Dublin cycle shops
There is a good selection of shops within the city centre and more in the suburbs. The best northside shop is Cycleways on Parnell Street - they cater for road bikes as well as MTBs. This shop is owned by the legendary Phil Cassidy, recently-turned vet eran (that is, over 40 years of age)and recent winner of the FBD Ras. Even more central is Cyclogical on Bachelor's Walk, only a ston'es throw from O'Connell Bridge on the north side. Some argue that their service is better than Cycleways; they have been there for many years and have a solid clientele. You will get excellent service on the southside from McDonald's of Wexford Street who have a good selection of parts too. Joe Daly's is well worth the cycle to Dundrum, south Dublin and is run by David Tansey, following the retirement and passing of his much-missed father Joe Tansey (the man everyone called Joe Daly). Tallaght has Cycle Superstore with a wide range of bikes and accessories; currently near the Square in Tallaght but soon moving to new premises. There is also a very good cycling shop in Rathgar, run by the son of Mr McDonald. While they mainly cater for the mountain bike, they also offer a repair service.
An exciting new south city cycle shop is Beecycles, 380 South Circular Road, Dolphin's Barn, Dublin 8. Their speciality is repairing older bikes, and sourcing spare parts for bikes more than twenty years old. Many cycle shops will try to persuade you to dump such a machine, but Dara at Beecycles will do his best to provide you with cost-effective repairs. Opening hours are 8am-7pm Monday to Friday and 10am-6pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday - the idea of the long hours during the week is to try to cater for commuters outside of their work hours as we know it can be hard to get to a shop during normal work hours. Their phone number is 086 8895487.
Interested in cycling - join a club!
AS with anything, the best people to ask for advice are enthusiasts. Likewise, if you want to know the best routes, cycle shops in your area, equipment available, then join a club. for those of you living in the south Dublin area there are some great clubs, including the evergreen St. Tiernan's Cycling Club and Orwell Wheelers. They welcome visitors to join them for a test spin - they're both road clubs and aimed at those who own road bikes (ie., not mountain or off-road bikes). You don't have to go too fast since they will try to accommodate you and they're a great bunch of people. St. Tiernan's meet on a Saturday morning for the regular club spin and there is a wealth of information on their information page on spins, members and racing, should you feel so inclined. Orwell Wheeler's club run is from Joe Dalys, Dundrum on Sundays at 09.30am and is a club for cycling enthusiasts in south County Dublin. They have a graded programme to assist those new to cycling, or returning after some years.
Cycling to the city centre from the airport
Dublin airport is not an easy place to exit on arrival, simply because there is so much traffic. When you leave the arrivals building, your best bet is to walk the bike on the path against the flow of traffic (ie, turn right on leaving the building) and having crossed the ramp going up to the departure building and crossed a roundabout, you will then see a cycle path on the footpath. This is signposted to the City centre but there are not too many seperate cycle tracks, so be cautious of the traffic. The recently opened Dublin Port tunnel means an end to the endless restrictions on traffic. Needless to say, the tunnel is not open to cycles! However, it has helped to slightly ease the congestion caused by articulated lorries. Irish drivers (and cyclists too) can sometimes have a very casual/liberal attitude towards red traffic lights - count to two after you get a green light!
I cannot emphasise how dangerous it can be to cycle in Dublin's city centre. Heavy traffic, along with the movement of articulated lorries from Dublin port, can make Dublin junctions particularly lethal. (although they are now banned since 19 February 2007), having to use the recently-opened Dublin port Tunnel). Two cyclists were killed in summer 2001 by artics and basically at the same junction. It is best to keep away from their kerbside - you are a very small dot in their mirrors when they are turning (particularly left or nearside). Similarily, some bus drivers can be impatient with bikes when both are using bus lanes but cycles have every right to use them. I tend to think that tourists, carrying obvious panniers and equipment, get more sympathy and due care and attention from drivers. There is definitely an element of jealousy from certain drivers towards cyclists - they are annoyed that you can get through the congestion while they are unable to move. Even more annoying to them is the fact that you don't pay car or road tax...hello - we're not in cars polluting the place and congesting the town!
At present, all cycle lanes and paths in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are advisory. That is, you are advised but not legally obliged to use them (in contrast to, for example, Belgium, where the police fine you if you don't use them). Early cycleway designs were poor but as the network has grown, the designs have improved. You might also remember that some cycle paths/lanes are part-time, ie., they operate during peak hours (typically 0700-1000 and 1600-1830) but do not function after that. There are signs indicating the use of these lanes, so don't explode if you see vehicles parked on them outside peak hours.
Lots more to come... recommended routes, cycle manners, bike hire