Roe Valley men on northern charity cycle challenge

It’s no Tour de France but for five men from the Roe Valley a charity cycle next week will be just as gruelling and rewarding.

The big-hearted 40-somethings are taking part in The Great North Cycle Challenge, organized by well-known brothers, George, Jim and Gerard O’Hara of O’Hara Car Sales at Carrycue. All three brothers will be completing the cycle and have been fundraising for the Foyle Hospice for years. The Hospice celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Joining the trio next Wednesday, along with around 70 other cyclists, are John Carten, Conal Doherty, Richard Ferris, Cathal McGee and Damien Mullan, who will don their Lycra shorts and vests and hop on their bikes. The goal for them is to raise at least £2,000 (£400 each) and hopefully more. Over four consecutive days they will clock up a whopping 400 miles cycling from Derry to Enniskillen, Newry, Carrickfergus and back to Derry.

Armed with gels and all sorts of magic creams to keep them mobile and ward off any saddle pains and aches, the Roe Valley Cycling Club members can’t wait to start pedalling around the Northern Irish coastline.

“It will be tough because although we’re used to doing big miles we usually have a few days’ break. We would do 70 miles or so on a Sunday and then 40 on a Wednesday, but this will be a challenge,” said Conal, a dad-of-three who runs his own mechanic business in Glack. “I’m looking forward to it and having a safe trip with no accidents.”

Damien Mullan from Drumsurn is hoping the weather will be on their side, with light winds and no rain.

“I can’t wait to get started. I think it’s the feeling of having achieved something and doing it for charity at the same time. Plus it’s a challenge and I am always looking for something bigger to do,” said the 40 year-old dad-of-three, a shop fitting and kitchen manufacturer.

The men have completed several events for charity and, locally, take part in sportives – events organized by neighbouring cycling clubs which they participate in and where the money goes to charity.

“We’ve done a lot of those but this is different. This is four days in a row doing big miles each day. I don’t know how we’ll feel to be honest, but there is no point in doing something if it’s easy,” said John Carten, 45, a father of three, and a veterinary inspector with the Department of Agriculture.

Cathal McGee, who owns Baldie’s Barber in Limavady, took part in an around Ireland cycle event last year with Richard Ferris and loved it. He is excited about the upcoming challenge.

“We’ll have plenty of gels and creams with us,” he said, laughing.

“It’s going to be good and everyone has been supportive.”

Flat bellies unite!

Most of the group confessed they started cycling as they approached the ‘Big 40’, with most of them stating the main reason was to “get rid of the belly” and keep fit.

Now, however, with considerably flatter bellies, cycling has become part of their lives and they say this is their way of giving back to society, or as Cathal summed it up: “This is a great event and Foyle Hospice is a great organization, so this is well worth it.”

The ‘baby of the bunch’, Damien added: “We’ll go as a group and come home as a group and go as fast as the slowest man!”

Jim O’Hara said he was also looking forward to the challenge which he said would be “a bit of craic” while raising funds for a very worthwhile cause.

All men thanked everyone for their financial and moral support.