Belfast Telegraph

Irish fan who cycled for charity to get to Euros helped after bike theft bid

An Irish fan who cycled more than 350 miles to get to Euro 2016 was saved by local French women who helped him when men tried to steal his bike.

Alan Maxwell, 34, from Dublin, took on the mammoth cycle to raise money for charity as his father is suffering from prostate cancer.

A beer ambassador for the Guinness Storehouse, he had the worst possible start to his football adventure when he was set upon by men in Paris.

Mr Maxwell got the ferry to Holyhead on June 9 and cycled 125 miles (200km) from Anglesey to Shrewsbury the next day.

He then cycled (125 miles) 200km from Shrewsbury to Oxford, and finally got back on his bike for another 106 mile (170km) cycle to London where he hopped on the train to Paris.

"That was all for my Pub To Paris charity," he said.

"My dad is fighting prostate cancer at the moment. I wanted to go to the Euros anyway but I also wanted to do something nice while I was going there."

He arrived in the French capital on June 13 in time for the Republic's first game of the tournament.

"Unfortunately then, when I arrived in Paris, some lads tried to jump me and rob my bike. But the local market women helped me and stopped them.

"Going into Paris and that happening was the worst start to the actual Euro adventure.

"I'd love to be able to thank the people who helped me but I was just too scared and had to get away to the safety of the Irish fans," he said.

Mr Maxwell has raised 5,000 euros (£3,830) so far and will divide the money between Arc men's cancer support and Breast Cancer Ireland.

Reflecting on the cycle, he said: "If I'm honest it was too big an undertaking. The distances were too much. My legs have never felt as bad, and as well as the physical side of it, because I was on my own the mental strength is what really I found tough, just to motivate myself to keep going.

"But my mantra was 'it's time to earn the money that people donated'."

He said he is following the Republic all the way, adding: "I couldn't be prouder of the Irish fans I've met along the way. Their sense of humour, the craic, and also their generosity and inclusivity."

He said he believes the Irish really are the "best fans in the world".

Mr Maxwell also praised the people of England who helped him on his ride.

Mr Maxwell also praised the people of England who helped him on his cycle.

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