Belfast Telegraph

It's mountain biker Annie (90), peddling the real benefits of cycling in Sperrins

Annie Slane says cycling has kept her in good health
Annie Slane says cycling has kept her in good health

By Laura Abernethy

Annie Slane has been cycling since she was eight.

Over 82 years later, she's still pedalling every day.

The 90-year-old from Broughderg has good eyesight, great hearing and all her own teeth - which she puts down to her daily bike ride.

She started as a child when she borrowed her next-door neighbour's bike while he was working, and taught herself to ride.

She explained: "When he was out working in the fields, I used to sneak across and borrow his bicycle and learn to ride by cycling up and down his lane.

"It was a man's bicycle and I was even smaller then than I am now, so it was a hard enough task.

Once I learned how to ride my sister Rose gave me my first bicycle and I still have it to this day."

When Annie was younger it was necessary to cycle to get around in the rural Sperrin Mountains, where she has always lived.

"It is so remote up here," she explained.

"There were no buses and there were hardly any cars, so we had to rely on our bicycles and not everyone had one.

"So a lot of the time everyone was borrowing each other's bikes."

She worked almost 20 miles away in Sixmilecross as a childminder, but cycling for over an hour through the rolling Sperrins was no problem for Annie.

She said: "When I worked in Sixemilecross I had to cycle there from Broughderg and come home once a month. Cycling was a necessity. We just had to do it, otherwise you would get nowhere and see no one."

Annie is now trying to inspire others to get on their bikes and experience the rolling mountains straddling counties Tyrone and Derry as part of the Cycle Sperrins initiative.

She said: "It's lovely to see people from France, Germany and Holland coming here. Seeing them appreciate what we get to see every day makes this place even more special.

"Everybody should get on their bicycles and start pedalling through the Sperrins. It's great for our tourism and it's great for a healthy body and a healthy mind.

"It's just right we share this beauty. It's been good to me. That's why I've still got my good looks! I have no pains in my legs, and, until the day I do, I'll continue to cycle every day - you never know, I might get even better looking!"

Belfast Telegraph


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