FREAKING COLD – A Vietnamese’s View of Cycling in Limerick

Thao is one of our International Student’s here at the University of Limerick. Whether there’s rain, hail, snow or sun, she battles all sorts of weather on her bike to make her classes and societies on time. Read her blog to find out why you too should invest in a bike!

Hey readers,

I’m Thao, who is a big fan of outdoor sport activities, such as: hiking, cycling, kayaking and so on. In April 2019, I just completed the H2H route of 2002 km from Hanoi to Saigon. It aims to raise funds for disadvantaged Vietnamese children. So when I came to the University of Limerick, I was wondering if I would still be able to cycle. Apart from studying, I found that Ireland is an ideal place to do that! Ireland has some of the most spectacular cycling routes to suit any speed and ability.

My friends didn’t think it was a good idea to cycle here as the road goes up or down constantly. From my view, it’s easier than the monster mountains along Vietnam!

Although it takes me 15 walking minutes to get UL, I decided to buy a bicycle. Why so?

To be honest, I don’t want to miss any training in some sports activities I registered for, and cycling meant I could get there faster. I joinged rowing (which has modern facilities such as the Boat House), trekking and the environmental society. There are more than 80 Clubs and Societies in UL, I was so excited to join in 6 groups but I soon realised that the training schedule of some clubs clash, and many usually run on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Furthermore, there is a big gap between my studying time and weekly training, I’m lazy to walk back to school again whenever I’m home. Thus, I got a bicycle. It became one of my encouragements to fight cold weather.

At the beginning, I haven’t been so blessed with good weather here. Tailwinds, headwinds, cold temperature and drizzle in 4 seasons! The first cycling days were overcast and light rain. I could see the wind blows around my nose, listen to the birds singing, see leaves fall slightly in autumn. In the bus or car, I would have missed all of this and much more. I truly believe that there’s no such thing as bad weather – not even in Ireland.

To say ‘comfortable’ or ‘uncomfortable’ weather I can live with, 4 – 5 Celsius degree though might not be my best friend. I bought a second-hand bicycle in the bike shop in Limerick city after visiting 2 times. It was a versatile bike with 21 speed gear, mudguards and a suitable size frame. 

The drivers of most vehicles showed respect for cycling. However, I must wear hi-vis vest, helmet and LED light at the back. I brought all of those from my hometown. The busy roads scare me, so I always have extra lights which are easily noticeable. Sometimes, I have to stop to find next cycle lanes, but in Limerick I have found that almost everywhere, there are always bike lanes.

Why you should cycle:

  • Cheap
  • Escape traffic
  • Experience Irish life slowly
  • Get to class on time
  • GOOD EXERCISE!

TIPS to get you started:

  • Buy a second-hand bike fit for your body size
  • Come and check the bike directly
  • Only buy useful accessories, such as: mudguards and bike locks
  • Bargain to discount 10-15% if you can!
  • Online channels that are often safe: Donedeal, Limerick buy and sell.
  • Offline: Bike shop in Limerick city as they often have second-hand options for students.
  • And if you end up running into bike trouble – there is a bike mechanic that comes to the UL campus every week, so you will never be stuck.

If you’re looking for a way to explore miles of Ireland’s beautiful landscapes, breathing in fresh and crisp air; then you should definitely consider having a bike on your list. I’m delighted that I do!

I’m off now for a cycle – thanks for reading!

-Thao

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