The joys of the bike rides we have at our ECF meetings are their multi-national flavour and a chance to explore a new country.
This year our excellent AGM hosts from Cyclists.ie had organised three completely different day rides to give us a different taste of the surrounding area. Residents of at least eight countries on our ride: Dutch, Danish, Russian, Luxembourgish, Belgian, Austrian, German and our Irish hosts. This picture gallery gives just a few of my favourite images of the day.
Our group went west to try out the early stages of the new Grand Canal cycle route, a greenway that runs about 10km west from the outskirts of Dublin. The canal itself runs 130km west to join the River Shannon but at present only some short stretches are cycle friendly. The greenway is an important step forward in a national touring network for Ireland.
The Grand Canal route itself is clearly a work in progress, it runs through some light industrial areas and a few of the more difficult neighbourhoods of the area so it is a bit Spartan and the authorities have felt the need to put in a lot of anti-motorcycle gates which are really tedious. But the green shoots of a nice route are already there with wildlife clearly enjoying the crystal clear water and the flow of water to the lock gates making attractive waterfalls at each stage.
With the day out designed by our hosts we were able to pick up hire bikes at the popular Phoenix Park cycle hire, tour through the huge expanse of the park, travel down the canal route, and visit the attractive village of Lucan. In Lucan itself a very unassuming back alley took us down to a lovely setting by a weir.
Our country house lunch was excellent, then coming back we followed the route of the River Liffey and a different route through the tree-lined car free roads of the park.