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Blind cyclists gear up for Maracycle challenge

Blind and visually impaired cyclists will be among up to 1,000 people preparing to take on the “major challenge” of completing a gruelling Maracycle event this summer.

A group of athletes from The WATCH Club, based in the Newry area, will cover 200 miles in two days to raise funds for Co-operation Ireland, an organisation dedicated to improving North-South understanding.

Danny McSherry (61) from Newry, Co Armagh, has been involved in the club since it was launched in 2004 and said it allows visually impaired people to |improve their fitness level through cycling and walking.

The event, which is taking place from June 26-27, is |supported by the Belfast Telegraph and Irish Independent.

Mr McSherry explained they will have about six or eight tandems cycling in the event.

\[Clare Palmer\]”The back-seat rider, called the stoker, relies on verbal communication from the pilot, who sits in the front of the bike,” he said.\[Clare Palmer\]”I remember a girl telling me she could feel the air rushing through her hair and she had never had that sensation before, that was a special moment.

“Another girl said it isn’t just about cycling it is about a whole lot more, the interaction, getting to know eachother and opening up a new challenge and making new friends.”

The route will take them towards Lisburn, then on to Moira, Banbridge and Camlough and onwards to Dundalk.

Then to Castlebellingham, Dunleer, Drogheda and Naul before finishing at Dublin City University.

The next day the map will be reversed as cyclists are encouraged to pedal it back across the border.

Mr McSherry said: “It is a major and quiet gruelling challenge for anyone, but with dedication anyone can meet and overcome that challenge.”

For more information about the maracycle log onto www.cooperationireland.org.

Belfast Telegraph