Reflections of riding the Irish Sea Cycle Route.
Last evening I watched ‘The Matrix’ for the umpteenth time. For me, there are so many interwoven threads and concepts, so many ideas, I have to keep watching it to help me try to understand what is actually going on in the world. One thing I do know - it’s the truth!
I just haven’t fathomed whether I am ‘in the matrix’‘ or ‘the real world’ waiting for the machines to take over! In some ways they have already – ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’. Down one of ‘the rabbit holes of truth’, I came across the North Sea Cycle Route, a 6000km route around the North Sea. This gave me the idea, the inspiration for a route within the British Isles – and so, the Irish Sea Cycle Route was born!
Obviously there was a bit more to it than that, but it was surely a
‘knock, knock Neo’ moment.
I consulted so many maps, strategic locations, sea ferry ports and many other factors and no need to consult ‘The Oracle’. This is definitely a good idea and the whole concept appeared viable. The appeal to me was to link Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in one big cycle tour. A circular tour that feels so inclusive. Maybe in the future I could include the Isle of Man and Anglesey. And so, a round trip in either direction of over 1000 miles and two sea ferry crossings should make an interesting expedition.
I purchased several Landranger OS maps to study potential routes. Was it really viable? Was it safe? Will it be a pleasure? I wanted to ride on quiet lanes through remote countryside and villages whilst 'kissing' the Irish Sea as much as possible. I didn’t want to take short cuts on inland ferries across estuaries, so decreed the only ferries to be used were the Irish Sea crossings - well it is a bike ride!
As the idea took shape, I felt it would be useful to share the concept with others, so I decided to build a website and commit the route to a map. Some more learning was needed but by Summer 2016, I went 'live' with the website.
Inevitably, decisions had to be taken to fix the route. Time to be pragmatic I thought. However, all the pragmatism in the world, or in the matrix, is not enough - the real test is to ride the route, only after this experience can I truly fix the route.
It is now late October 2016, several visits to ‘Wonderful Wales’ and ‘Sublime Scotland’ as well as riding the sections through England and I have ratified the route from Whitesands Bay near St Davids in Wales all the way to the lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway, Scotland.
Ireland is scheduled for 2017. After that, I hope to turn my attention to the two large Islands in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man and Anglesey.
Riding the route can only be described as a joy. Through rural villages linked by quiet back lanes contrasted with cycle-ways through iconic towns and wonderful cities like Liverpool, bathed in history, now celebrating the present.
Visiting and riding the sections of the route has required adjustment, each adjustment means re-mapping that section for the website. I estimate I have manipulated nearly a million map co-ordinates. During these mind-numbing moments of repetition, the words of Morpheus ring in my ears ‘… you are a slave, Neo. That you, like everyone else, was born into bondage … kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind … filled with map co-ordinates …‘.
Now, I must stick my head out of this 'rabbit-hole' and see what’s going on in the real world! Or is it the matrix?