Mayo man to travel from Lourdes to Knock…on a bicycle

A man from a farming background in Swinford, Co. Mayo, is set to lead a group of four endurance cyclists on a ‘mammoth’ 2,000km journey across three countries.

On Tuesday, June 18, Lely Center Mullingar’s co-owner/founder Alan Heaney and his teammates will embark on this ultra cycling challenge.

Starting from Lourdes in the south of France, the journey will then go right up through France and across the English channel by ferry.

The purpose of the mission is to raise money for two charities: Down Syndrome West; and raising awareness of mental health – anxiety and depression in farming.

Lely Centre Mullingar is the main sponsor of the event and AgriLand is the co-sponsor.

The cyclists – including teammates Johnathon Verry, Garry Bigley and Maurice Dore – will then cross England and Wales, heading for the Irish sea where they will then cross by ferry and then head west to Knock in Co. Mayo.

Heaney and his team will be arriving in Dublin Port on Saturday, June 22, at 5:30am.

On the final leg of the journey – from Dublin to Mayo – cycling enthusiasts from the agricultural industry will join the team at different stages for a time also.

To make the task at hand even more challenging, the team aim to carry out their mission – from start to finish – in just five days.

Speaking to AgriLand, Heaney said: “This is an extremely tough mental and physical challenge and along with cycling up to 400km per day, we will be roughing it at night and sleeping in small tents on the side of the road.

“Any contribution in any little way will be very greatly welcomed and appreciated.”

About the cause

Down Syndrome West is based in Swinford, Co. Mayo, and the intention is to make the house fully accessible with a playground and use it as the west of Ireland’s focal point for the community, according to Heaney.

The cyclists also hope to raise awareness on mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in farming families.

Heaney said: “We all know of the isolation, weather stresses, financial pressures that occur on many Irish farms and some really struggle with mental health and well-being.

“Last year’s sunny weather which may have been a Godsend for most people actually placed financial, physical and emotional strain on many small to medium sized farms.

Unfortunately, this in fact resulted in many farmers struggling with their mental health and some taking their lives.

The event is self-financed so 100% of all donations will go directly to the charities.

“We have set up an online fundraising page, so please spread the word and share the event on social media channels,” he concluded.

Anyone interested in donating can use the link available here.

Members of the public can follow the team’s progress via a live link on the Facebook page.

Otherwise, the bank account details are available here: IBAN: IE16 BOFI 9054 8328 9629 06; and BIC: BOFIIE2D.