Locals Mick Foley and Frank Burke win the Race Around Ireland
While raising money for Wexford Hospice Homecare was the main goal for two Bunclody cyclists as they took part in the Race Around Ireland recently, not only were they successful to this end, but they also managed to win the two-man team category outright!
Mick Foley, originally from Knockanure, and Frank Burke, originally from Galway and now living in Bunclody from where he works as Wexford County Council's Cycling Officer, both set their sites on competing in the gruelling 2,100km Race Around Ireland towards the start of the year, and since then they've put in Trojan work to ensure they were in tip top shape as they rolled out for the main event.
'I suppose it was probably my fault really,' Mick said, reflecting on how the venture came about. 'I had been following the race for a while and I threw it out in a Viber message to see if anyone would be interested and Frank came back to me straight away.'
The pair then embarked on a strict training regime which saw them clock up over 3,000 hours in the saddle and 8,000 kilometres covered over a period of 30 weeks.
'It was heavy enough going alright,' said Mick. 'We were doing most of the long spins at the weekend, but it was a considerable undertaking. We looked at a few charities to do it for, but a couple of my cousins died recently from cancer so we opted to do it for Wexford Hospice Homecare. We wanted to make sure it was a local charity.'
Tales of the duo's exploits resulted in great interest in sponsorship and, as part of their training, they took to the square in Bunclody on stationary bikes with a bucket collection to raise funds too.
'So far we've raised over €8,000,' Mick said. 'We're absolutely delighted with that. We had kind of hoped to raise around €4,000 to start with so we're delighted with how everyone has gotten behind us.'
If the fundraising was successful, the race itself was even moreso as the lads managed to win their category having covered the length and breadth of the country. They operated on a relay with each man doing 4-5 hours while the other rested.
'It was very tough,' Mick definitively confirmed. 'The hardest part was the lack of sleep. While one of us was cycling, they other was trying to get some sleep in a camper van travelling behind. I didn't really sleep at all between the Sunday and the Thursday. We crossed the line in 92 hours and 47 minutes, which we were happy enough with. The plan was to make it in under 132 hours, so we achieved that anyway.'
The pair were extremely grateful to their road crew, who provided great help and support to them every kilometre of the way. They also wished to thank everyone who got behind them and put their hands in their pockets for sponsorship.