On August 23rd eight hardy cyclists will embark on the challenge of a lifetime taking on one of Irelands iconic cycling routes covering the 650k from Malin Head in Donegal to Mizen Head in Cork over five days. This epic coast to coast journey, promises to test every inch of their limits both on and off the bike, as they embrace the challenge in support of a worthy cause.
The brainchild of Francis Dwane ‘Franny’ following his participating in IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland last year he was intrigued by the notion of traversing the country on two wheels over a number of days with a group of friends. Casting the net to gather more cyclists, Corinna Walsh from Dungarvan’s Tried and Tested Triathlon Club got involved to round up the troops from the triathlon club and with much recruitment success and more cyclists signed up, the Malin2Mizen challenge was born. With many personal connections in the group to the charity, including that of rider Richie Hayes, Breakthrough Cancer Research were chosen as the charity of choice for the challenge.
The group of cyclists includes Francis Dwane (Franny), Corinna Walsh, Donal Looby, John Campion, Richie Hayes, Justin Sanderson, Johnny O’Connor, Ronan Wall whose father Nicky is providing support during the trip, will be joined by Tracey Fennell, Anne-Marie Power and Tasha Lanigan, who will share driving the support van and cycling with the main group. Annabelle Hackett and Tomas Gough will join the group on Friday night, cycling the remaining 250 kilometres to the finish line.
From novice cyclists to experienced triathletes, the team have different levels of experience and fitness but all share the same goal and aspiration; to conquer the iconic Malin to Mizen route, a bucket-list cycle for many Irish and international athletes alike. Their training has taken them on many adventures close to home and indeed further afield, their small training group bolstered by fellow triathletes, cyclists and friends who joined them on their Sunday spins.
Embarking on an adventure of this nature requires meticulous planning, smart logistics, as well as effective and efficient training and preparation. Collectively gathering their skills, expertise and connections the team have left no stone unturned in their preparation for the road that lies ahead. Their efforts to raise €10,000+ for Breakthrough Cancer Research motivating them to embrace the challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome to get on their bikes and on the road.
Despite facing the elements with relentless rain, hail, and winds, the group has been steadfast in their dedication to the challenge. Their longest training cycle was 180.5 kilometres, and eight cyclists participated in the Tour de Kilkenny on August 5th before beginning their ‘taper’ to attain peak fitness towards their Malin2Mizen week.
Amidst the demanding training and logistical preparations, the most significant challenge has been fostering the belief that, with a consistent and gradual approach, they will achieve their mammoth goal as a united team. Balancing work, shift work, training, family life and other day-to-day responsibilities was also a challenge faced by all, and some had to take a creative approach to get some cardio exercise done: Cycling to and from work (a mere 80km, no less!) cycling on the Waterford Greenway with their children pedalling along or while on summer holidays on rented bikes… every training session counted!
“In many ways, cycling is actually a team sport,” said Annabelle, a 34-year-old mother who took up cycling during the pandemic in 2020. “I came for the weekly spins, I stayed for the camaraderie, inclusivity, and sense of belonging. The WhatsApp group has been great to keep everyone motivated and focused on the task ahead. From the top tips, John C. offers: ‘Cycle as if there’s broken glass in your shoes. It will improve your pedal stroke’; to Franny’s wise words: ‘Enjoy the freewheel on the downhill as there’s another hill to climb not too far away.”
With unity, determination, and a shared purpose, the Malin2Mizen cycling challenge has brought together a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds, ages, nationalities, and abilities. As they cycle through Ireland’s scenic landscapes, their bond of camaraderie will fuel their spirits, and their unwavering support for Breakthrough Cancer Research will propel them forward, united in their pursuit of making a difference one pedal stroke at a time.