BB boys on their bikes from Mizen to Malin

Ian McDowell.INPT09-231
Ian McDowell.INPT09-231

Portadown man Ian McDowell is getting on his bike for a mammoth challenge in a bid to raise funds for a Ugandan mission.

Ian (51) will be accompanied by a friend from the Boys’ Brigade as he embarks on the 420-mile journey the length of Ireland, from Mizen Head to Malin Head this Saturday.

They’ll be up bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the train from Portadown to Dublin, then from Dublin on to Cork.

“We’ll get a bus from Cork to Bantry where we’ve booked a B&B,” said Ian. “That’s as far ahead as we’ve planned.”

Ian, a paramedic with the ambulance service and a member of 4th Portadown Boys’ Brigade, continued: “We’re doing it for friends of ours from Portadown Baptist Church who are going out to Uganda with Fields of Life.

“The guy I’m cycling with has been on at me to do something like this for a long time. We’ve been friends through the BB for a while,” said Ian who’ll have been with 4th Portadown for 40 years this September.

Ian added: “He’s in a cycling club, but for me it’s just something I do for the craic of it.

“This is as good a time as any to do it and for a good cause.”

He continued: “The furthest I’ve done would be 100 miles a couple of years ago.

“This will be 420 miles. We’ll be aiming for four days but it might take a bit longer depending on the weather.

“The plan is when we get tired we’ll find somewhere to put our heads down for the night, whether it’s a hostel or a B&B.

“If the weather’s good we might take in some of the coast roads. We’ll just see where the weather takes us.”

Commenting on his preparation, Ian said: “I suppose I could be better prepared. I probably could have practised a bit more. Once I get started and get a couple of days over me I’ll be fine.

“I’ll be so embarrassed if we have to call the ambulance service,” joked the paramedic, who has been with the ambulance service for the past 23 years.

Ian, who lives in Bocombra Manor, is a father of three - Ben (19), Jill (17) and Scott (13).

Ian said: “We haven’t properly started a fundraising push. It’s just been family and close friends. This is the real start of the fundraising.”

Anyone wishing to donate to Ian’s cycling fundraiser can go to the Justgiving page - or call Ian on 0798 221 6186.

Looking ahead to Saturday, he commented: “I’m a bit more uptight about it than I let on. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll get there.”