Over the last few years a famous section of road along the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal has been undergoing some much needed improvements. Before these improvements are finally completed, I embarked on a nostalgic ride on this famous road known locally as the “Gweebarra Bends”, named after the estuary that it runs alongside the Gweebarra bay. This section of road is on the N56 between the towns of Dungloe and Glenties. Dungloe made famous by the song Mary from Dungloe and Glenties once famous for its knitting industry and turf.
The Gweebarra bends is a stretch of road containing 32 bends over a distance of 5km, the ultimate test for your cornering skills. In my youth I would ride the road on a Honda 50, arguably not known for their handling and later moved onto a Yamaha DT125. Along with friends, I would ride from one end to the other and back on summer evenings. Last weekend I decided to ride the “bends” again. Heading off from my now home some 35km away. I took the scenic route through Glendowan pass, which runs through part of Glenveagh National park. Heading west through Doochary I pass Lough Barra, the source of the Gweebarra river which joins the Atlantic ocean at Gweebarra bay. As I ride along I can see some red deer starting to move up to the higher ground. The weather is still cold with some snow remaining on higher ground. In the village of Doochary I turn right up the corkscrew is a serious of corners ascending into the valley heading for Dungloe. The stretch of road reminds me of the time I walked home from Dungloe one night along with a friend after my DT125 failed to start. Thirteen miles walking is not easy in a pair of motorbike boots that belong to my big footed brother…BLISTERS!
Just before arriving in Dungloe I turn left on the N56 towards the “bends”. A lot of the N56 has been upgraded over the years so the surface is very bike friendly with a few nice sweeping corners. I stop at the Gweebarra Bridge to soak up the panoramic views of Gweebarra bay and the Derryveagh Mountains in the distance. On the other side of the bridge lie the “bends”, the whole purpose of this run – YES! It had been a few years since I rode this road and as there was a lot of roadworks about I rode it with caution. With the road scoped out, when I reach to the end I turn around and head back again towards the bridge. This time I can give the bike its head – CLASS!! Smiling from ear to ear I throw tow bike into every corner. Modern bikes has so much more grip than the bikes of my youth.By the way did I tell you that there is a green Statue of Liberty located about half way through the “bends” ? Only in Donegal.
At the bridge I get talking to other people who have come to embark on their own nostalgic ride on the “bends”. Time moves on and I take one last run on the “bends” towards my childhood home. My Mum and Dad still live near the Gweebarra so I call in for the tea and some scones. My dad rode a motorbike over 60 years ago when he first met my mum so I guess that is where I got my riding genes. Tea time over, I head for home – hopefully I will get a few more trips around the bends before they go for good.