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Sunday 25 February 2018

Last man pedalling after 18,000 miles - Irishman to cross finish line as 'World Cycle Race' champion

Breifne Earley: A reliable bicycle, a good set of tools and the desire to complete the challenge all come into play when planning an epic cycle trip.
Breifne Earley: A reliable bicycle, a good set of tools and the desire to complete the challenge all come into play when planning an epic cycle trip.
Breifne Earley in Turkey
Breifne Earley: ‘On the roads in India, the right of way belongs to the vehicle which refuses to stop.’
Breifne Earley in Hungary
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An Irishman who has cycled around the world is set to pedal into London tomorrow as ‘World Cycle Race’ champion after an 18,000 mile round-trip.

Breifne Earley set off from his home in Leitrim on 22 February 2014 for a worldwide trip to help raise awareness of depression, mental health and suicide prevention.

The Irishman’s trip included countries Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Singapore and western Australia, to name but a few.

Read more: Cycle trip is a lesson in the oneness of humanity

Breifne, who used social media to extensively document his trip, was one of four men to begin the race last year, and he is the only one to complete it.

Speaking to RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Breifne said it will be an emotional day.

“I’m a big mix of emotions. I’m looking forward to crossing the finish line tomorrow, but I am a bit worried about how I’m going to deal with the emotions of it,” he said.

Read more: India's beauty is scarred by its startling poverty

Breifne Earley at Dublin Port.
Breifne Earley at Dublin Port.

Speaking about the race, he described how he became the last man cycling.

“One man got disqualified, it turns out you can’t take a taxi in a bike race. It is a huge undertaking, financially and from a time point of view, I’ve been on the road over a year now.

“Logistically, getting places to stay, visas… One of the other guys had to stop the race because of the money and visas issue, someone else had injuries,” he continued.

“I managed to overcome the money issue with a lot of help and support from a lot of people at home.”

There's only really one thing to do in a thunderstorm. #hitthehottub #fargo #northdakota #misfitcon #pedaltheplanet

A photo posted by Breifne Earley (@breifneearley) on

Read more: My broken bike helped to heal my broken body

Breifne suffered from depression and almost took his own life five years ago. Determined to turn his life around, he set himself 10 small challenges, one of which was to cycle 50km a week.

Breifne Earley in Hungary
Breifne Earley in Hungary

A couple of years later, he found himself on the trip of a lifetime.

“There was a personal reason for me to do this race. I almost took my own life five years ago,” he said.

“I was overweight, I hadn’t exercised in ten years, I was unhappy in both my personal and professional life. I decided to turn my life around.

“I decided not to take my own life and I gave myself 10 small challenges. One was to cycle 50km every week.

“I felt good, everytime I was on the bike I would feel amazing,” he continued.

Breifne is cycling the planet for Cycle Against Suicide
Breifne is cycling the planet for Cycle Against Suicide

Read more: Breifne Earley: Essential equipment to pedal the planet

“I looked for a bigger challenge and I Googled ‘long cycle races’. The World Cycle Race came up and I entered it, four of us started and I’m the only one left.

“I keep in touch with everyone from home through social media. I’ve had immense support from day one, but particularly over the last few months when things got difficult.

“Next Friday and Saturday, I’ll cycle home from Dublin to Leitrim, stopping in Mullingar.

“Some of my close friends and family will meet me in Greenwich tomorrow, but the real party will kick off next Saturday at home.”

Read more: Breifne Earley: Fate's way of telling me it was time for a break

The World Cycle Race involves riders cycling 18,000 miles ‘around Planet Earth’ in an easterly or westerly direction without going back on themselves and passing through two antipodal points, or points opposite each other, en route.

It is a single stage race and the clock runs continuously until all the riders have lapped the planet and reached the finish line at their point of departure.

You can follow Breifne's journey here

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