I continue on towards the fishing village of Cleggan and watch some of the local fishermen unload their catch of the day and decide that when I return to the Clifden Station House I will be having some fish for dinner this evening.
After crossing a causeway the route now ventures back inland. With majestic mountains rising up in the distance the scenery is still just as spectacular. The road surfaces all along the route are good and the hills are challenging but not overly so.
A brief reconnection with the main road from Westport to Clifden brings me back to the Station House once more. This picture perfect town and its hinterland has plenty to offer cyclists and I look forward to tomorrow when I will explore even more.
This route would rate a four out of seven for difficulty.
Here is a downloadable map of todays Clifden Station House 52k
Here is todays Strava file
And here is a smartphone downloadable file on mapmyride
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