Have you ever been travelling by car and spotted something really beautiful? It happens often. Maybe it’s an amazing view, or an animal in the field, or perhaps a beautiful building. The urge is always the same; stop the car… get out… take a closer look…enjoy the surroundings… take some photos! How often though has it happened that you wanted to stop, but you couldn’t find a spot to park. Eventually, you find yourself driving so far past the place that piqued your interest that you simply decide it’s easier to continue on.
How much better would it be if you could simply stop where you wanted, when you wanted, without the fear of motorists honking at you to get out of the way? How much better would it be if you were always immersed in the experience, without having to get out of a vehicle first?
Welcome to the world of the bike tourist!
Touring by bicycle is not just about indulging your visual senses, but the other 4 in equal measure. It’s not just about the sights. It’s about the sounds, the smells, the feelings, and even the tastes as well!
To get an idea of the sheer variety, imagine yourself cycling along any typical coastal road in Ireland, now imagine the feast for your senses.
1 – Sight
We probably don’t need to say anything about this one. Ireland is well known for its beauty. But the feast for the eyes is not just in the landscapes, It could be the roadside flowers, the tiny birds and animals, the curious coloured rocks on the shore, the leaves changing colour in Autumn, and so much more.
2 – Sound
As Ireland’s beauty is legendary, you probably already know about, and may well have seen, the amazing views, the green fields, the beaches, and all the other wonderful sights. But what about the sounds? It could be the bleating of young lambs in spring, or waves crashing off rocks by the seaside, or the rustle of leaves or birds in the trees overhead, or a tiny roadside stream among a myriad of other sounds. As you travel by bike you don’t just hear the sounds, rather they become part of the overall tapestry – woven into the landscape where they emerge from – creating a more complete and fulfilling experience.
3 – Smell
And what about the smells? The smell of the salty sea air that you inhale as you cycle along Ireland’s coast adds greatly to the sense of place and the overall experience. Or you could catch the rich coconut-like smell of the brightly blooming whins (gorse) as you cycle along in the month of May. It could be the heather in August, or freshly cut hay in June or July, or the smells of so many of the other wild flowers you pass along the way.
4 – Touch
Touch! What about touch? It’s wonderful to smell (and quite possibly taste) the salty sea air, but the sense of the sea breezes against your face can be just as exhilirating. When visiting one of the many sandy beaches take off your shoes and feel the massaging effect of the sand, then dip your toe (or your entire body) in the water for a completely different feel, or you might pass a farm gate and stop to stroke a friendly horse who leans over it to greet you.
5 – Taste
If you are longing for a new taste, then perhaps some juicy blackberries from the roadside are just the thing. If you are here in late August they are in such abundance that you could spend all day, every day, picking and eating them! Take care with that juice though – it can leave its mark on your clothing! You might also find wild bilberries, (blueberries) known as frochans in some parts of Ireland, typically growing among the heather. If you know where to look wild peas and raspberries are among the other free edible treats to be had along the roadside.
Now, imagine travelling the same road by bus or car. Think about the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel and the tastes you will have missed out on. So take your time and travel slowly, enjoy the fresh air and you will find something to satisfy all five senses. Five great reasons to tour by bicycle!