G’day fellow travellers. My name is Karli and I’m a 25 year old from Brisbane, Australia and I am on a mission to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way.
I have wanted to visit Ireland for as long as I can remember. My interest in Ireland came initially from…please don’t judge me…Enya. My mum refused to turn on the radio during my formative years and so I was constantly exposed to music from artists such as Enya, Clannad and Sinead O’Connor. This meant that I was one of those really, really popular kids at school that knew all the words to sail away, sail away, sail away.
These musicians had a huge impact on my music interests and resulted in my complete fascination with the beautiful green country that birthed such talent. Besides Enya, I have always loved the culture, the landscapes, the accents, the people and the alcohol (not necessarily in that order).
So I decided, whilst staring into the abyss in my old job, that I was going to spend the next year saving for a super cliché quit-your-job-find-yourself-Eat-Pray-Love style Irish travel adventure on a bike. I love cycling. It is my belief that travelling by bike is the best way to truly experience new surroundings and get mega buns of steel (‘tight booty’ or ‘dat ass’) doing it. What better way to achieve this than to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way.
Whilst on a call with my auntie (who married my Irish uncle and moved to Nenagh) I decided to tell her about my plans. My auntie and uncle own Moynans Bike Store in Nenagh and so they were the best people to advise me on my journey. My uncle is a cyclist himself and knows the country like the back of his hand. My idea was met with the sort of silence provided to allow the individual speaking to reveal that they were in fact joking the entire time. Then an uncomfortable laugh. Then more silence. It took a few weeks before any of us, including myself, realised I was serious and still of sound mind. My auntie and uncle then became tentatively excited by the idea. After that a lot of my planning was just donating/giving away most of my possessions, applying for a visa and buying a ticket. They were kind enough to put a bike and all necessary gear aside that I would need to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way.
I was going to travel alone because I’m fiercely independent and didn’t want another person seeing how often I have to stop cycling to catch my breath.
I also opted to use youth hostels instead of camping as it would afford me the opportunity to meet people from all around the world, learn their stories, form deep connections and scope out unwilling candidates to carry me back to the hostel after one too many pints. Hostels seemed like the perfect option for accommodation as there were no minimum days required and you didn’t need to plan too far ahead to get a bed. Whilst I didn’t have a lot of experience in hostels and the prospect of a 10 bed dorm room was a little daunting, I knew that I’d come out with stories regardless.
I knew it was an achievable feat because every man, woman and child seemed to be planning to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way at some stage. So steel buns in mind, I quit my job and bought a one way ticket to Dublin. From there I made my way to Tipperary for a couple of weeks (more about this later). With a complete naivete regarding Irish weather patterns, I set off along the west coast from Quilty in Co. Clare heading northwards.
I first heard this from a lovely Irish woman I had been talking to whilst waiting for the ferry in Rosaveel. At the time, the significance of the blessing was lost on me. Having spent a few more weeks cycling in Ireland, I now know that the wind at your back is both a rare and precious, precious dear god so precious thing.
If you want to hear about the rest of Karli’s adventures as she attempts to cycle the Wild Atlantic Way, sign up to our newsletter.