Riding a Bike around Ireland

bikeagainstwallThe whole pattern of my life, with occasional flurries of enthusiasm for health and exercise against the general background of ageing, slackening and fattening, betrays a slothful indulgent core, more interested in pleasure than in work, happiest when work is enjoyable.

Malachi O’Doherty’s memoir of biking himself back into shape, On My Own Two Wheels: Back in the Saddle at 60, caught my eye when I was researching another author. I enjoy memoirs; I adore Ireland; I fight a family history of diabetes; and sixty is suddenly not such an ethereal concept. It was a soft sell.

What I found was an honest depiction of how he arrived at diabetes, and what he did to change his life. O’Doherty preaches peckishness, one of my new favorite words. [It means hunger.] In short: Love peckishness and trust it to go away.

Temptation had to be treated with contempt and abruptly. When Satan, masquerading as my own thoughts, said things like, ‘One more spud is hardly going to hurt you,’ I had to cast him from me, into the fiery pit. I needed my inner voice to be a disciplinarian, a real tub-thumper, fine-tuned to condemn sugar.

O’Doherty returned to bicycling. He had cycled around Ireland in his younger days as well as a means of commute, and just fell out of the habit. His trips aid in his fitness and bring out the philosopher in him. I followed along à la Google, reveling in the beauty of Achill Island, Kylemore Abbey, the tiny village of Doolin, and Donegal Bay. After some intense trips, he settles into tootling—relaxed cycling for the joy of it. Rain or no rain.

If you let the weather stop you, you’ll do nothing.

I enjoyed the story; I like most Irish literary voices, and this one was winsome with that self-deprecating charm.

Further discoveries: First, O’Doherty has an audio blog (archived, the last entry is in 2011) called Arts Talk that has two readings by Seamus Heaney. Ahhhh. Also, O’Doherty mentions an Irish traveller, Manchán Magan. I watched four episodes of a television show with the boyish-faced Magan about his quest to consume and use only Irish products. He explores transportation, food, clothing and entertainment. Most of the dialogue is in Irish with English subtitles. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it amused me.


10 thoughts on “Riding a Bike around Ireland

  1. Your photo images rotate, yes? I clicked to see your blog and the Chicago skyline was there, in all it’s glory. I *just* was admiring my daughter’s photo of the skyline, that she snapped on a bike ride home from work in the Loop. Love that sort of overlap 🙂

    This book sounds cozy and inspiring all at once. I have said many times that I’m peckish, which is what I say when wanting to snack and sound classy at the same time. Problem is I’m pecking a bit too much. ha!

    • Yes, they do. I should probably update them. And it really bugs me that they are not all exactly the same size. Synchronization (what I call the overlap) is one of the delights of living and breathing. I suck in my breath and say (mostly to myself) “Oh! I *just* saw that!” and the joy is that the two things that are the same come from such disparate places.

      I think I need to seriously learn peckishness. My diet is, for the most part, highly nutritious, healthy food. But I don’t lose weight because I eat too much. Can one really eat too many beets?, she wonders aloud.

  2. So………as usually happens when I read your reviews :), I open another tab to PBS as soon as I see a book title and paste in the title to see availability. While that’s loading, I go back to reading your review. I’m intrigued with the story knowing that I have several one the shelves now to read about biking / driving through different places in the world (all of which may have been a result of another of your reviews!). Then, I hop over to PBS, which has loaded, and find that this book is already on my Wish List! Ha! Looks like I put it on in early August. I’m sure you must have mentioned it before! Either that or we are both drawn to the same books!

  3. I need to start riding a bike again. But I don’t have a working bicycle right now. I also need to start a “diet of small portions.” I really like that kind of diet, as opposed to “eat as much grapefruit as you want.”

  4. I read several books by I think an American author with Irish roots who with his wife rode a bike around Ireland. I was so amazed and amused by the chapter where they were trying to cross a bridge and one of them kept going around in a circle. That would be me for sure on a turn around in Ireland if I ever tried it. 😉 Small portions and good for you food is the best diet and exercise,too of course. We walked everywhere on our recent CO vacation, it was wonderful. And, my husband caught fish for us several times. The owner of our hotel said we were on the “trout diet.” Thanks for this lovely review. love and prayers, jep

  5. not being British, I associate your new vocabulary word with *irritability*…. however, I see myself being able to remember the definition because being hungry does make me feel irritable. lol

    One of my diet *tricks* is to allow anything I want to eat… but I MUST weigh, measure, count, or whatever it takes to ascertain the number of calories

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