And they’re off! – Two Irish cyclists begin 4500km charity cycle from Dublin to Istanbul
The iconic Dublin landmark the Spire was the starting point this afternoon for two brave Irish cyclists as they began an incredible 4,500km charity cycle through Europe.
Cian Whooley (28) and Sean Rowland (27) have set out on a 16-country trans-European journey that will see the pair cycle right through the heart of the continent and end up on the edge of Asia as part of their charity fundraiser.
Cian, a native of Ahakista in West Cork, and Sean, from Bofeenaun in Co. Mayo, first discussed the mammoth cycle a couple of years ago and after completing a Mizen to Malin exercise last year with little problems, decided to take the plunge.
Arklow will be their destination for the first night before they board the ferry from Rosslare to Cherbourg tomorrow and then embark on a nine-week journey through the heart of mainland Europe, cycling through 16 different countries including Germany, Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Greece and finally Turkey at the end of their nine week journey.
Are there any fears ahead of a daunting expedition?
"I would have some concerns when we reach Greece," Cian admits. "Nothing to do with the ongoing financial crisis, but more with regards to the the high volume of wild sheep carrying rabies."
While it will be an adventure of a lifetime, both are raising money for two very worthy causes along the way.
Bantry Hospital will receive all the proceeds Cian raises for the cycle. Located approximately 60 miles from Cork University Hospital in Cork City, it is an essential first line service for the communities of West Cork.
“I have had family and friends in need of the services of Bantry Hospital, but large budget cuts have impacted greatly on the service. The cycle will hopefully raise some badly needed funds.”
Rowland will be collecting for Special Friends Mitchelstown, a charity very close to his heart.
“My two-year-old niece, Rose, was diagnosed at birth with a rare neurodevelopmental disorder called Williams Syndrome. The condition is characterised by a number of medical issues, including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning disabilities.
“It affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide, but requires constant medical attention. The charity is hugely dependent on donations and I have seen first-hand the extraordinary impact it can have on affected families.”
The pair raised more than €2,000 before they ever got onto the saddle thanks to a well-supported pub quiz last week and are hoping their blog throughout their time away will help drive their fundraising efforts.
Camp sites will be the main accommodation of choice, though Air B&Bs and occasionally hostels will be used to break up the monotony of pitching and taking down their two-man tent.
As well as visits from family and friends at different stages, they will be joined by a third cyclist, Kieran Hanley (28) from Barna, Co. Galway. He will link up with the pair in Belgrade for the final four weeks before they arrive at their destination in Istanbul.
"The support along the way will be probably very welcome at those stages," Cian concedes. "Kieran, while possibly not physically capable of joining us for the entire trip, will be a welcome addition as we make our way through Europe."
"We have received great support so far and we will need all of that and more at different stages of the journey," Sean says.
"We can't wait to get going and hopefully we can raise as much money as possible for our respective charities."
Donations to the cycle can be made at www.rotharchallenge.com