THE Rathdowney Easy Riders have spent the past ten years cycling and fundraising for many wothy charities, raising over €370,000 already. This year was no different and for their 10th annual cycle the group chose to cycle to Achill Island in Mayo.
Their chosen charities were The Aislinn Centre in Ballyraggett and The Laois Dyslexia Support Group, as well as some local causes in Rathdowney. Last weekend the group gave their fundrasing efforts to the charities involved. They presented presented two cheques for €2,000 and €8,000 to Laois Dyslexia and The Aislinn Centre Ballyraggett respectively and two cheques of €1000 each to Rathdowney Community Centre and Rathdowney Playground.
This year the group had 55 cyclists and 25 backup crew doing the trip. As it was an Olympic year they invited Rathdowney’s Olympian Gerry Hayes to cut the ribbon for the start of their 180 mile cycle to Achill Island. Gerry won Gold in swimming in the Baton Rouge 1984. He has won four Olympic medals in swimming in all and was known as ‘The Rocket’.
The trip was another great success for the Easy Riders.
There were a number of people involved in making the trip work, including the cyclists, motorcyclists, cooks, collectors, sponsors, helpers, drivers, mechanics, and the public.
Organisers said that there were so many people involved in organisation, that it would be impossible to thank them all, but Easy Riders are very grateful for the help and support they received.
Over the past decade The Easy Riders have raised over €370,000 for Conquer Cancer, Praedar Willie Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Down Syndrome, Autism, Guide Dogs for the Blind, The Make Believers, Drug Rehab, and Dyslexia Support among others.
Mick Creagh, a member of the group said: “the Easy Rider cycles have brought out the best in us and has shown all that is good about Rathdowney people and people in general when they are engaged in doing something they love and that is going to benefit someone worse off than themselves. One of the motorcyclists said to me this year, ‘If only we could bottle this energy and keep it going all the time’. Don’t let your bike get rusty boys and girls because we will do it all again next year God willing. Roll on 2013 and the long evenings”.
The Easy Riders charity cycle group was started in Rathdowney in 2003 to raise funds for worthy charities. It started as a joke between a few friends on a dark winter’s night at the counter in Tim Barry’s pub. Fed up talking about the weather and the price of cattle, the conversation had died and just to break the silence someone joked: “let’s cycle to Achill this summer, it’ll be good for us”. Ten years later the group are still laughing, and no doubt they will be fundraising bigger and better in 2013.