Arriving into Larne on the ferry, the sun was setting and I needed to find a place to sleep for the night. After looking around, I found the one hostel in town and pulled in just as it was getting dark around 10pm. I had found a place to sleep tonight and ended up having the whole hostel to myself. Very rare!
In the morning after a good breakfast, I hopped on the bike and followed the coast to Belfast. During my stay in Durban, SA I had made a contact here, Hazel, who worked with disability kids doing gymnastics. I was supposed to meet up with her at the gym and learn about the program. It was a blast being back in the gym helping kids.
Since I was in Belfast a little over a week, I decided it would be good to give back a little and spend some time helping out in the gymnastics world. The two Wednesday’s I was in town, were spent with Hazel learning as well as helping the various different kids that she worked with. This was awesome and I really enjoyed it, not to mention I was able to learn so much about a world I had never dealt with before. Dealing with kids that had all different disabilities ranging from Autism to Down’s syndrome to blindness just to mention a few, was a blast.
The rest of my days I spent commuting from Belfast to Lisburn which was about and hour ride each way to help out with both recreational and competitive gymnasts. The staff at Salto were very welcoming and friendly. It was nice to be in a place that felt familiar and like home again. During my week there, I was able to learn about their program and how the gym was run and even had some time to make a few good friends.
Since I had decided to spend the week in Belfast and wanted to get out of the hostel, I put out a few messages and Sam decided to host me from Saturday to Tuesday morning. He was a great guy and a bikepacker as well. Sunday morning we had a good leg busting ride up Divis Hill to look out over Belfast and then headed back to meet up with some of his friends for a fun game of Ultimate Frisbee. That night we headed to his friend Rob’s house, who was making dinner and ate a yummy meal followed by a game of poker. This day had been great and I really enjoyed all the activities. Thanks again Sam!
Leaving Sam’s house, George offered to host me the rest of the nights I was in Belfast. We got along great and he ended up hooking me up with an awesome bike shop in Belfast, Fellow Bicycles. The guys there were fantastic and a blast to hang out with. Andrew runs an amazing shop in town geared towards building custom fixie bicycles from old competition frames. George and I had a good time together and he invited me to a pub one of the nights for a friend’s birthday. Thanks George for such a good time and connecting me with a wonderful cycling community in Belfast!
The people that I met and the experiences I had, definitely helped make my time in Belfast a blast. Hanging out with Conor and Pearce to watch the boxing match Saturday night to meeting Sam and George and Andrew, what a good group of people. I couldn’t have enjoyed Northern Ireland any more. On top of all of this, being able to coach as well as help and learn about an amazing disabilities program was fantastic.