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Welcome to Northern Ireland

After the ride from Clonmacnoise to Athboy that I described in my last post, I had a comparatively short ride (about 35 miles) from Athboy to Dundalk. And from there, I spent a chunk of yesterday cycling from Dundalk to Downpatrick, which is a city with deep ties to Saint Patrick and the location in which I’ll be spending the next few days before heading into Scotland.

View from the Carlingford Ferry, which took me from Ireland to Northern Ireland.

The trip to Downpatrick, which was about 50 miles, ended up being mostly more pleasant than I had expected. The route included a windy and chilly—but also very beautiful—ferry ride (see the photo above). But there were also several hours of actual sunshine, a breeze that was mostly at my back, and a section of rode that took me between picturesque and dramatic hills on my left and the Irish Sea on my right. As you can see from the photos below, the topography is really changing from what I encountered earlier in my travels. And I just hope my legs will hold out when I start to hit some meaningful climbs.

Now, you might have noticed that I said this leg of my journey was mostly more pleasant than I had anticipated. There were two factors, however, that made the cycling a bit problematic. First, many of the roads that I was traveling on were very rough—course asphalt…lots of potholes…the kind of bumping around that makes a cyclist’s bones ache. In addition, many of the roads were quite narrow and somewhat heavily traveled. Not “major interstate“ kind of traffic. But still, not the kind of surroundings about which one can afford to be complacent. And as a result, much of the trip was somewhat stressful and not very conducive to the kind of “spiritual attentiveness“ that I would like to be cultivating as I ride.

The good news, however, is that I did make it safely to my destination. And I was able to spend most of today visiting some of the locations in Downpatrick that motivated my desire to visit here in the first place. I’ll save the stories for later. But here’s a taste of what I saw…

I’m a bit jealous of my church family members this weekend, because they’ll have the chance to hear from Tracy Radosevic, an internationally renowned Christian storyteller. I’ll be praying that the Lord will use her messages to teach everyone about God’s Story…and their own stories, too! And I will also look forward to sharing more about my travels, which will probably happen sometime after I cross into Scotland next week.

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