The ultra cyclists at the end of a previous fundraising road trip when they arrived back in Knock.

Mayo men lead the way in ultra cycle aiming to reach €277,000 this year

A GROUP of ultra cyclists will complete the Ancient East, a distance of 1,100km, this month, from Derry city to Kinsale in Cork, along the east coastline.

The group have already raised €227,000 to date for worthy causes and in this, their sixth year, they hope to raise another €50,000.

The six brave cyclists begin their cycle on Wednesday, August 24, and will complete the challenging journey on August 27 at the Old Head in Kinsale, taking in Derry, Antrim, Down, Louth, Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and Cork and all the coastal towns and cities en route.

“To date, we have raised €227,000 over six ultra charity cycles, covering 8,700km across five different countries in just 25 days,” Alan Heaney, the main organiser, explained. “All our cycles are self-financed, so 100% of all monies collected goes directly to the worthy charities.”

Alan, from Swinford, is a part-time farmer and agri business owner, and is the co-founder and owner of Efficient Farm Solutions, Lely Centre Mullingar and Efficient Farm Systems. While he’s very busy with business, farm, family and sport, he spends his limited free time cycling the roads of Mayo, Galway and Sligo, getting the long miles of preparation in.

Typical training sessions for Alan entail 75km to 150km spins, in the early morning and weekends. In addition to road cycling, he trains two to three times a week in the early hours of the morning, running through forestry trails, cross mountain ranges and bog roads to build up the stamina, physical and mental fitness required to complete ultra events.

Alan has been joined by fellow co-owner of EFS/Lely Centre Mullingar, Niall McGauran, on many trips and both are big advocates of fundraising for local and national charities through ultra-cycling events.

“The event is fantastic,” said Alan. “The big push behind the fundraising are our social media followers and the general public who donate to us, and the corporates who support us. Over the last two years, our corporates include MSD, Alltech, Glanbia, IFAC, Keenan, Lely, Lakeland Co-op, Kepak, Easifix, Zerograzer, and I’d really like to thank them for their generous support for these fantastic causes.”

The charities benefitting from this year’s cycle include Turn2Me, a national mental health charity, and the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation who fund palliative care services in the community and their two hospices, and Hooves4Hospice who are raising vital funds for the cost of building a planned midland regional hospice for the counties of Laois, Longford, Westmeath and Offaly. The charities have stated that charity fundraising has dropped significantly during the pandemic, and they are very grateful for the efforts of the cyclists involved, the supporters, the donors and everyone who gets involved.

The participants are from various counties - Gerry 'Boots' is from Armagh, living in London; Brendan Barrett is from Belmullet, living in London; Ronan Bourke is from Balla; Vinny Gavin from Swinford, Jonathon Very is based in Tubbercurry; Alan Heaney is from Swinford; and Niall McGauran, one of the main sponsors and a participant cyclist, is from Roscommon.

The Ultra Cycle also has an 'agri day'' on day 3 (Friday, August 26), which starts on Sandymount Strand and finishes 255km later in Duncannon Beach in Waterford. This leg is open to all cyclists, particularly farmers, industry (vets, co-ops, advisors, animal health companies, etc.). Anyone can join.

The group welcomes all cycling enthusiasts to join them on the agri day for fun, laughs and a healthy, community networking day. Members of the public are encouraged to come and cycle a 65km leg or the full 255km stage.

For more information on the Ultra Cycle for Charity or to donate, go to