Belles for leather- the female bikers (and brave men!) who are in the pink for charity

Kerry McKittrick and Roisin Delaney meet some of those taking to the roads to raise funds for charity

Ready for the off: Biker Cat Ross
Suits you, sir: Doug Clingan likes to dress up to raise awareness

If you're out on Northern Ireland's roads at the end of August you might see an unusual sight. On the weekend of August 24-25, 100 mostly female bikers will be making a circuit of the province dressed in tutus and pink vests with pink mohawks on their helmets.

This fancy dress spectacular will be the very first Breast Way Round Norn Iron. The marathon 300-mile ride, starting and finishing at Stormont, will take the motorcyclists two days and aims to raise more than £10,000 for Macmillan Cancer Care.

The Breast Way Round fundraising event was initiated five years ago in Scotland with the aim of raising £250,000 for Macmillan. To date they have managed £210,000 through bike rides, balls and other fundraising events.

The event is now coming to Northern Ireland for the first time with places still available on the ride for any interested bikers.

This is primarily a women's event but there are a few places available for men – though they must add a decorated bra to their tutu and mohawk ensemble. There is a prize for the best one.

We talk to some of those taking part in the event, including one intrepid man.

 

'In my job I see great work charity does for its patients'

Cat Ross (37) is an occupational therapist and lives in Belfast. She says:

My parents don't actually know I have a bike. I think if they don't see it in the paper they'll find out when we fundraise in Enniskillen. That's where I'm from so they'll come and see me down there.

I started biking about eight years ago because it's something I've always wanted to do and couldn't afford it earlier. I have a touring bike now so I take it all over the UK.

I got involved with Northern Ireland Female Bikers because I wanted to meet more women bikers. When I saw the Breast Way Round I thought it answered everything. I work in the health service with a lot of clients with cancer so I see first hand the support an organisation like Macmillan gives. People are being diagnosed in greater numbers than ever before and Macmillan provides them with a valuable lifeline. Their resources are stretched so raising money for them was perfect for me.

I'm really looking forward to the run – I'll be pimping my bike in pink for the occasion. I'm pleased I'm able to give back to the community and have a great trip at the same time."

 

'After cancer, my daughters are delighted I can do this'

Biking gran: Helen on her SuzukiHelen Magee (53) lives in Larne. She has two daughters, Karen (34) and Emma (30), and three grandchildren. She is a breast cancer survivor and works as a refuse collector driving the bin lorry. She says:

 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. I went through various treatments and was told in 2011 that there were pre-cancerous cells posing a threat to me and that the cancer might return. So in January of last year I had a full mastectomy and now I just need a yearly check-up.

Driving has always been a part of my life. Before I became ill I was a lorry driver and a bus driver. Being on a bike is a great feeling, but I've never been into riding really fast as that doesn't appeal to me. What attracted me to this event was the fact that I get such an adrenaline rush on a bike. I bought my first bike in 2012 after a friend who has always been into biking got me interested. It was that same friend who persuaded me to go to the first committee meeting for this event and I've been excited about it since.

It's that wind in your hair sensation, a feeling of complete freedom. And it's great because everyone who has got involved feels like they're part of a big pink biking family, so the sense of community is a bonus. It'll be an amazing sight to see everyone on their bikes decked out in pink and the men wearing bras.

I have been in two (bike) accidents. The first was on the Coast Road in Co Antrim when I broke my femur. In the second accident I escaped with cuts and bruises.

My mother isn't exactly over the moon given my past record. But my daughters are delighted that I'm willing and able to do something like this."

 

'It's emotional when you think of the departed'

 

Doug Clingan (43), originally from Scotland, now lives in Tandragee, Co Armagh. He has two daughters, Emma (24) and Amanda (21). He works at Moy Park food processing company in Craigavon and is a committee member of BWR Scotland. He says:

 

Although I've never been directly affected by breast cancer, I got involved three years ago through word of mouth from friends because it is a good cause and biking is always something I've been interested in.

I got my first bike when I was 16 years old. My love for biking just evolved from there. I think biking is something everyone should do at least once in their lives.

This year we're really happy to bring the event to Northern Ireland. If the weather turns bad that won't stop us.

Along the route we have memorials for the many women who have lost their battle against breast cancer. With the men in bras and everyone in pink, it can be quite a light-hearted occasion but when you stop and have time to remember the people affected by the disease it gets very emotional and even some of the men struggle to hold their feelings in.

All the men taking part must wear a bra, preferably a decorated bra. It's just for an added bit of fun really.

At the end of it all we'll have a competition for the best decorated bra, which will be sponsored by Slims Cafe and Bike Stop. We've had a lot of support from bike shops, bike clubs and local councillors across Northern Ireland so we're hoping this year's event will be a success and that we'll be able to bring it back to Northern Ireland in the future."

'Macmillan helped me to cope when mum was really ill'

Sarah Travis (40) lives in Ballymoney with her partner Stephen and their children Siobhan (21), Kalib (16), Dean (13) and Ciaran (12). She is a full-time carer for Ciaran who is autistic. She says:

 

I used to have no interest in bikes. It was my partner Stephen who was into motorcross racing. Stephen broke bones in his back in a motorcross accident. From that point on there was no more motorcross but he decided to buy a road bike for driving around on. I rode pillion with him on that for two years before I decided it was high time I should get my own bike and learn how to ride myself. That was eight years ago.

I've organised a few bike trips in the past and when Lisa Moore told me about the trip I jumped at the chance to get involved.

My family have used Macmillan Cancer Care's service and we think they're fantastic. My aunt had breast cancer and after a mastectomy still uses the bra-fitting service they provide. My mum contracted cancer in her tongue a few years ago while I was living in Scotland. It was a terrible time but Macmillan were fantastic. I'm very proud to be doing something to raise money for such a brilliant cause."

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