Pedal power for hospice as cyclists hit the road

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Almost 60 cyclists are to take on a gruelling charity cycle from Mizen Head to Malin Head in aid of the Foyle Hospice next week.

The cyclists are gearing up for tough 430 mile-long challenge which will begin in earnest on Wednesday next. The testing feat is expected to end on Sunday and those taking part are hoping to raise many thousands of pounds for the Derry-based palliative care home.

And as if the trek from Malin to Mizen wasn’t long enough, ten of those taking part in the challenge have decided to add another 570 miles to the journey by cycling from Malin Head to Mizen Head via Co Down before biking to Ireland’s most northerly point.

They leave tomorrow morning and plan to complete 1,000 mile ride in just ten days without taking a rest day - quite a feat for even the most seasoned of cyclists.

Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ Ciaran McGinley, said the biennial event is becoming more and more popular. “This year there has been a surge in interest in the event with 58 now due to take part. There were a lot more people who signed up at the beginning but the dates we choose didn’t suit everyone, which is one of those things we’ve had to account for.

“This is the fifth time we’ve held the event, which takes place every two years, and we’re always very grateful to those who take part. However, we’re hoping to have special one next year to mark the City of Culture 2013” - (travelling from the former European Capital of Culture, Cork, to the City of Culture).

He added: “This year we’re hoping to raise around £30,000 and if it’s more then that will be great.”

The cyclists - both male and female - taking part in the challenge have been busy fundraising over the last six to nine months and are now raring to go in the big event.

Experienced cyclist, Terry Donnelly, who has taken part in each of the Hospice’s Mizen Head to Malin Head cycles, said cyclists of all levels are taking part in the fun challenge. “The fact that cyclists who are relatively new to cycling are taking part is great and I’m sure everyone will enjoy the experience. It’s becoming more and more popular every time - in the first event about ten people took part, then it was 35 and this year it’s around 60. It’s great to see so many people getting involved to raise money for the good cause.”

Mr McGinley paid tribute to those taking part in the challenge. “They are helping us raise the money needed to benefit our patients and their families. We need to raise £1.5m every year and so we rely on people giving their time to take part in events like the cycle.”