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Biker gets on his blue velomobile for 600km charity cycle

Trip from Malin Head to Mizen Head will raise funds to help people with sight loss

Duane Phillips in his velomobile, training for his fundraising cycle in aid of NCBI over the Easter weekend. Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

A biking enthusiast is set to turn heads as he attempts to cycle in a novel way from Ireland’s top to toe to raise money to help those with sight loss.

Duane Phillips has given himself 48 hours to complete the journey from Malin Head to Mizen Head in his colourful velomobile. The trip, to be undertaken from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, seeks to raise funds for NCBI, a charity close to his heart after a friend went blind.

Mr Phillips, who is originally from Manchester in the UK, moved to Rathlogin, Co Kilkenny 10 years, at the height of the recession.

“I’ve 48 hours to do the trip but aiming to just start and just keep going. In theory I should be able to finish in less than 24 hours but if I come in in under 36 hours I’ll be happy.

“My friend Dave, who was also a workmate, went blind a couple of years ago, his eyesight wasn’t the best to begin with; then, after a gardening accident, he went completely blind which as you can imagine this seriously impacted on his life.”

‘Payback’

Mr Phillips said NCBI, Ireland’s national charity for those who deal with sight loss, helped his friend “come to terms with his disability. So as payback for looking after my friend I’m trying to raise a few quid for them during the 600km trip.”

Put it in electric assist mode, and what you have in reality is a single-seater electric car

Never one to shirk a challenge, he has taken part in many novel challenges, including travelling on a scooter along the Wild Atlantic Way to fundraise for Aoibheann’s Pink Tie charity. For this trip, he is using his blue WAW velomobile.

He said the contraption – named after its creator, Frederik Van De Walle – “arrived in late August and I’ve been out training in it every weekend”, causing some amusement on the roads of Kilkenny, Laois and Tipperary.

He believes the velomobile is “an ideal short-range commuting vehicle” for Ireland’s congested cities. “Put it in electric assist mode, which requires the minimal effort to crank the velomobile up to 25 km/h, and what you have in reality is a single-seater electric car.”

While he is hoping to raise up to €5,000 for the NCBI during the trip, it’s clear this won’t be his last. “My father is 74 years old, an engineer, and still rides round on a Kawasaki 1440 motorbike, and it’s from him that I’ve inherited his adventurous spirit.”

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Biker gets on his blue velomobile for 600km charity cycle

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