Forty-something degrees with 20mph winds…a perfect day to be outside? Yet we decided to go biking anyways, because what could be more Irish than that? If you wait for perfect weather, you could find yourself waiting a while. On this particular Sunday in April, a group of us Dubliners decided to brave the winds for some cycling in Phoenix Park, the sprawling park just west of city center. And it wasn’t raining, so we couldn’t complain. Being such a small island, the weather here is often mysterious and I find myself just looking out the window rather than checking the weather app as I usually did back home.
To get myself to the park, I’d have to face my fears and navigate my way through the winding, often congested streets of downtown Dublin (just known as “town” if you’re Irish). Since it was a Sunday, it was strange biking up the somewhat empty streets of Dublin, effortlessly steering my bike through the same spot where the bus I normally take into town can only make its turn by slowly inching its way into traffic, a double-decker reaching the point of no return and others obliging to finally let it through. There was one gust of wind that almost knocked me off my bike, but I steadied myself and continued, even removing my gloves as I warmed up throughout my ride.
Once safely in the park, I met the others and we biked through the 1,750 acres worth of green space. We saw the famous Phoenix Park deer, which are huge, numerous, and apparently quite docile. We continued our tour to the home of Ireland’s president, Michael D. Higgins, a man with a small stature but a huge presence in Ireland, much beloved by any Irish person I’ve met. We also stopped for a photo with the American ambassador’s residence, which looked like an Irish version of the White House, massive and with huge windows to let every possible ounce of sunlight in. The home’s grandeur and prime location in Phoenix Park was a striking visual of US-Ireland relations and our nation’s looming influence in Ireland.
Back at UCD, I was locking up my bike when I noticed the most beautiful tree with pink flowers in bloom, petals protruding from every branch and blanketing the ground. I had been feeling sad to miss peak cherry blossom bloom back in DC, but standing under this tree, I didn’t feel so far away. I was exhausted, my legs heavy, but feeling grateful for this display of spring and reminder of home on an otherwise gray day.
I guess it feels fitting for my first and last blog posts to be about biking, bringing it full circle. While this is likely giving a false impression that I biked way more than I did here, I had to provide some proof that I biked to more places than just the UCD gym!