As we approach our 40th year, the future of the Clare 250 Mile Cycle is unknown. Over the last decade, numbers have dwindled because people’s attitudes have dramatically changed. We have heard that the cycle is too long, too boring, stops too much, provides too much food, should provide showers and shouldn’t expect people to sleep on a floor. Sadly we have heard “I deserve” & “I expect” more in the last decade than in the last 40 years. When we started the bikes were second hand, the gear was tracksuits and the transport was vans but we were willing to endure because someone out there had it worse off. Now the bikes, the gear, road safety and training have dramatically improved but we have lost what it means to be selfless.
The event has always been and will always be first and foremost a charity event welcoming all levels of cycling experience. We do what we do because most of us have personally watched someone we love live with cancer. We have seen the fear when they have faced the diagnosis. We have seen them show enviable courage when they have had to endure multiple scans, tests and surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the side effects that come with them and pain that no one should endure. We have seen them being mentally and physically pushed out of their comfort zone and yet their courage sustains and they fight on. They have no other option. We do what we do for them and for the countless others in the same position. And we do it selflessly, with no conditions or demands and no sense of entitlements. We put them first. It is the least we can do and the least they deserve.
To say the “riders” do all the hard work belittles the immense amount of work the backup crew do on the days coming up to the event and on the weekend. Without them there would be no cycle and the Clare 250 certainly would not have lasted this long. It is a group event where no one individual is more or less important than the next. There have been suggestions that participants should be divided into two groups which would be a logistical nightmare, that we should change into what every other cycle out there has become but that would essentially change what the Clare 250 Mile Cycle is about. What makes the event unique is we all support each other to get through it. When someone struggles, there is always someone there to help you through the next few miles. The craic and camaraderie is second to none. It’s about community and friendship and forming a bond doing something selflessly for people in our families, for our friends or our neighbours who are more courageous than we are.
Not everyone is able for the Clare 250 Mile Cycle. It takes much more than the ability to cycle a bike in record time. It is a test of endurance and strength of character. It means not thinking about what you want and thinking about what you would be willing to do for someone you knew who had been diagnosed with cancer. Obviously you can now understand why the complaints about too slow a pace, too boring a ride etc would fall on deaf ears. There are things far more important than should come first.