After talking with Mervin last night about which way I should go, I looked at Google Maps this morning. The recommended bike route was to stay in Northern Ireland for most of the day. That's pretty much what Mervin had recommended too. My original plan was to cross into Ireland at Strabane. The Google Map route was on much quieter roads.
I thought I would have to go back up into the Sperrin Mountains that I had climbed yesterday, but it turns out I mostly skirted around them. That was okay fine by me!
Not going back up there!
I knew I had a long ride today, so I just kept the pedals turning. It was partly cloudy, and didn't look like it would rain (it did end up raining a couple of time, but wait 5 minutes, and the weather changes). There was the ever present headwind, but even that wasn't too bad.
As I was riding along, I noticed a herd of sheep all grouped into a corner. Usually, they're just all spread out throughout the pastures. Then I saw why they were all bunched up.
The dog was working the herd. I didn't see a person, so I don't quite know what the deal was.
I rode along, mostly doing rollers--up, down, up, down. The Google Map directions didn't take me into any of the small towns. That was okay, I was more interested in getting the miles done. Also, it is Sunday, and not much was open.
After about 36 miles, I came to a small grocery store that was open. I stopped and fortified myself with some ice cream and coke. A lady came up and we had a nice chat. I've really enjoyed all the friendly Irish that I've met. They are quick to strike up a conversation. Today as I was going up a huge hill out of Plumbridge, a guy was walking down the hill with his two dogs. I stopped because he started talking to me. We had a nice chat on the side of the road in the middle of the hill! Those encounters are really helpful to break up the day! It's also nice because cycling on the quieter roads often means I am out in the middle of Nowhere Ireland. The occasional car goes by, but I usually don't see another soul.
This is actually part of a National Cycle Route (#95).
So, according to my directions, I was to cross into Ireland after turning onto the road above. I had no idea if I did that as there was no sign saying so.
According to my map, this is Lough Derg, and it is in Ireland. Then when I finally came to a main road, the road signs had changed.
R roads are in Ireland. A and B roads are in Northern Ireland. Also, the town signs were in English and Irish. Annnnndddd...I was back to kilometers.
So, I'm riding along, following my directions. I turned onto R234 in the direction of Belleek (yes, the place where Belleek China is made). Then the directions got a little sketchy. But, I knew I needed to go through Belleek to get to the Caravan Park, so no biggie.
At the end of R234, the signs said A47 to Belleek. But wait--"A" roads are in Northern Ireland! I thought I was in Ireland??? Also it said 8 to Belleek. I thought, great, only 8 kilometers to go! But, no. I was back in Northern Ireland. That meant 8 miles to go. Dang! Looking closely at the map, I could see there was this place where I went into Ireland briefly, then went back into Northern Ireland. So confusing! And, Belleek is in Northern Ireland. I stopped in the town to get some more bananas and some bread because I still have Northern Ireland money. The Caravan Park was near Ballyshannon, (and another 6 miles) which is in Ireland. I still never saw a sign except this one (which I saw both times I came into Ireland).
I think it's funny because it's no different than Northern Ireland, and why in German?
Of course, the Garmin directions to the park took me on the lesser travelled road. Perhaps if I'd come on the main road, I would have seen a sign.
Anyway, I'm now back in the EU, so that means kilometers and Euros. Now I have 5 different currencies (some Danish Kroner, Northern Ireland pounds, English pounds, Euros, and US Dollars). I'll need the pounds again in England, but I'll swap the Northern Ireland pounds for English pounds when I get to Wales. By the way, I learned the difference between Great Britain, and the United Kingdom. I always thought they were interchangeable. Great Britain is only England, Wales, and Scotland. The UK includes Northern Ireland.
Total miles today: 75.7 (second longest day of the trip).