Derry bird scientist to spread her wings with Highland cycling challenge

Lucy Quinn preparing for the 66 mile cycling challenge on the tiny Antartic island Bird Island
Lucy Quinn preparing for the 66 mile cycling challenge on the tiny Antartic island Bird Island

A Derry bird scientist is to take on a 66 miles thrilling bike ride in the Scottish Highlands after spending two and a half years on a tiny Antarctic island.

Dr Lucy Quinn, who is originally from Claudy but now lives in Inverness, is getting used to stretching her legs again after an extended stay on tiny Bird Island in Antarctica, where she studied the Albatross and other seabird species while working for the British Antarctic Survey.

The island measures just 800 metres wide and five kilometres long and Lucy shared the island with three other scientists during the winter.

The 33-years-old former Foyle College student studies to understand why Albatross populations are in decline, and why the world’s oceans are in such a poor state of health. She actually appeared in the television nature documentary, ‘Blue Planet II,’ alongside Sir David Attenborough, discussing her work studying the impact of marine plastic ingestion on seabirds.

Lucy decided to take part in ‘Etape Loch Ness’ to help her re-integrate back into normal life.

“I felt that after spending such a long time in isolation, I wanted to do something to re-integrate back into normal everyday life and to motivate myself to get back on my bike, which I really missed while I was away.

“It’s been great to get out on my bike and enjoy the countryside and having so much space around me.”

Lucy said that her job in the Antarctic was a ‘dream job’.

“I loved living amongst nature and enjoying such a simple way of living. Although at times I did feel a little bit isolated, it also felt liberating to be so far away from the stresses of everyday life. Living in that landscape and amongst the animals on the island was very calming and a real privilege.

“But I am feeling anything but calm now that Etape gets closer,” she added.

“This is the first time that I have ever taken part in a cycling event and I am now actually feeling quite nervous about it. My main aim is just to enjoy the ride – and to complete it before I get picked up by the sweeper vehicle!”

Lucy will have plenty of company on the thrilling Highland route.

A total of 5,600 will take part and her dad, Murray, will be travelling over from Derry to participate. The 71-years-old retired doctor will be among hundreds of cyclists using the event to raise money for official charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support.

More information about the event is available at www.etapelochness.com and on Facebook and Twitter.