Fine Gael duo get on their bikes for special needs

Fine Gael Senator Ciaran Cannon and Councillor Michael Mogie Maher training for the Irish Pilgrimage Trust challenge.

Fine Gael Senator Ciaran Cannon and Councillor Michael Mogie Maher training for the Irish Pilgrimage Trust challenge.

Two Galway Fine Gael representatives will this weekend take on the gruelling challenge of cycling 780km from Dinard in northern France to Lourdes in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the hopes of raising more than €250,000 for young people with special needs.

Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on children and youth affairs, Senator Ciaran Cannon, and Galway County Councillor, Michael Mogie Maher, will join 130 other cyclists from all over Ireland to participate in the fundraising event which is being held in aid of the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, a charity that cares for young people with special needs.

Each cyclist will complete the full route, covering more than 100km a day for seven days. The team of 133 cyclists is supported by a back-up team of 20 people who move luggage, provide roadside food stops, and marshal the route each day. The event is overseen by Kiltullagh based Dr Michael McGloin and Pat Jordan of Clarinbridge.

Speaking in advance of the trip, Senator Cannon said: "This is a wonderful event and we are really looking forward to our time on the road and supporting this very worthwhile Galway based charity in the process. The Trust takes almost 500 young people with special needs to Lourdes every Easter and also operates two holiday homes, one in Clarinbridge and one in Rosslare. This cycle is the Trust's primary fundraising event and we expect to raise in excess of a quarter of a million euro through this event.”

According to Cllr Maher the event has grown from a small group of six cyclists who first completed it in 1984 to the 130 cyclists taking part this year. “There is significant representation from Co Galway with over 30 cyclists from the region taking part. The terrain we will cover is very varied from the hills of Brittany to the vineyards around Bordeaux and finishing with a tough day climbing up to Lourdes in the Pyrenees. The weather is unpredictable at this time of year and more often than not cyclists are forced to endure southerly headwinds. However, the physical challenge is more than compensated for by the sense of camaraderie felt on the road every day.”

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