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Ballymena cyclist completes 280-mile journey for mental health

Ballymena man Connor McCullough

Ballymena man Connor McCullough

Late last month, Connor McCullough embarked on an extraordinary journey from his home in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, to the Bealach na Ba pass in the Scottish Highlands.

The gruelling trip spanned approximately 280 miles and climbed to a peak of 2,000 feet above sea level.

Connor's passion for cycling began 12 years ago in an unlikely way. As a school kid who forgot his games kit and had no interest in sports or fitness, he reluctantly joined a cycling club through his church.

"I started off completely busted after lower distances, thinking, ‘how am I ever going to do this?’" Connor recalled. "But the fitness and the mileage came in time. Now, 12 years later, I'm still going!"

His first attempt at the Bealach na Ba pass was in 2013, a challenging experience that he described as a "baptism of fire." Despite the difficulty, it was an unforgettable adventure, though tinged with sadness.

"My friend who introduced me to the cycling club sadly died by suicide a few years later. It impacted me significantly, and I faced my own mental health challenges through grief, stress, anxiety, and low mood.”

Ballymena man Connor McCullough

To cope, Connor turned to talking therapy and cycling, which he found almost meditative.

"Getting out on the bike, whether alone or with friends, was hugely beneficial for my mental health. It was the only time I was single-minded and focused on one thing—my speed, my navigation, my cadence. I was just thinking about cycling."

Determined to revisit the route and raise money for local mental health services, Connor cycled from Ballymena to the Bealach na Ba pass, covering roughly 280 miles and climbing 17,000 feet.

"I always said I wanted to do the route again—see if I could do it faster and raise some money for a local mental health charity. And no... I was not cycling home!"

In memory of his friend Davy, who introduced him to cycling and took him on that unforgettable trip to Bealach na Ba, Connor has raised over £1,500 for AWARE NI, the depression charity working to support people with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder through their services including their network of peer-led support groups.

Lesley Wright, Community Fundraising Officer at AWARE NI, expressed her gratitude:

"We were incredibly thankful to Connor for taking on this monumental challenge. His dedication and effort not only helped raise vital funds but also brought much-needed awareness to mental health issues.

“Challenges like this made a significant difference, enabling us to continue our support services and reach more people in need through our network of peer-led support groups and educational programmes."

Connor completed his mission to make a difference. Donations can still be made at:


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