‘I spent lockdown doing endless loops of my locality’

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Just the thought of driving from one end of the country to the other is exhausting and most of us wouldn’t take the journey lightly. But imagine replacing your car with a bicycle and suddenly the four-wheel option seems very attractive indeed.

On June 19, Ciarán Cannon plans the mammoth task of cycling from Mizen Head to Malin Head, a journey of just under 600km.

And he plans to complete the cycle in less than 24 hours, in an effort to raise money and awareness for Hand in Hand, a national charity that supports families affected by childhood cancer.

Hand in Hand provides the practical and emotional support a family needs during this traumatic time

“I’ve been training with lockdown for the past year, which left me with endless loops of my place,” says the Galway-based TD. “When a family receives the news that their child has cancer, their world is thrown into turmoil. And while we have some of the best doctors and nurses in the world when it comes to treating cancer itself, their work is complemented by Hand in Hand, who provide the practical and emotional support a family needs during this traumatic time.

“The engagement means parents no longer have to worry about doing laundry, eating in the fridge or picking up siblings from school – and sometimes it can be something as simple as a meal on the table when they get home from school. a chemotherapy session.

“They relieve parents of worries about the normal day-to-day running of their home so that they can, in turn, focus on helping their child get better.”

The 55-year-old, who is no stranger to cycling, says that when he sets himself up with a new cycling challenge, he strives to partner with a good cause, firstly so that they can benefit from fundraising, but also because it is an opportunity for him. additional incentive is to complete the task.

And he says the charity he chose to support this event was the result of hearing about a local child’s journey recently. “We are all inspired by the incredible courage and resilience of Saoirse Ruane, an extraordinary young girl who is a huge part of our local community and has taken on the challenge of childhood cancer with absolute grace,” he says. “Saoirse’s mother, Roseanna, is a good friend of mine and I know from conversations with her that Hand in Hand’s support was crucial in coping, especially in the early days of Saoirse’s diagnosis. Fortunately, Saoirse is now on the mend and has even started cycling. So she continues to be an inspiration to all of us.

“But when I hear of a child diagnosed with cancer, a child with a life full of potential, I immediately think of my own child and wonder how I would handle such a situation. I wonder where I would find the strength and resilience that all parents of children with cancer seem to find. I therefore have enormous respect for the work of Hand in Hand, as they take care of the small things and the sometimes everyday things, so that parents and siblings have the time and space to really support each other and share the strength and resilience find it that will help them meet the challenge of childhood cancer together.”

For me, cycling is a sport for life, and there is a lot of really good research highlighting its incredible health benefitsvoordelen

Although he has always loved cycling and was already in good shape, he trained relentlessly to prepare for June 19. “Cycling has always been an important part of my life, from childhood, and it’s something I hope to do for as long as I can,” he says. “To me, cycling is a sport for life, and there’s a lot of really good research out there highlighting its incredible health benefits. I currently burn about 2,700 calories a day, so I don’t have to be hugely restrictive in my diet, but I do focus on eating whole, whole foods with a focus on getting enough protein to maintain muscle mass and strength. I’ve lost about 10kg in the past year, despite a single hit, and I’m hopeful I’ve found the right power-to-weight ratio.

“But there are two important aspects to training for a long-distance event like this: you have to build power so that you can maintain a steady speed of about 17 miles per hour for 24 hours, and you also have to get used to just being on the track for extended periods of time. bicycle. So I aim to cycle at least 200km per week, mixing shorter high-intensity sessions to build strength and longer spins to build endurance. And in recent weeks I have increased the distance to 300 km. I also did a charity cycle of 420km in 24 hours last October, so I’m pretty hopeful I can cover 600km.”

Cycling through the night won’t be easy, but Cannon, who is joined by a group of equally sporty cyclists, has planned a number of short stops along the way to refuel and catch your breath.

“I’m doing the event with eight other friends,” he says. “We’ve all been training individually for the past year because of the pandemic, and we’re now only getting together for team spins. But we had an excellent Zoom conversation two weeks ago with legendary cyclist Joe Barr and his nutritionist and coach, Jillian Mooney, and their advice on logistics and food consumption was invaluable.

Ciaran cannon.

“So over the 600km distance we now plan to have six food stops of 15 minutes each, which will give us time to get enough fuel, but also ensure we get to Malin Head in less than 24 hours. We’ve also assembled a fantastic support crew who will look after us along the way, especially during the nighttime phase, and we plan to practice the nighttime cycling element of the ride before we leave on June 19.”

The avid cyclist set himself a fundraising goal of €5,000, which he would happily exceed as all the money raised goes to Hand in Hand’s work.

“I would really encourage people to visit hand-in-hand.ie to see first-hand the difference their work makes in the lives of families challenged by childhood cancer,” he says. “They really do an exceptional job and deserve our support. And if you’d like to donate, you can find my cycling event donation page by simply searching for Idonate Ireland In one day.”

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