90-year-old cyclist urges tourists to ‘get on yer bike’ in the rustic Sperrins
By Eleanor McGillie
A 90-YEAR-old woman with good eyesight, great hearing and all of her own teeth says she puts her healthy physique and good looks down to the fact she continues to cycle in the Sperrin Mountains every day.
Annie Slane, who is one of nine children, said growing up in the Sperrins and being surrounded by such beauty was a key driver for her passion for pedal pushing – that and of course it was the only way to get around when she was growing up.
Annie, who is pictured at the launch of the Cycle Sperrins initiative at Broughderg Tourism Centre, said cycling in the Sperrins is a pretty special experience and says, until bad pains in her legs stop her from cycling, she will still continue to do it every day.
Speaking after the launch of Cycle Sperrins, a tourism led initiative aimed at attracting touring cyclists from across the globe, Annie said the Sperrins is a place which ought to be shared with the rest of the world.
She said: “I started cycling when I was eight. The farmer next door to us always kept his bicycle lying under the window. 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.
“But once I learned how to ride my sister Rose gave me my first bicycle and I still have it to this day.”
But as much as cycling remains a passion for Annie it was very much a necessity for people living in the Sperrins back in the day.
“But sure there was no other way to get around in those days,” said Annie. “It is so remote up in the Sperrins. 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 others’ bikes.
“I used to work in Sixemilecross as a child minder so 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 said she has lived in the Sperrin Mountains all of her life and says it’s a place definitely worth sharing.
“This place is special. Everyone sees something different from the next person. The mountains are rustic and the colours of the landscape continue to make people watch in awe. I still do even I’ve been looking at it every day for my whole life,” she said.
“It’s lovely to see people from France, Germany and Holland coming here. Seeing them appreciate what we get to see everyday 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 so far. That’s why I’ve still got my good looks. I have no pains in my legs yet, and, until the day I do – I will continue to cycle in the Sperrins every day and, you’d never know, I might just get even better looking.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- The Cycle Sperrins Consortium is made up of the following tourism businesses: Far and Wild, Rachel’s Kitchen (Eglinton), 54 Main Street (Claudy), Tamnagh Foods (Park), Ballynasollus Cottage (Plumbridge), Butterlope Farm (Clougherny), Bradkeel Social Farm (Glenelly), Gortin Hostel (Gortin), Broughderg Tourism Centre (Broughderg), An Teach Glas (Tirkane)and Benone Glamping (Benone).
- For further information or interview requests please contact Eleanor McGillie at MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569. PR Northern Ireland | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK | Brand Journalism Experts | Tourism PR