No bridge too far as 16,000km cycle ends in Sydney
THEY spent almost eight months cycling more than 16,000km across the world, so friends Aidan Murphy and Paul Quinn can be forgiven for deciding to fly home.
Both men set off last September on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to raise funds for charity. Now, they have reached their final destination – Sydney, Australia.
"We're heading home next month but we're definitely not cycling back," a jubilant Aidan told the Irish Independent yesterday.
The two men, who are both 26, made the trip to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society and the Alzheimer's Society.
It took them all the way from Dublin to Sydney through 18 countries across Europe, Asia and Australia.
"When we got to Sydney and saw the Opera House and cycled across the bridge, it felt real then," Aidan said.
"A lot of our friends came to meet us, it was a great feeling. We went to Bondi Junction to celebrate, to an Irish pub called the Cock and Bull."
The trip was punctuated by highs and lows, including the aches and pains of cycling huge distances, dealing with extreme cold and camping outdoors.
Aidan described one moment when they were in Iran, camping in an old building and confronted during the night by 10 Iranian soldiers.
"Nobody had seen us except for maybe one shepherd. At around 9.30pm we heard a commotion outside. We slowly unzipped the tent and there were soldiers.
"They shouted at us: 'Terrorists'. We told them: 'No, we're from Ireland, we're from Ireland, we come in peace', and pointed at the bikes," he said.
The soldiers eventually started laughing and Aidan said it was a good example of the friendliness of the Iranians they met.
"India is beautiful and we also loved Southeast Asia, like Vietnam and Cambodia – the people were so kind they wanted to give you what they had, even if they had nothing," he said.
The pair had personal reasons for wanting to raise money for charity.
Aidan lost his mother to breast cancer when he was just five, and Paul's grandmother, who he cares for, suffers from Alzheimer's.
They each paid the estimated €10,000 for the trip out of their own pockets and raised €30,500 in donations. The money will be split evenly between the two charities.
Donations are still being accepted on the website: mycharity.ie/event/cycle-to-oz.