Thursday 24 May 2018

Irish man just two months off breaking record to become oldest man to cycle around the world

Dubliner Dermot Higgins (55) is just weeks away from completing his epic cycle around the world

Dermot Higgins
Dermot Higgins
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Retired primary school teacher Dermot Higgins from Rush is coming towards the end of his epic bid to become the oldest man to cycle around the world.

Dermot, from Rush in north County Dublin, is currently pedalling his way across the vast expanse of the United States, from the west coast to the east.

He has less than two months left on the road and while personally, the epic journey has been a personal triumph, one aspect of his challenge is not going as well as he hoped.

He explained: "Okay, so Gogodermo is nearly over! On April 1, I hope to return to Dublin, having achieved my objective of becoming the oldest person to cycle around the world. I'd also hoped to raise significant funds for Irish aid agency, Trocaire.

"Alas the sum I've raised to date, along with my Last Legger friends stands at a paltry €3,000 and that's less than 10 cent for every kilometre I'll have cycled. Thank you so much everyone who has made an online donation already, but collectively, we can do much better than this."

Dermot's epic cycle has been dubbed 'GogoDermo' and now he has issued the 'GogoDermo Challenge'.

The 55-year-old adventurer explained: "Between now and April 1 - that's Easter Sunday, this year, all you have to do is take on a challenge.

"Make it something that's really a challenge - not something that's too easy.

"It could involve doing without something you enjoy, doing some exercise or chores which you don't normally do and either paying yourself for the privilege or getting somebody to sponsor you as a reward."

Dermot added: "There's no limit to the possibilities, you can continue the challenge for a single day or for the next 40 and no donation is too small.

"You can choose whether or not to let us know what you've doing for the Gogodermo Challenge and when you're finished you can make the donation to my Justgiving Page anonymously or otherwise.

"Can we set the target high at €30,000 instead of the present €3000? In the words of the greatest president this great country has ever seen: 'Yes we can!'

"All the funds raised go directly to Trocaire and there's no money in this for me."

Dermot began the American leg of his epic journey at the end of January.

He landed in the land of the free and the home of the brave with a fair deal of trepidation though.

He explained as he began the trip: "This will be my first visit to the USA and it has to be said that I've chosen a long and winding road to reach the so called 'land of the free and home of the brave'.

"It must also be said at this juncture, that this is the part of the trip which I was least looking forward to at the planning phase of Gogodermo. I considered the current political situation to be unnerving, I'm scared of people with guns and I've been advised that this is the least 'cycle friendly' country in the world.

"Of course, I may have been misled, or have I watched too many Hollywood gangster movies? Maybe I'll find that people will support me and keep me safe despite our differences in opinion.

"After all, I didn't expect much from the Antipodes and looking back now, as I fly over the Pacific Ocean, having left Auckland a few hours ago, it seems that I'm now rating Australia and New Zealand as the favourite leg of Gogodermo."

But just a few days later, as Dermot reached Arizona, his view of America had changed completely.

He said: "The US of A. is an absolutely incredible country. I love it! And today has been by my best day so far, in the USA.

"I'm sitting in a Mexican bar , with a handful of amigos, in the small town of Buckeye just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, while the rest of America is glued to the Super Bowl. Could it be more quintessentially American than this?

"If someone had paid me a billion dollars to say that my experience in America was going to be one of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of the Gogodermo experience, I'd have told them that they were liars and fools. 'But it's true! It's not called 'The Land of the Free' for nothing!

"You can more or less say what you want, think what you want and run the 100m in less than 10 seconds without having a rifle aimed at you or without having the long arm of the law on your case. I love everything about America! It"s big, it's free and it's just wonderful!"

While Dermot has been out travelling across the world on hi 40,000km adventure, he has had lots of time to contemplate what he will do with the rest of his retirement, once he gets back home to Fingal, Dublin.

Well the Rush man's future now seems to be set and Dermot now intends to open up a cafe and grocery shop with a difference in Skerries, this summer.

He said: "The 'Gogodermo, Around the World Cafe and Grocery Shop' will open in Skerries this summer!'

Explaining the concept of this environmentally friendly and healthy business, he said: "If you're a green shopper, then you'll support Ireland's first 100% No Waste Cafe and Grocery Shop which will open in Skerries this summer."

The challenge of a lifetime began last July for Dermot as the retiring teacher left his classroom at Rush Lusk Educate Together National School and quite literally got on his bike to pedal the first few metres of a potentially record-breaking 40,000km cycle around the world.

There was a huge send off for the retiring teacher at the school as headed off on the greatest adventure of his life after closing the book on a long career in teaching.

Inspired by childhood tales of Phileas Fogg and his around the world trip, Dermot, has been spending the first few months of his retirement from teaching at Rush Lusk Educate Together NS, completing his own circumnavigation of the globe by pedalling all 40,000km of the trip on his bicycle.

Fingal Independent

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