Gerry set for the Pyrenees

A Portrush man will be amongst those showing what pedal power can do in pursuit of a good cause as he takes part in a seven day coast to coast charity cycle from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean, across the Pyrenees and climbs some of the highest mountains of the celebrated Tour de France.

It’s not quite up hill all the way, but it will certainly feel like it for the twenty-strong Northern Irish contingent - which will include local man Gerry O’Neill - who will be tackling some of the world’s most celebrated cycling terrain to raise funds for Friends of The Cancer Centre from from 19th to 25th September,

It’s a case of ‘going the extra mile’ for a sporting team comprising staff from The Cancer Centre, cancer survivors and members of the Phoenix Cycling Club.

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While some are already highly accomplished cyclists, others are gearing up for what may well prove the biggest sporting challenge of their lives, pedalling up a total of over 40,000 feet from Perpignan to Biarritz with not a single flat road on the way.

Gerry says: “We may be facing a massive challenge as cyclists but, if we measure up, we can raise funds to help others meet the real challenge of coping with cancer.

“That motivation is enough to give us the energy we’ll need to average 70 miles a day over some mega-peaks, as we take on what has been described as one of the world’s great bike rides.

“I’m keen to support Friends because there can be few families in Northern Ireland untouched by cancer, so this seemed a really worthwhile cause, particularly as Friends offers such a practical and warm helping hand to cancer sufferers.”

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The group members will set off on their adventure in September, starting from Perpignan on the shores of the Mediterranean and cycling through St Jean Pied de Port en route to Camino which, in 2006, was the starting point for the cyclists’ last charity cycle which raised £70,000 for the Friends of the Cancer centre.

The cyclists will follow the route from the Mediterranean across the Pyrenees to finish on the shores of the Atlantic …maybe even with a refreshing dip in the ocean, provided the water’s not too cold!

They recently got together for some serious stamina-building training, launching the call for sponsorship which they are hopeful will be readily forthcoming from those whose lives have in some way been affected by cancer.

Gerry adds: “I’m looking forward to this challenge, not least because it will be done in the company of friends and for ‘Friends’!

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“There will be no easy going and we can expect this to be very tough in places and even the weather will have an impact on our progress. In a single day there could be high temperatures at the bottom of a mountain but freezing cold temperatures and snow at the top,

“We all know that we have to be really well prepared and the prospect of the event is encouraging all of us to build our fitness levels! We’re planning on taking part in a full calendar of local sporting events as part of our training regime.”

Welcoming the commitment of all members of the group, Colleen Shaw, Director of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: “This really will be a ‘tour de force’ from our cycling supporters and we are extremely grateful to them for opting to support us.”

Donations large and small are welcome and can be made by contacting Friends of the Cancer Centre directly on 028 9069 9393 or via

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