A teacher from Eglinton has just parked her bicycle after a staggering 500-mile cycle, raising over £1000 aid of Action Mental Health.
Claire Lynch, who now lives in Glasgow, churned up the miles for the Northern Ireland charity after initial plans to cycle through Paris were thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 28-year-old cyclist, who previously ran the Belfast Marathon in aid of Action Mental Health, completed her two-wheeled challenge throughout the North West, where she returned to during the lockdown.
Her challenge took her through many picturesque parts of Northern Ireland and the Republic, including Ballyliffin and Greencastle in Donegal, as well as Limavady, Claudy, Portstewart, Portrush, Armoy and Ballycastle in counties Londonderry and Antrim.
“I mostly wanted to do this because I had fallen in love with cycling and wanted to push myself mentally and physically, all the while having a bit of an adventure,” she said.
‘But the pandemic made planning for a trip like this pretty difficult as I didn’t know when travel restrictions would be lifted and I obviously didn’t want to add to any risk of the spread.
‘After putting the whole thing on hold, one day I had the thought that I could still do the distance of the original plan, even if it was just on home turf. I say ‘just’ but it turns out where I live isn’t too shabby and actually has some really amazing cycle routes.
Choosing Action Mental Health as her beneficiary, Claire went on: ‘According to the NI Health Survey (2015) one in five adults in Northern Ireland will show signs of a mental illness. When matched to 17 other countries, Northern Ireland has the second highest rates of mental ill-health.
‘Sadly, due to the pandemic the work of Action Mental Health may be needed more now than ever.
‘On a personal level, I have experienced periods of poor mental health, mostly in the form of anxiety. Although I haven’t used this organisation I have benefitted from others and feel grateful to these types of services,’ she continued.
‘Alongside this help, cycling has been hugely beneficial in helping to manage my mental health. The feeling of being outside, moving my body and seeing nature always helps to lift my mood. Therefore a cycle challenge in aid of a mental health charity seemed like a great fit.’