Self Led Tours
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Office: +353 91 877323
Office Hours: 9.30am to
5.00pm Mon to Fri (GMT)
what is bringing our guests back to CycleWest Ireland for more...
Greet the People, Meet the Land!
''My wife and I were used
to biking in Vermont, but this was our first guided tour. And a wonderful tour it was
indeed. This tour celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, so Virginia was very careful in
evaluating all the possible tour offerings for the West Coast of Ireland.
After much research and some very personal correspondence with a number of companies, we
selected CycleWest as the company most likely to provide a breathtaking biking experience,
and we were not disappointed.
Fidelma, who runs the company as well, could not have been a more gracious or attentive
host. She went well beyond our expectations in personalizing our experience so that
sometimes we had the feeling we were the
only ones on the tour. ..she went to remarkable lengths to make our special trip
The biking itself was magnificent, starting in the Burren and riding north via the Aran
Islands to Connemara and finally Westport. Coming from Vermont, we were used to cycling
among beautiful mountains and lakes, but I must say one day in Connemara stands out as the
best biking day I've ever experienced.
We began at the Lodge at
Delphi and went down the valley with the
famine memorial, then along the coast to Westport. Fidelma and her vehicle support were
never far away, and she would sometimes stop us to give a guided tour of something
important, like Pearse's Cottage (Pearse worked tirelessly to preserve the Gaelic language
and was executed
Richard & Virgina
Munkelwitz, Burlington, VT.
at a young age for his participation in the Easter Rebellion, one early step in Irish
independence.), or the site of the (crash) landing of the first transatlantic flight.
We only had one day of rain in about 12 we
spent in Ireland, so we biked every planned day but one. June is a great month to bike in Ireland
(is there a bad month?). And on that day Fidelma took us by van to see the key sights.
The food was exceptional, as were our inns. All the people we met were gracious and
welcoming. The equipment was excellent, and the biking was extremely safe because of the
ingenious routes that Fidelma's father charted years ago.
We think that Fidelma's obvious pride in her company and its growing international
reputation made a major contribution to our enjoyment. Coming from Vermont, we realize the
importance of living in a stunningly beautiful part of the world.
The Irish people who live on the West Coast are similarly
blessed, and it was a joy to ride through their land and to meet these wonderful and warm
An Irish Cycling Adventure, written by Dave
The following is a
travelogue of an invigorating tandem tour in Connemara with
CycleWest Ireland, by Dave White, San Diego.
Like our previous overseas travel, no doubt of the enrichment factor provided by the core
cycling tour around which the trip was planned. Once again, we opted for a
high-end experienced outfit with inclusive package tours and individual options (including
self-guided with luggage transfer). We chose CycleWest Ireland (www.cyclewest.com) operated by Fidelma Ray, who
combines a passion of Ireland and biking with a caring touch for individual attention and
a desire to bathe her guests in the regional jewels of her homeland
Our cycling guide Patsy (short for Patrick) was both informative and
entertaining, with a bike racing background and magnetic personality. Part of the
entertainment was translating Patsys Northern Irish accent and
unfamiliar phrasing of the English language - Stoker and I would often team up to pick out
key words and conversationally repeat back the information. Patsy has
the rare combination in guiding - taking time and energy to encourage and assist
less-experienced cyclists along the way, while picking other opportunities to stir the
juices in more advanced participants, leading us on optional excursions with bonus
rewards. We shared the group experience with three other engaging couples, one with
a 19-year-old son with junior racing background. All were pleasant and supportive
travel companions on and off the road.
The Cannondale Mountain Tandem was selected by
Fidelma to complement her fleet of Gary Fisher hybrids, all perfectly suited for the
mostly backroad routes. The roads service all varieties of two-way traffic and vary
in width of pavement and buffering foliage. We encountered everything from
super-sized tour coaches to minicars, farm equipment to flocks of sheep, Harleys to
pedestrians - all encounters were friendly and safe - although Stoker will admit to a few
white knuckles in our travels in a midget Mercedes car for hire, when the sum of the
widths of our car and the approaching coach was calculated to exceed the total width of
roadway. Our cycling roads were generally much less traveled than the roads we
drove, and all our travels benefited from avoiding peak tourist season (June - August).
to the amazing bike - stock aluminum Cannondale Mountain Tandem with 26 wheels,
knobbie tires swapped out for low-profile tread (2.25 inch). Otherwise stock setup
with front/rear disc brakes (great), Shimano triple (22/32/44) 9 speed (11-34),
finger/thumb trigger shifters, stoker suspension seatpost, and accessorized with front bar
mount and rear rack mount gear bags and stoker map holder. We added a stoker
signaling bell. We adjusted very quickly to the bike, affixing our SPD pedals and
stoker saddle - and constantly enjoyed the nimble performance, bonus standover clearance,
and reserve traction for occasional spotty gravel. Our mirrors were useful, but
cycling (and driving) on the left was never an issue.
