Friday 15 December 2017

'It's all right not to feel okay' reminds us of our mission

Cycle Race
Cycle Race

Breifne Earley

Last week I faced my first real test of my World Cycle Race preparations to date. Ten weeks ago I took a VO2 Max test. Now I faced a new prospect, a repeat exam with previous results as a reference and the expectation of significant progress sought by my entire support team.

The VO2 Max test is one of the top indicators of fitness and endurance. It involves securing a mask over your mouth which is connected to a machine which processes your breathing. It records the quantity of oxygen exhaled during a graded exercise test.

I found last weeks' test better than the initial one but, all told, I felt I hadn't made as much progress as I had hoped.

Sitting with my strength and conditioning coaches afterwards, we mapped out the next few weeks of training with a renewed vigour. The mood was positive, although the warnings of the work, application and focus that would be required over the coming six weeks were still ringing in the air.

There are no fewer than 16 people directly involved in my campaign, from my coaches at NADA, travelling and non-travelling support crew and my official partners in the shape of Spin11, Aertv and Health Matters. I'm certain I've assembled the complete team which gives us the best chance of getting this record.

While being physically able to complete the gruelling schedule of 300k cycles is one thing, there is also so much work that goes on behind the scenes, not least of all, the finances required to keep the show on the road.

The full cost of the project is a little less than €55,000, which covers all aspects, from the bike and equipment, through to the support team and vehicle, and flights and ferries to get us through 25 countries.

Thankfully, more than half of the funds have already been raised. About 150 people have invested in the project. To get involved, visit

It is important to remember that while the project is focused on cycling, it is just a vehicle to raise awareness of one of the largest killers of young people in this country. Suicide is the elephant in the room in so many communities across this country. The number of deaths through suicide is more than double that of the combined figure for road deaths and murders in this country each year.

Last week, I attended Cycle Against Suicide's student leaders' congress in the RDS where 4,000 transition year students gathered to hear sports stars, musicians and their own peers discuss their experiences of dealing with their own mental health concerns.

It was impossible not to be sucked in by the energy and enthusiasm of founder Jim Breen, who was MC for the event, and the party atmosphere with performances from Ellie and Louise Macnamara, better known as Heathers and their anthem 'Forget Me Knots', which contains the rousing lyric: 'It's all right not to feel okay' - itself an anthem for the entire campaign.

  • Breifne will take part in the World Cycle Race in March, in which he hopes to break the current record for cycling around the planet

Irish Independent

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