It was Cork...but not as I knew it! Pink lighting along Oliver Plunkett Street and down the center of Patrick Street were the only disturbing changes. Everything else is...is Cork, boy!
Hillbillies on the Grand Parade still makes the best chicken fillet burgers in the country (if not world!), Zanzibar on Cook street is still funky with great food and Lancaster Lodge still fulfills all the needs of the traveling biker (relatively secure parking and central location).
Which brings me nicely onto the matter of Karma (my Kawasaki ER-6F) in 'tourer' mode. Well, she handled the whole trip up and down with no problems. Easy overtakes when needed and effortless cruising at legal-ish speeds. Loaded with a 3 case pannier system (see my Flickr page) and enough gear to ensure fresh 'civvies' for each day and night out. In fact, the top case just had the hand muffs and cover in it. I noted that at approx 120-140kph she would hover just above 6,000rpm. I adjusted the rear suspension from my normal of 4 with the cases commuting (factory set at 3 for just rider) to 5 since I had more weight then normal. It seemed to do the job and have no complaints. I filled up going down then again coming back up, so €14 each way.
The only changes I would make for similar/longer trips is maybe getting Kawasaki's higher screen option so you do not need to get down so low for the windy bits. Other then that, i would not hesitate to consider her a great (if not best) budget all-rounder. She gets hustled through Dublin traffic all week then gets to head down to the other end of the country for the weekend without missing a beat. While still getting flattering comments every time I park up.
I took note of the amount of fellow bikers out there on the roads and the various machines that were being ridden. In fact, I did not pass the same machine twice! Though I must comment on one worrying trend, the BMW's rider's inability to acknowledge a fellow biker. I realise they have much to do in their cockpit's and I am surprised that BMW does not offer a button to perform some sort of automated response. While everyone else seemed eager to make some kind of gesture! Anyway, maybe this was an exception, rather then the rule.
Oh yeah, there was the little matter of a Model United Nations simulation in UCC. I was part of the team representing the 'Kingdom of Belgium', and the topic was 'the role of PMC's in conflict zones'. I know, if you are into that sort of thing it was very interesting. This was my first MUN simulation so spent most of my time trying to figure out how to raise an issue. It was done over 1 day and was a great introduction by some very impressive UCC MUN members ('thank you' goes out to them). I probably could have done with a week there to get my head around the etiquette, but with my slight aversion to social settings public speaking will always be a hurdle, but I am doing this for the experience and insight more so then any future career path.
All in all a great few days away. Digging up old memories, visiting old haunts and generally feeling...well, much older!
Keep the rubber side down.