Part-time farmer and agri-business owner, Alan Heaney, is on a two-wheeled mission this month to help raise €50,000 for worthy causes.

The co-founder and owner of Efficient Farm Solutions/Lely Center Mullingar and Efficient Farm Systems, Alan from Swinford in Co. Mayo, is the organiser and member of an ultra-cycling group whose primary goal has been to fundraise for charity.

That goal has spanned six years, has comprised six events, has taken in five countries, has covered 8,700km, and has raised €227,000 so far.

The next target is €50,000 and will take the ultra cyclists on a 1,100km spin along Ireland’s Ancient East.

The charities benefitting from this year’s cycle include:

  • Turn2Me, a national mental-health charity;
  • Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation, which funds palliative-care services in the community, and their two hospices;
  • Hooves4Hospice, which is raising vital funds towards the cost of building a planned midland regional hospice for the counties of Laois, Longford, Westmeath and Offaly.

The cyclists – who self-finance their trips 100% – will commence the fund (and pulse) -raising cycle on Wednesday, August 24, and will finish the challenging journey on Saturday, August 27.

They will roll out from Derry city, ending up at the Old Head in Kinsale, Co. Cork, taking in the coastline of Derry; Antrim; Down; Louth; Dublin; Wicklow; Wexford; Waterford; and Cork, and all the coastal towns and cities, on their journey.

Alan Heaney after a muddy mountain bike ride

“The event is fantastic,” said Alan, who spends his limited free time between business, farm, and family, cycling the roads of Mayo, Galway and Sligo, getting the long miles of preparation in.

“The big push behind the fundraising comes from our social media followers and the general public who donate to us, and the corporates who support us.

“Over the last two years, our corporates include MSD; Alltech; Glanbia; IFAC; Keenan; Lely; Lakeland Co-op; Kepak; Easifix; Zerograzer – and I’d really like to thank them for their generous support for these fantastic causes.”

Training in progress
A typical training sessions for Alan includes 75-150km spins, in the early morning and weekends, he said. And in addition, he trains two to three times a week in the early hours of the morning, running through forestry trails, across mountain ranges and bog roads to build up the stamina, physical and mental fitness, that is required to complete ultra events.

He has been joined by fellow co-owner of Efficient Farm Solutions, Niall McGauran, on many trips and both are big advocates of fundraising for local and national charities through ultra-cycling events.

Both will be joined on the Ancient East charity ultra cycle by five other fundraisers from around Ireland.

Agri-day – come join the fun
Friday, August 26, will be an ‘agri-day’ on the cycle as it is open to cyclists from across the industry – vets, co-op reps, advisors, animal health company reps, and so on. This leg of the journey starts on Sandymount strand and finishes 255km later in Duncannon beach, Co. Waterford. Anyone joining on the day is encouraged to cycle 65km – or complete the entire distance.

The charities have stated that fundraising dropped significantly during the pandemic, and that they are very grateful for the efforts of the cyclists, the supporters, the donors and everyone who gets involved.

“This is an incredible fundraiser,” said CEO of Turn2Me, Fiona O’Malley.

“At the peak of the pandemic, demand for our mental health services increased by 386%.

“As a small charity, donations from fundraisers, like this ultra cycle, are really vital and make a huge difference to the services we can offer people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, grief or relationship issues. Well done to everyone who is involved, or supports, this fantastic event – it is a huge achievement and Turn2Me is so grateful.”

Chief executive of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, Martina Jennings, added:

“We are incredibly grateful to the ultra cyclists for choosing us as one of their charities again this year. We are dependent on fundraisers like this to fund our much needed palliative care service in our community and in our Mayo and Roscommon Hospices.

“It is humbling that Alan and his team give so much of their own time to train for this event, and raise so much for charities like ourselves. We wish the whole team the very best of luck with this challenge, and our sincere gratitude to them and all who support them.”

From Hooves for Hospice, Pat Lawlor said:

“This is a great event and we are very proud to be chosen as one of the charity partners for this amazing ultra cycle. The money raised will go towards the building of a new palliative-care centre in the midlands which the counties of Laois, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly badly need. We wish the ultra cyclists the best of luck and safe passage on their cycle.”