Irvine man’s round Arran cycle challenge

Published in the Daily Record on June 9, 2016, the Irvine Times (with errors!) and the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald (with more errors!) on June 8, 2016.

Around Arran four times before the last ferry home

Article and images by Iain Graydon

An Irvine man intends to cycle around the 55-mile coast road on the Isle of Arran, not once—but four times in a single day to raise funds for North Ayrshire Foodbanks.

Chris Blakely (43) will start his challenge as soon as he pedals off the first ferry arriving at Brodick at 07:55 on Friday 17th June. He aims to complete four circuits before catching the last sailing back to Ardrossan at 21:40. That adds up to a total cycling distance of 220 miles in under 13 hours and 45 minutes.

Chris Blakely
Image ©Iain Graydon

Chris became serious about cycling after suffering a severe head injury and fractured skull in 2012. As part of his rehabilitation Chris became involved with the Dirrans Head Injury Centre where he was introduced to bicycle maintenance, eventually earning a bronze certificate in the subject at college.

In 2014 Chris set himself the goal of cycling around Arran twice, non-stop and succeeded in doing so. A chance encounter with former Kilmarnock FC Captain, Ray Montgomerie proved to be a turning point in Chris’s cycling ambitions. Chris says: “I met Ray on the ferry on the way home and told him about my injury and the cycle journey I had just completed. Ray suggested that I should join the Fullarton Wheelers Cycle Club in Irvine and he put me in touch with them.”

Since joining the club, Chris has taken part in the Pedal for Scotland Big Belter which is a 110-mile circuit from Glasgow, through the Southern Uplands to Edinburgh.

“I completed the circuit and then had to cycle home from Edinburgh to Irvine,” said Chris. “Unfortunately I took a wrong turning on the way back so by the time I got home I had covered over 200 miles that day—roughly the same distance as it is around Arran four times.”

Chris Blakely plans to cycle around Arran four times to raise money for North Ayrshire Foodbanks.
Chris Blakely plans to cycle around Arran four times to raise money for North Ayrshire Foodbanks.
Image © Iain Graydon

Chris is full of praise for the people and organisations who have supported him in his recovery and says he now feels he want to do something to support the community. He said: “I’m aiming to raise £300 and intend to donate it to the food bank as I know they provide a vital service.”

North Ayrshire Foodbanks will use the donation to help support its Make A Meal Of It (MAMOI) project which provides meals to children during the school holiday periods.

Anyone who wants to lend their support to Chris can do so by visiting his online fundraising page.

Chris Blakely
Image © Iain Graydon

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