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  • Northside East

Cycle to raise awareness of incurable condition

Tuesday, 14th June, 2016 8:00am

Story by Pat O'Rourke
Cycle to raise awareness of incurable condition

Barry Rice shows Taoiseach Enda Kenny his specially adapted bike at Government Buildings. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

Cycle to raise awareness of incurable condition

Barry Rice shows Taoiseach Enda Kenny his specially adapted bike at Government Buildings. PHOTO: DARREN KINSELLA

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NORTHSIDE man, who has an incurable condition, will attempt to raise awareness of the disorder through a major fundraising cycle this weekend. 

In January 2013, Barry Rice (35), from Ayrfield, was diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), a neuromuscular disorder that causes progressive damage to the nervous system resulting in the loss of muscle control.

This Saturday, June 18, in Ashbourne, Barry is holding his third annual Cycle Ataxia event and is hoping approximately 800 cyclists will take part following the successes of 2014 and 2015.  

Four separate groups will take to the roads in Dublin and Meath for 13k, 25k, 48k and 110k cycles. 

Barry, a father of two girls – Ellen (3) and Isabelle (1) - said he has a great network of family and friends helping with the event.

The organising committee comprises members of Ratoath Wheelers Cycling Club, Ash Burners Cycling Club, his uncle, Dermot Rice, and a college friend, Peter Hally. 

“They have been a fantastic support,” said Barry. 

“In 2014 we got 275 people to take part, last year it went up to 517 and this time we’re aiming to get around 800 which would be a great achievement.”

Barry’s tireless efforts in establishing and promoting his own fundraising cycle are truly commendable and it hasn’t gone unnoticed at the highest office in Government.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny met Barry at the Dáil last Thursday to wish him well. 

“As the Taoiseach is a keen cyclist, we were hoping to get him to take part but it wasn’t possible due to his busy schedule,” said Barry. 

“That would have been a major coup. However, I’m very grateful for his support and the fact that he took time out to meet me.”

Educated in Architectural Technology, Barry has worked with his father Brendan and sister Sarah in the home shutter business, ‘ShutterCo’. He works from an office in his house which allows him the flexibility required to work with his symptoms.

“I am able to work but am restricted in what I can do,” he said. “Once I have a desk, computer and phone, I can do clerical work and accounts.

“I used to work in the factory but can’t anymore. I have to cut my cloth to suit my needs.” 

Following his diagnosis, Barry had to face the possible onset of cardiac problems caused by Ataxia. 

To counter this he started going to the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) gym in Clontarf and began using an exercise bike. 

This gave Barry a desire to participate in outdoor activities. He discovered his solution on YouTube one day when he saw an American Ataxian (Kyle Bryant) using a recumbent tricycle - a three wheeled cycle with a bucket seat. 

Barry saw this as a great opportunity for a bit of freedom and found a cheap second-hand trike on DoneDeal. 

His first ventures were “painful and exhausting” but he is now a regular feature on the cycle path from Clontarf to Howth. 

On his tricycle, he has participated in many charity cycles, including a staggering one-day, 215-kilometre cycle from Dublin to Galway in aid of the Irish Wheelchair Association.

Barry has since graduated from his starter trike, to a new Catrike which was awarded to him by FARA USA. 

Humbled and inspired by the work of Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), Barry has already raised enough funds to purchase six trikes for other Ataxians.  

“It’s very empowering for Ataxians to have these recumbent trikes,” he added. 

“I will continue to work towards buying more adaptive recycling equipment, as well as raising funds for FARA’S research into the condition.”   

•If you would like to support Barry this Saturday, registration for the cycle, is open until Friday (June 17). Visit www.cycleataxia.ie ;

The 110k begins at 8.30am and the 13k, 25k and 48k all start at 9am.  

Barry Rice

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