Saturday 10 December 2016

'It's easier than cycling up Howth Head in January' - Meet the Irish fan in flip flops following the Boys in Green on his bike

Ciaran Rowan (30) is on his own Tour de France for the Boys in Green

Cathal McMahon

Published 20/06/2016 | 11:38

Ireland fan Ciaran Rowan and his bike
Ireland fan Ciaran Rowan and his bike

An Irish fan is attempting to travel to all of Ireland's Euro 2016 games by bicycle.

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Dressed in a pair of flip flops, shorts and the all important Irish jersey Ciaran Rowan (30) does not look like your typical long-distance cyclist.

His bike has no carbon frame or technical saddle - he bought it for just €330 in Halfords.

But this Athlone native has managed to pedal almost 700km on his own personal Tour de France for the Boys in Green.

His exploits have already won him international attention with his story being covered on the official UEFA website homepage.

He told Independent.ie: "I had an idea that I wanted to travel by bike as much as possible between Ireland's Euro games. Up to a couple of weeks ago I had match tickets but that was about it.”

Ciaran set off from Dublin in early June and cycled to Rosslare where he boarded a ferry to Cherbourg.

From here he travelled down to Paris – a tough cycle made worse by the fact that he lost his phone around 50km from the capital.

Like most fans he had been using his telephone for directions and storing bookings.

"My phone had fallen out of my bag somewhere," he said. "I had everything on it– all of my accommodation bookings and all of my maps. I had no idea how to reach the city.

“I tried to navigate my way through small towns and got lost. It started pouring down with rain. It was a bit of a disaster. As John Delaney would say, a few expletives were used that day.

“I somehow made it in the end.”

After a few days partying in Montmartre with the rest of the Green Army, Ciaran hopped back on his bike and headed for Bordeaux.

He managed to make it around 250km to Tours and then took a train to the south west city in time for the Belgium clash.

He is now en route to Lille and said he intends on following the Irish team all the way.

He explained that he doesn't meet many Irish fans along the route itself.

“The French people I've met have been great, despite the language difficulties.”

Asked about the weather Ciaran said: “It hasn't been too hot which means I've been lucky. I've been caught in a couple of rain storms but it's easier than cycling up Howth Head in January.”

Ciaran is determined to follow the Irish team if they manage to qualify for the last 16.

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What direction he points his bicycle in next will be determined by how Martin O'Neill's charges fare against Italy on Wednesday.

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