Detour

A little bit delayed but better late than never. Premier Pro was driving me nuts so after upgrading to 12gb ram, it’s driving me slightly less nuts. Nuts slightly less. Either one. For some reason (after doing some minor colour corrections), it took about 1,000 times longer to export this video from Premier Pro than it did pre-corrections. I’ll figure that one out eventually.

I’m still pretty much in the testing phases with these drift cameras, their first big trip will be in a couple of weeks time to the highlands.

The above is the first part of the Easter weekend trip to Cork. We took the road to Cork less traveled by riding down to Carlow, into Wexford and onto Waterford before hitting Cork from the east. A surprise attack on a Friday afternoon to get the weekend off to a flying start. The reason for the detour was to get some otherwise pain in the ass photo rally points in the bag, namely the ones in Wexford near New Ross and the slightly less pain in the ass Waterford point just outside Dungarvan. From Dungarvan it was a straight run (via the perfectly twisty main road) to Cork.

As before, until I pay my $60 a year dues to Vimeo, the above embedded video is in bog standard SD. If you want to view it the way nature intended, go to the video page on Vimeo for some HD lovin’.

Part 2 will be along shortly and will be a much less time lapse affair. Off into the wilds of west Cork & Kerry for that one.

Photo Rally 2012

Insurance renewed, road tax paid. 6000 mile service not done but time to get photo rallying once again. We decided to start on Saturday and the trip out as far as Roscrea would work well given that I needed (wanted) to call into the home brew shop in Mountmellick to get some supplies (and another kit). Having ridden as far as Rathangan and completely forgot to stop at the rally point near Robertstown, we doubled back and eventually found the point after a lot of head scratching, swearing at the GPS and double checking with Google maps satellite photos.

No sooner had we parked up at Ballyteige Castle (that was the rally point) and taken a few photos that I noticed some rather menacing clouds coming our way. Bit of rain, no big deal. No. Horizontal snow/sleet/ice and lots of it. Admitting defeat fairly early on in the snowstorm, we packed up and headed back to Dublin, stopping occasionally to wipe the one inch accumulation of snow off the windscreen of the bike. Fun times.

So we tried again the next day. The weather was significantly better.

Capard ridge trig pillar near Mountmellick. I still don’t have a good understanding of what a trig pillar is or was but I imagine it’s for measurement or performing some kind of calculation. If anyone wants to enlighten me, feel free. This point was reached by a fairly easily traversable muddy path. No fecking about avoiding the huge puddles, just roll on the throttle and power through them. Glad I hadn’t spent a couple of hours the previous week polishing the wheels and engine bars. Oh wait, I did.

The best was yet to come. One that we’d heard was abandoned when the group arrived at it. One that, now that we’ve done it, I’m sure will be abandoned by many who don’t wish to get half of north Tipperary encrusted onto their shiny machines. It’ll be equally abandoned by those who have an overwhelming fear of dropping their bikes.

Monaincha Abbey, just outside Roscrea. Not much to say except ‘holy shit’. Last year the ‘off road offering’ involved getting your bike from a car park on the top of a hill up a dry stony path. The stakes have been well and truly raised this year. If you make it through the first muddy path, through all the puddles, past all the ruts and avoiding the branches that want to smack you in the face when you ride by, you’re in for a treat. Through a gate into a field where the path as you knew it pretty much disappears. Instead you get muddy rut A or muddy rut B. Pretty much nothing to do except put down the power and see if you can keep the bike upright. Then you get to step off the bike and sink down to your ankles. Now this is photo rallying at it’s finest! I was almost tempted to sit at the abbey and wait for someone to turn up on a Goldwing. Yes, us GS owners are a smug lot. Self-entitled too!

I will freely admit to preferring the sweep and camber of a nice bit of bone dry tarmac over a soggy, torn up farmers field any day. This mostly comes from riding into said soggy fields, dropping the bike and realising it’s not that easy to pick back up. My off roading is henceforth to be put on the back burner until such time as I get a bike that weighs about a third of the GS and has knobbly tyres on it. End of story.

From Roscrea, back onto the N roads and toward Carlow. My favorite town in all of Ireland. Oh yes. Sarcasm, me? After trying to get around the road works and truly awful drivers (of which there were many) in the town, we headed to the Carlow/Kilkenny point at Old Leighlin. Time was pressing on so this was a quick one. The locals also seemed to be puzzled at our presence. Someone better tell them to expect hundreds more bikers before the year is out.

