What a great day! It started with a huge breakfast of sausages, eggs, ham, black puddings, fried tomatoes, cereal, more toast than you could imagine, juice and coffee. Wow! Racey Byrnes B&B really set the bar high for the rest of the trip. It was about 9:40 Am by the time we rolled out to Carlow.
The route took us down a fairly major route however there was a huge bike lane and almost no cars. The pavement was perfect and it was a bright sun morning with a tail wind helping us along. It just doesn’t get any better.
At about the 45 km mark we stopped to take some pictures by this old stone church. The guide who was at the church was not going to have us take a few quick shots and roll on. It was his job to make sure we got the tour and he was going to show off his bit of history. The quick stop turned into close to an hour but the guide was absolutely fabulous. He showed us stones from 3rd to 6th century. Stone sarcophagi with Tempar Knights on them. Like this is stuff right out of Sword in the Stone movie stuff. The cathedral had originally been built around 1050 , then enlarged around 1150 and then again in 1225 when it was dedicated to St Mary. The guide talked about the history of the region and how this place was the cultural and spiritual center of the region and how Oliver Cromwell had invaded and sacked the cathedral. Absolutely fascinating. It was called Saint Mary’s Church in Gowran. http://irishantiquities.bravehost.com/kilkenny/gowran/gowranchurch.html
After lunch we rolled down to Thomastown where we picked up some things for our lunch be as the big climb of the day was just ahead we decided to eat at the summit.
The climb was really tough it was about 6 kms of 5-8% and then 2 kms of 13-15% before it leveled off to 3 kms of 5%. I was following Ken and was thinking if he walks then I will walk. He has a triple chain ring on the front and a 32 on the rear. I have a double on the front and a 27 on the rear. He made it about 250 meters into the steep section before he walked. Thank God he did as I couldn’t have made it very much further. We got back on the bikes and rode the last 3 kms to the summit where we ate lunch.
After lunch it was all down hill and we had only 31 kms to go. There were some really neat roads on the way into town. One section was little more than a wagon track but both tracks were sealed. Well sort of. More kind of lumps of asphalt pilled somewhat together.
I was all in by the time we got town. However what a beautiful day. Not a drop of rain. Unbelievably quiet roads with almost zero cars and the most beautiful scenery of lush green rolling hills and fields.