Stage 3 of this year’s Giro d’Italia sees the riders jump from Northern Ireland down to the Republic of Ireland with a stage starting in Armagh, the ecclesiastical Capital of Ireland, and is the seat for both the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland. And what better place to start the ride than outside the hulking St. Patrick’s Cathedral?
The three of us had talked about the stage. It looked relatively flat and, to be honest, like a standard Grand Tour transition stage. The question we were all asking was: was there going to be anything along the way that could live up to the two previous days’ riding? It’d be a tough call — we’d had a blast so far, the roads and scenery had impressed us and we all said we’d return in the future. After speaking to some locals we decided to listen to their advice and venture off the exact route the Giro would follow for stage 3.
The first 50km after leaving the impressive cathedral and memorials of Armagh was all very pleasant — nice and quiet with rolling roads through farmland with very little traffic. But contrary to the first two days, the kilometres passed by without Szymon or myself pointing out any breathtaking scenery.
It was just a good solid road to get some quality miles in. All very pleasant and relatively tranquil, apart from my rear derailleur which was making all sorts of sounds after the rear-ending it had just received.
The real problem though was the fact we’d been spoilt on the previous two days and we’d come to expect outstanding vistas straight out of the gates. And we wanted to see something special. A little bored of the main road that the Giro would follow, we turned off to the first little road we saw and immediately found what we wanted. Narrow roads in complete silence. Guided by instinct we found a short and sharp climbs and after little while we were in the midst of forests where we earned breathtaking views.
We had to laugh when we found long stretch of bras hanging on a fence, just like our friends across the globe in the Roadtripping New Zealand piece. Could this be the only two places in the world that this seemingly random tradition happens?