Distance cycled: 156km (split over a few days)
Number of babies born on Inisheer in 2010: 9
Number of ballerinas busking in Galway: 12
Lowlight: Losing my camera and not realising I had left it at a country pub.
Highlight: The barman of that same pub spots me walking on the street in a different town, parks his car, tells me about the camera and then returns to the pub to collect it and drops it to me 20km away that evening.
Yesterday as I walked into the trendy White Gables café, in Moycullen I noticed how startled the yummy mummys were by my lycra cycling outfit. The world of Cycle Touring and Cappuccinos & Cupcakes rarely meets - unless of course you're tagging along with Indiana June. On tour my wardrobe is limited to a few functional pieces of clothing and it has made me realise how often we judge people based on what they're wearing. I enjoy travelling light but there are times when I want to scream, 'I don't always look like this, I wear dresses and makeup and stuff… and I know how to use a hairdryer!' But it's too late, they've already put me in a box. But it got me thinking, is the story of our lives woven into the clothes that we wear?
After cycling from Listowel to Doolin where I caught the ferry to Inisheer (the smallest of the Aran Islands) I went on a walking tour with local, Eoghan Poil. He works for aranislandswalks.com and he took me on an interesting two and a half hour walking tour of the island. He also suggested I check out the Stitches in Time exhibition at the arts centre that looks back at the distinctive traditional dress of Aran Islanders. Originally wives knitted their husbands cable-knit sweaters to protect the hardworking fishermen from the bitterly cold Atlantic but over time the style evolved so that every stitch had a meaning. For example the 'Ladder of Life' stitch symbolises the pilgrimage to happiness and the stich of 'Marriage Lines' has zigzags that represent the ups and downs of married life. The Aran Island knitted sweater or 'Guernsey' as the locals refer to it tells a story about it's wearer and it's now a sought after fashion item across the world.
I had another 'clothing moment' cycling downhill from the stunning Cliffs of Moher to Doolin on Wednesday when I spotted the secret art gallery. Curious, I entered and my nostrils were instantly filled with the unusual scent of rose petals mixed with turpentine. I met the resident artist, Marianne Slevin and she showed me her studio where she was painting a dress she found buried in the backyard by the previous owner of the house. It was a 60s style smock and through it she was interpreting the life that the woman may have lived, just from the garment she wore and the flowers in her garden.
So back to the cafe in Moycullen where I'm staring into my cappuccino, feeling completely out of place when I notice some people waving at me across the road. It turns out they're a couple I met in the surfing village of Lehinch (four days and 100km ago) who spotted my black and yellow and just had to stop and say hello. All of a sudden I went from outcast to celebrity as the yummy mummy's looked on, wondering if they should know who this crazy cycle chick was.
I think often in life we try so hard to blend in and be normal that we end up becoming invisible or unremarkable. My sister Cheryl always says everyone needs a P.O.D. (point of difference) whether it's a flower in your hair or a uniquely knitted jumper, if you dress and act like an individual, people will never forget you.
If you want to see some more photos from the past few days click here.