Macra na Feirme is linking up with agribusiness, media and seasoned ultra cyclists for Wild Atlantic Way Ultra Cycle Challenge 2021 – and all for some super causes.

The event kicked off on Sunday (July 18) from Kinsale, Co. Cork and has set course for Derry City along the west coast, passing through Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal – a journey of 2,100km.

Ultra cycle challenge

The main sponsors of this year’s ultra cyclists are Agriland Media Group and Efficient Farm Systems (EFS), Mullingar.

However, Macra na Feirme is also taking an active part – literally – by joining in with the cyclists on the third day of the event.

Speaking to Agriland ahead of the cycle, Macra na Feirme national president John Keane explained exactly what the young farmer and rural youth organisation will be doing.

“On the third day, which is Tuesday, July 20, an industry day on the cycle, myself and a number of others from Macra will be joining the guys on that day to try and do as many stages as we can.

“Some other members will be joining for one or two stages. A stage, I’m informed, is about 60 or 65km and then there’s a break after that.

“From our side of things, myself and a number of others are hoping try and do the full day. Now granted our cycling experience is quite limited so we could be forgiven for being several kilometres behind everyone else at a relatively early stage in it.”

Make the Moove founders Jonathan Dwyer and Keane himself are taking part in the cycle, along with a number of other Macra members.

The theme of this year’s event is based on promoting ‘self care – physical fitness and mental well-being’.

The monies raised will go to three charities who offer confidential support to all people in need:  

  1. Mindspace Mayo;
  2. “Make the Moove” initiative by Macra na Feirme;

The charities offer confidential mental support services to young people who are struggling with isolation and mental health.

‘Ride your own Wild Atlantic Way’

Macra is also running a separate but aligned initiative among its own member base, called ‘Ride your own Wild Atlantic Way’.

This, Keane explained, aims for Macra members to collectively “cover the entire distance of the ultra cycle, which the ultra cyclists are doing over the course of that week” – approximately 2,100km.

“It will run for the month of July – so our clubs and regions can get out and cycle on their own or in groups and all of those kilometres added together accumulatively will come to the 2,100km – or their best effort, because we realise it’s a big challenge,” he said.

“Our ambition with it on a national level is to raise awareness for the cycle and to raise awareness around the themes of this year’s ultra cycle, around mental health and around positive physical health within our membership.

“There is a number of prizes and targets within the national structures for our members to encourage them,” the Macra president said.

Not the first rodeo

This is not Keane’s first experience in participating in a daunting cycling event for charity however, as he explained:

“In August 2018, myself and eight or nine other lucky – or unlucky – individuals, did a Malin to Mizen Head cycle for the Embrace FARM charity.

“We trained over a number of months for that, about four or five months, for that cycle.

“It was about an 800km cycle starting in Malin Head and finishing up in Mizen Head. It was a fantastic experience from a club point of view – my own club in Devil’s Bit Macra, Co. Tipperary – to accomplish it and from a raising funds point of view for Embrace FARM.

“It was a fantastic experience; we learned an awful lot from it. There was a great sense of camaraderie from it and a sense of accomplishment when we got to the end.

“It’s not my first cycle but I get the feeling the 300km will be a challenge for us half-seasoned cyclists,” he concluded.