Setting off from Staffordshire, I crossed into Wales about 40 km later and was 100 metres into the last country of the trip, trying to pronounce the new language appearing on road signs in my head when I had one of the closest calls on the trip to-date. A young woman who was stopped at a side-road junction that joined the main road I was riding along, suddenly decided it was time to cross, completely oblivious to my high visibility presence which was blocking her view of the road behind me. Missing my front wheel by inches, I skidded to a stop and yelled in disbelief at the fast disappearing car whilst a fellow cyclist passing by came over to see what the fuss was about.
My last night before reaching Ireland I spent with a lovely Irish family, Mary and Dermot, who had settled in the north Welsh hills nearly 30 years ago. With retirement approaching they had undertaken some long bicycle trips (including the Trans-America trail last year) and Mary and her friend Helen were setting off from Istanbul in a couple of months time and following the Danube back to western Europe. The following morning the dire weather conditions could be heard battering the house outside and I set off with the hail stripping my left cheek as the southwesterly storm blasted across the Snowdonia national park. On a lighter bike I might have struggled to beat the crosswind all the way to Holyhead but with 50 kg of bicycle and gear beneath me, Rocinante weighed us down like and anchor and only occasionally veered off when gusts hit over 100 kph.
The evening ferry ride to Dublin was one of the roughest I've experienced, with bottles flying off the shop shelves whilst many of the youngest passengers filled up sick bags. I arrived into a somewhat calmer Dublin port at 10:30 p.m. and made my over to Dun Laoghaire where I had been very kindly put up by Roland and Annette, old family friends and perhaps my most doggedly determined readers of this blog.
Leaving the ice time to melt the following morning, I headed off around midday and climbed up around the Sugar Loaf hill and headed south towards Roundwood. The browns and blacks of a snow-capped Djouce mountain gazed down from the west. Saturday hill walkers gathered in the Roundwood pubs as I passed through the village and onto the last home stretch, helped along by a tailwind as I turned east. In the winter twilight, after almost 2000 days since riding away in July 2008 and having navigated our way through 63 countries, I returned with Rocinante up our driveway and rang the door bell.
Thank you to all those who have helped make this journey possible, family and friends and all the wonderful people we've met along the road. Big thank you also to my ever determined cycling partner and wonderful friend, Ellie, as we forged our relationship on the high mountains, long deserts and everything in between over the past three years. And, of course, thanks to all those who have donated to the Peter McVerry Trust and if anyone wishes to make a donation they can do so via at my fundraising webpage on the MyCharity website.
Pedalled: 84,780 km