This thread runs in conjunction with my 'Mussolini's Travels' Thread. This adventure took place two years prior to that thread. ---- Introduction I enjoy riding my bicycle and Bike Touring has always been something I've wanted to do ever since I rode from London to Rome in the summer of 2003 - the summer I graduated from High School. It was my parents graduation gift to me - "Here, Musso, we're shipping you off to Europe for a month and you've got to ride your bike carrying all your gear (tent, clothes, food, kitchen items) while you do so. You've also got to get to Rome from London." - Luckily, I was with a group of 12 similarly aged people with two college aged leaders. Some of you Europeans may well remember the Summer of 2003. It was one of the hottest on record in Europe and we greatly benefited from this heat wave. During the course of the month, we only had 1 day of drizzle (in England no less, our first day of riding) while the majority of the rest of the trip was 80 - 90'F and sunny. Apart from the first 3 nights in England, I slept every night directly under the stars in my sleeping bag. Weather like this certainly makes a trip more enjoyable (nobody likes it when it rains) and I only had 1 bad day of riding (when a strap was rubbing against my tire, acting like a brake for half the day, which made it quite a tiring day for me). I never had any mental low points at any time, but unlike half the kids on the trip, I had actually done training before hand and while training had hit the wall one day and knew what to expect. I was also very active at the stage of my life, playing year-round soccer out of school, soccer in the fall in school, indoor soccer with the school during the winter, and long distance track in the spring for school - so I had the mental toughness of spending long, solitary hours exerting myself. Since then, my fitness has gone downhill, especially my junior year of college where I severely damaged my ankle playing indoor soccer - I rolled it badly, tearing a tendon and pretty much every ligament you could possibly tear in it. It took nearly 8-days before the swelling had gone down enough to take an MRI and it took 3 weeks before I could even put weight on my foot. When I got back into cycling after 'recovering', I formed a sciatica in my lower back and I could barely turn my pedal over due to the lack of flexibility in my ankle. Since then, I have constantly dealt with it and my calf muscle on that leg is constantly tight - to this day, that ankle has about half the flexibility of my good foot. So I am not nearly as active as I was in HS and have put on a few extra pounds since then as well. I spent the summer of 2011 taking care of my father for 6 months before he passed away. I was made a Supervisor at my job immediately after and spent 2 years being a Supervisor before my position became redundant as the company become more corporate and I suddenly knew I had the month of May, 2013 free to myself. I decided to go to Ireland for the Month, where my Aunt lives, and do a bicycle tour along the West coast before taking part in the 'Tour de Conamara' - a 50 mile ride in Clifden at the end of the month before heading home and to my new job. The problem with living in a Mountain Town is that its usually to cold and snowy to start riding your bike until the end of May, so I had very little chance to properly train for my trip. In retrospect, I would have done several things differently, but its debatable whether they would have affected my trip as my problems were mostly weather related, and when you have the weather I had in Ireland, it also affects you mentally. Two years later, when I went to Wales and started to experience the same sort of weather you will hear about here, I almost called it quits....thats how bad the weather in Ireland was for me!