Taking part in charity challenges has seen John dog sled in the Arctic, trek through the Andes, and run Marathons in New York and London.  One thing that was still on his bucket list was to cycle the length of Ireland from Malin Head to Mizen Head.  And that’s what he did in Lockdown, all 650km’s in his Kitchen!  We asked John what it was like and he told us 5 things he learned from the experience.


1. Happiness is homemade

My favourite part of cycling is spending time with the group, new people and old friends. The collective spirit, moments like stopping off for a 99, sitting in the sunshine, with little to worry about but completing the next stage, with a shower and hot dinner to look forward to. But with the whole challenge done at home in my kitchen, I soon realised I didn’t have to go far to create new memories. I had my amazing family surrounding me. Cakes were baked, yoga sessions done alongside me, with lots of smiles and even the news one day of a new President for America. It felt like a “where were you moment” in history and I was right where I belonged.


2. Don’t make a bad yesterday ruin a good today

A challenge does “what it says on the tin”, it makes you dig deep, and find energy and strength to carry on. After a full day at work (in the back bedroom / my new office), the kilometres on the bike sometimes seemed a big ask. Focusing on my motivation for the challenge helped. That was the easy part. I work at One in Four, and I am surrounded by amazing colleagues who, Move Mountains in people’s lives. I love to read the cards and the messages we receive from survivors of how the staff have been there for them and helped them get to a much better place in life. If ever there was a reason to be positive, knowing my challenge was helping support their work always made it a good day.


3. It’s the Journey that’s important not the destination

We are blessed in Ireland to be surrounded by such beauty in nature, cycling through the countryside watching the landscape slowly change is such a joy.  After the first 30 km’s in my kitchen with only the speedometer digits to entertain me I was soon missing the open landscapes and fresh air. But I was given 2 bits of very sound advice, get a cushion to sit on and get a screen to watch something. That evening I put my laptop on a chair beside my bike and streamed The Queens Gambit on Netflix. I will think back on all 6 hours and 33 minutes of it with a sense of accomplishment. Pawn to C4 and 450 more kilometres to go!


 4.Joy is like butter, it works best when you spread it

My Granda always said “giving to charity never made anybody poor”. With his voice in my head and words in my heart, I set up a Facebook Fundraiser and invited all my friends. I mapped out my journey and updated my page each evening. Not everyone could give right at that time, but getting the words of encouragement from friends meant a lot. And the thing was, lots of people were able to donate, they were so generous. Life is so challenging for so many at the moment, giving to charity feels like we can take control a little more and spread joy,  If I am fortunate to have grandchildren one day I will tell them to “ never underestimate people’s compassion”.


5. Now is always the right time to start something

You know that saying, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” maybe it should be “A goal without a plan B is just a dream” My dream to cycle Ireland had definitely hit some obstacles given the new 5km Lockdown restrictions. So if my Plan B soon could work, it would have to be Plan V.  I already had a half-decent road bike. I just needed a turbocharger to prop up the back wheel. I hadn’t trained a lot but after a quick visit to Amazon, 5 days later we were in business! The Present is the best place to be, it gives the future a better chance, and hopefully what we did on those 650 Virtual kilometres, created better chances for survivors.


If you are interested in organising a virtual challenge or want some ideas and support please contact [email protected]