TWO lifelong pals are all set for a “mad auld adventure” — to cycle nearly 25,000 kilometres from Sydney, Australia, all the way back to Ireland, crossing 28 countries and three continents along the way.
Daithí Harrison and Paddy Flynn, both 31, who have strong connections to Cork, have been planning, working and training for the epic journey for the past three years.
They will set out from The Children’s Hospital in Sydney on Sunday, August 4, and aim to arrive at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin some 14 to 15 months later, raising funds for both in the process.
Daithí, from Carrick in Tipperary, attended a drama course at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa in Cork a few years ago. Paddy is from Waterford and attended a FÁS apprenticeship in Bishopstown as a young man. Both men are now based in Sydney.
The lads explain their motivation for the marathon trek: “We both believe it is our duty to be of service to generations that follow us, especially those who need it most.”
Daithí adds: “We know we can make a difference in the lives of others with the fund-raising drive and sharing.”
The pair’s entire journey, updates, insights and fundraising links can be found at www.2cycle28.com
“The more we shared our plans with people, you could see faces really light up, it has been very rewarding,” says Daithí.
“The trip is a form of self-investment too, like I would have hopes to come out the other side a better man, to be more in control of body and mind.
“But certainly, too, the reaction sparked an idea in us collectively aiming to inspire people back home, inspire the adventure at a time when Ireland needs it.
“We’d love to help inspire people to do things a little differently, to think a little differently and really think about what makes us happy as humans.”
Paddy agrees: “In sharing our story, it would be nice to think it might help encourage someone to make a change, to just see the fun that can be had out in the mountains, or to just get out for a walk, a run, or a cycle.
“And for us, what better way to see all there is between Sydney and Ireland? It will just be the pair of us on touring bikes with a tent, wild camping and the very basics of what’s needed. We’re looking forward to the minimalism of it, the freedom and fresh perspective.”
It’s all a long way from the carpentry apprenticeship Paddy attended in Bishopstown a decade back. Indeed, fitness expert Dave Mahedy, the University of Limerick Director of Sport, called their venture “an incredible challenge which is pushing the barriers and boundaries” of fitness and endurance.
“It would be hard to replicate or train for this, given its unique nature,” added Mahedy. “Distance is just one of the variables and factors, like even just climate alone, the variances of hot and cold.
”No amount of training or planning can really replicate or anticipate the conditions, even with physical aspects aside. Resting up too is really part of training. The body has to be able to recover.
“It’s a great thing to do and you’d want and wish all to go well and to plan. It’ll all be worth it if and when they can do it. Fair play to both of them, it’s a massive, massive challenge.”
Certainly the lads are taking plenty of precautions, as Paddy explains: “The Nullarbour Plain across Australia is 1,200km alone and there’s not much there besides a roadhouse every couple hundred of kilometres or so.
“So, even water will be a challenge, but we have a SteriPEN to sterilise water along the way should we need to.
“We also have a SPOT Gen3 satellite messenger and tracker to show our location on the website as we travel. It’s also linked to the International Emergency Response Centre, so we have that lifeline.”
Daithi adds: “We will pick up more tips and tricks from locals along the way too. Besides snakes in Australia they have tigers in India! How do you possibly prepare two Irishmen for all that?
“And we’re looking to get into nature as much as possible, that’s where the power is.
“Staying on top of our training and injury- free will be a huge challenge, as well as getting the right nutrition. But you learn so much from different destinations and cultures.
“It’s been a revelation on past travels how happy people can be with so little.”
After crossing Australia, the pair will head up into Asia, then the Middle East and finally Europe.
In terms of sights, Paddy is particularly looking forward to Göbekli Tepe in Turkey, an archaeological site dating back to 10,000BC, while both are highlighting Nepal: “Yes, Mount Everest and the Himalayas, all the mountains. We’d love to be in that region for Christmas.”
Cork playwright Marion Wyatt was course director in performing arts at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa when Daithí studied there a few years ago. He said: “It’s brilliant what he’s doing; I’m not surprised at all. Right from the start David impressed with his attitude, enthusiasm, sense of fun. And he’s very charismatic, he’d be motivating and encouraging others, always able to link with different personalities and know what they needed.
“There is no doubt they will do this, David is a strong character and very physically strong and fit. One thing is for sure, I will be there at the finish line when they’re coming back to welcome them! It’s fantastic.”
Daithí added: “With Paddy and I being mates over the years, we know of each other’s capabilities, which gives us confidence and a belief anything is possible.
“This is the adventure of a lifetime, to be free, to explore the world, to learn about ourselves and other cultures.”
“So let’s rock n’ roll… we’re ready for this!”
And lads, thanks to technology, we will be with you every step of the way.
See www.2cycle28.com and, on Instagram — of_mountains_and_men
To donate, see https://www.idonate.ie/fundraiser/11379756_of-mountains-and-men.html