The evening was drawing in and our plan (well, my plan) of squeezing in the Wicklow point (near Blessington) before night fall was doomed. Thankfully it’s on a route we regularly take for a Sunday spin anyway, so no harm done. The rest of the journey was spent avoiding nyctalopic idiots driving at 40kph and of course the flurry of people you usually get when out riding that are unusually and unreasonably aggressive towards bikers.

So, 4 points down, 20 to go!

The Edge of the Country

Rally

A photo rally point yesterday on the edge of the country in north west Kerry. Somewhere not too far from Ballinskelligs to be precise. (Edit; also as photographed elsewhere, but with a bit more style than I can muster)

After coming back from the UK on Wednesday evening (and having had a very relaxing journey back), I repacked the bike on Thursday and along with Julie headed south to Cork for the second in a row of long weekends.

Getting out of bed on Friday morning to the sights and sounds of “The Royal Wedding” (I’m sure there’s a patent pending in there somewhere) was enough encouragement to eat a quick breakfast and head out on the bike once more. That and I was also getting the universal sign of ‘need coffee’ from Julie so we headed into Cork coffee roasters for a predictably tasty couple of large ones.

From there to Kinsale and thankfully avoided big rugby weekend. Got through the town without a hitch and made our way up to a breezy photo point on the old head. After some grass sitting, some munching of ’emergency chocolate biscuits’ (that is, the chocolate biscuits that live in the top box of the bike so they’re on hand 24/7) it was back to Carrigaline to buy some socks.

As I’d recently discovered that my head fairly closely resembled some kind of budget priced mop, I also took the opportunity to get much of my hair removed. Saturday morning and down to Waterville to do the above photo rally point and meet a friend who was holidaying/chilling out with his daughter in the area. One tasty Chinese takeaway, several well needed beers and a couple of handfuls of crisps later and the next thing I knew, it was Sunday morning.

Back to Cork and I’m now eying up a large kinder easter egg. It will shortly disappear entirely, except of course for the large inner quite indigestible part of it. Back to Dublin and/or normality tomorrow. The lack of tread left on the back tyre of my motorbike is testament to what an amazing double bank holiday I’ve had. Who needs double rainbows when you can have double bank holidays?!?

Half way to Silver

After I bought the bike back in January, I began hearing about an event called “Photo Rally” on a few of the bike forums. The idea behind it is simple, there are 24 locations throughout the island of Ireland and you need to travel to as many as possible to earn a bronze, silver or gold award at the end of the year. It’s not a recent idea either. It began way back in 1975 with a Limerick man.

Looking especially uncomfortable for some reason. No, I don’t much like having my photo taken.

Photographing your steed with all 24 landmarks earns you gold, 18 gets you silver and 12 sorts you out with bronze. The idea behind it is to get out and have some fun on the roads, finding new places and meeting up with likeminded folks. I may only be 9 locations into the challenge, but I’ve managed to pack in all three so far.

It’s great riding out into the countryside to some off the beaten track landmark only to meet a perfect stranger and be able to chat at length about where we’ve both been so far, where’s next and where we don’t think we’re going to get to before the November 17th deadline. My God, the previous sentence almost makes me sound like an approachable, friendly sort. Maybe I can blame that on the photo rally too?

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All but one of my visited rally points have been wonderfully obscure. On the tops of hills, back country roads and some in villages I never knew existed. The Fermanagh/Tyrone point almost lived up to it’s ‘tricky’ status by throwing a short section of off road riding in the way. I can’t imagine too many guys on sports bikes are going to manage or even attempt that one. The photography so far has been quite simple. Although there is an incentive to be creative, I’ve found it quite difficult to do so with the criteria. It’s a simple case of ‘heres the shot, heres my bike in the shot. rally point complete’. Maybe as the summer comes in and the weather heats up a bit I’ll be more inclined to stretch my photo rally creative photography legs.

I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far and I hope to get as close to photographing all 24 points as possible. There was even talk on a popular UK bike forum about running a similar event in Scotland. As if I needed another excuse to jump on the ferry to the highlands for two weeks!