Our weather was great, if not entirely typical. Only full day of rain/drizzle
came on a car day after the tour. Otherwise, occasional overnight
precipitation yielded to clearing conditions during breakfast and typical days featured
blue skies dotted with puffball clouds pushed by mild breezes and temps in the 60s (F).
Just enough extra weather (spit of rain, dark cloud formations and persistent
wind) to add a little flavor. Speaking of flavor, our breakfast and dinner meals (included
in package) and service were excellent and accommodations were social and
comfortable. Pubs were most plentiful and contained resources of food, brew,
and conversation (or information, if in need). The Ballynahinch Castle Hotel was
idyllic (and yes romantic).
day of the tour was filled with Irish treats - encounters in traditional staples of
farming and wool production, music making, and medieval forts and castles; and
eye-pleasing landscapes like the Cliffs of Moher - punctuated with villages of old-world
charm augmented by new-age progress. Most vivid image of cultural shift was the
sight of an elderly Irishman on the old world Aran Island, in his horse-drawn
cart for hire with cell phone held to ear and conversing to the wind (see photo below).
On the final two riding
days, we took options to extend and elevate the route. We took the Sheefry Pass
challenge (popular training and race route) with Patsy and young Riley, and navigated two
700 ft climbs accented with grand views and separated by a descent and valley traverse.
The second climb was Alicante/Fuerte-like, with sections of ever-increasing
pitch and legs questioning the decision. But Stoker delivered and tandem arose to
grant more fields of green. The final day offered more climbing and rollers for
tandem delight, as we managed to outrun the ride-ending sweep vehicle, with a final
off-route excursion. With apologies to Fidelma and Patsy (it was entirely
unintentional - must have been the Bulmers cider at OTooles) but so was it
fun, as was the entire fortnight!
This was one of the best vacations
of our lives -
We will definitely be taking more vacations with you
A review by Bicycling Magazine
'This is rebel country, a rugged
landscape of rocky coast
and waterlogged peatlands
that you don't see on the
soft, emerald green wall posters
in travel agencies'.
More > (PDF file)
JOIN THE CONVERSATION:
I must say that everything has been excellent. (Five stars*****),
even the weather you provided us. Many thanks.
Mauro and Gabriela Belisario, Roma, Italy
one of the best vacations of our lives - without all of your timely and thorough
assistance, there is no way we would have been able to pull off this trip! We will
definitely be taking more vacations with you
Barbara and Shane Treadway, Boston,
"Our trip was fabulous!. You really know how to
organize a tour for the greatest scenery and wonderful accommodations.
....the little lanes we spent the majority of our time on were so relaxing and fun to ride
on. They also got us into the wilderness and I often felt we were a hundred miles from
Peters & Family, Superior, Colorado
experience. We were thrilled with the first rate tour guide, driver,
support, tailored route//experience to our needs,
.. everything! Ireland was fantastic!
Kimberley and Darryl
Minard, Burlington, ON,
father and I had a wonderful time. The cycling was adventurous. I particularly
enjoyed cycling on the tiny roads of Connemara---where sheep seem to be the only road
traffic in many places. Your knowledge of the region combined with your dedication
to all the details of our trip enabled me to learn about the region, enjoy its
beauty and cycle without a worry"
We loved our trip and consider it one of our favourite vacations! We loved discovering the Connemara region of
the people and the landscape were wonderful!
Thank you for taking such great care of us too. Thank you Aoife and
John for working so hard to give us a fantastic trip. We are still humming our favourite
Jennifer and Keith Martin, Toronto, ON,
"My favourite day was the cycle from Leenane to
Westport, seeing the mountains and fresh water lakes, plus the traffic was very
"I have decided that
Ireland is my favorite place on Earth! I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the bike
tour. It was so beautiful and amazing! I really want to go again"
"We appreciate the
extra time you spent organising our beautiful Anniversary ceremony. We will remember it
for the rest of our lives"
and Dale Utt, Co
"We had such a wonderful time!
It was one of our best family vacations. It was so nice to be together,
and to be outside on bicycles. The kids would have been bored silly if they were on
a tour bus the entire time. Being on a bicycle is so liberating, and just so
much fun. And Patsy and Elizabeth were just the most amazing guides. Hopefully more
families will do this, when they realize just how fantastic it is! "
& Patrick Eaton Robb, Connecticut