Thursday 30 October 2014

Just 18,000 miles between me and a tour de force

Breifne Earley with his Pedal the Planet support team of Louise Loughlin and Sara Rothwell. Photo: El Keegan

As you're reading this I'm somewhere in central Europe, all things going well I'm most likely in south Germany or north Austria. Due to the nature of publishing deadlines, I'm actually sitting in a hotel room in the Crown Cricklewood Hotel in north-west London preparing to start the race in less than two days.

I've visualised almost every step of the route over the past number of months and, although I'm fully aware that covering 18,000 miles will be a phenomenally tough task, I'm extremely excited about what the next four months has in store for me.

The logistics and supports have been finalised as much as is possible, the bike and gear has been tested and everything is ready to take me on this epic adventure. All that is required now is the bit that I've been looking forward to for months. Getting out on the bike and pedalling.

The one aspect of the trip I hadn't really had a chance to visualise was the send-off weekend. I organised a series of parties in my dual homes of Leitrim and Dublin, with a two-day cycle between them.

In my head I envisioned they would be small affairs that would allow me to thank the people who have supported me – my friends, neighbours and most importantly my family. What I didn't expect was to have people driving across the country to join me on either of the nights or for elements of the cycle. So many people went above and beyond the call of duty and it was greatly appreciated

The outpouring of support and genuine interest in the challenge that I'm undertaking was overwhelming. The members of the local cycling and triathlon clubs and social groups from Leitrim, north Roscommon, Westmeath and the Cycle Against Suicide crew, who turned up in huge numbers particularly in Leitrim village for the start and in Maynooth for the final leg, offered tremendous support to me as I head off into the unknown.

From a financial point of view, obviously times are tough for a lot of people at the moment, and for Pedal The Planet there are also certain costs which must be met.

The total cost of the project is budgeted at €54,000. This includes the costs of myself on the bike and the support team of two people who will accompany me on the journey.

I have personally covered the cost of my participation in the event (in the region of €14,000) and funds raised will, in the first instance, go to cover the support team's expected €40,000 bill.

Neither myself nor the support team will be paid for our work over the next four months. Any money raised over and above the amount required will be passed on to our partners in Cycle Against Suicide.

With the help of some commercial support, friends and family and a very successful crowd-funding campaign run through Indiegogo, we have managed to raise the majority of the funding required, but there is some more help needed.

If you wish to help us reach our target you can purchase a jersey, sponsor some miles or just make a donation through our website.

The support team are vitally important to the project in terms of getting our message of "It's ok not to feel ok" out to the general public.

They help produce the campaign videos and ensure my entire focus is on producing a quality performance on the bike each day.

Louise Loughlin, also a native of Co Leitrim, is an old friend and training buddy who was with me the first time I cycled from Dublin to Leitrim. Her undoubted skill as a massage therapist, nutritionist, fitness instructor and as an amateur bike mechanic means she is the perfect fit for the team.

I know the two girls are going to be a credit to this campaign and, from a personal point of view, I must thank them for committing to the project with no financial reward in store.

I know both they and I will have a life-altering experience over the next four months or so. Here's hoping our collective efforts will also have a life-altering or life-saving effect on others too.

Irish Independent

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