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Active giving – one week in June

Active giving is part of Ulster Bank every year. This year Ulster Bank staff, including Anna cycled from Dublin to Belfast.

If you’ve any sympathy for a girl crashing off her bike, then you’ll support her charitable cause by donating to One Week in June.

She’s OK, but you can ease her pain by helping cancer charities.

Anna was on the cycle from Dublin to Belfast on last Wednesday for COO’s One Week in June event. A wobble into the side of the road, a fall onto sharp tarmac, a smashed helmet, a broken bike, a gashed knee, a cut shoulder, a run over by the cyclist behind her. Lying still on the ground, she braved a painful half-hour wait for the ambulance, a few hours under an x-ray machine and stitches.

So come on, donate at any of our ATMs.

‘Lashings of ginger beer!’

The rest of the group got to Belfast after 10 hours in the saddle, covering 185 km (115 miles). And their experience wasn’t without some weird and wonderful things along the way. Wonderful was the taste of the freshly cut sandwiches that greeted the cyclists at Dundalk. It was an Enid Blyton Famous Five moment, but without Timmy the dog. Property Services organised the food and drink along the way and what Fran McLaughlin and Lorna O’Gorman produced out of the back of a Fiat 500 was demolished by the 12 hungry cyclists who had made it over the undulating hills of north Dublin, Meath and Louth.

Time to lather on more sun cream from the other support car donated by Rob Bett and driven by Mark Fitzgerald and Jackie Eyre.

Where’s Newry branch?

Off across the border in two groups, both of which took a wrong turn. Some whacky races scenarios trying to find Newry branch, before they were off again along the serene tow path of the Newry Canal. If you take the train to Belfast (a nice, comfortable and highly recommended way to get there) you’ll see the path run alongside for a few miles.

Michael McCarron (‘leave them for dead’) stormed ahead with JP McKenna (the tall type who kept the wind off everyone else), Robin Marshall (driven, but on a bike) Seamus Fingleton (“A nice afternoon’s spin in the country”), Scott Armstrong (“I’m from NI, but I’ve no idea where we are”) and David ‘Ironman’ McIntyre.

In the next bunch were Cian Kelliher (thanks Cian for the beers on the train), Tony Hamilton (came out of nowhere to join at the last minute and did everyone proud), Alister Gibson (thought all along he may not finish it, but cycled past the comforting call of his family home in Newry to finish the job), Mike Gogan (‘please stay in a bunch’), Robb Bett (‘I’m alright me, I’ve had my jam sandwiches and my car’s waiting for me in Belfast’) and Julie Watson (fell three times, got back on the bike and finished it) followed.

Bull, tight jersey

Two miles into the Newry tow path, a passer-by shouted a warning about a bull loose ahead. Picture this: all of the cyclists in bright, tight jerseys, flashed with red, travelling at pace on a narrow path into not one, but a herd of bulls. Frisky, horned bulls on the hunt for something to maul or mate. A nervous 10 minutes for beasts and bikers.

Then everyone got lost. Some spent 15 miles cycling on the A1, vying for position with juggernauts. Some decided to pay Banbridge an unexpected visit, knocking on the door of the branch to beg money for water and something sugary (thanks branch manager, Mark Tumilty), but they all made it to Lisburn for the 100 mile mark and on through Belfast’s suburbs to arrive around 6pm for charity photos in the evening sunshine.

DSE has new showers installed. Lucky for the other train passengers that the 12 cyclists used them, washing away the aroma of 10 hours pedalling in sweltering sunshine, limbs plastered with dust and sun block, bikes splattered with what frightened bulls leave behind

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