Next Sunday (29th) I'll be joining hundreds of other cyclists to circumpedallate the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles, Lough Neagh. 87 miles, so it's not a killer, but I've been a bit slack in my training lately, so it's a challenge.
For the uninitiated, Lough Neagh is pretty big. It's twice the size of the Sea of Galilee, and the third largest lake in Europe, after Lake Geneva and Lake Constance. We have a wee boat down at Kinnego Marina near Lurgan, and on the rare occasions we can dump the kids and head out for a sail, it's marvellous. Lough Neagh is a haven for bird life (and flies). But this time I'll be cycling, not sailing.
I haven't been raising any sponsorship for this run, largely because I've been rather busy, but if you feel inspired to the root of your very soul by the thought of hundreds of punters moving in an orderly circuit of our national treasure, I would like you to consider donating to Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) and help them get badly-needed relief to the people of Pakistan who have been hit so badly by the recent floods - as well as to other very needy people around the world.
The other thing I would love people to do is to THINK for themselves. Try to identify one belief or opinion that you hold on the basis of *authority* - that someone has told you to think or believe, or that you've maybe read somewhere. Ask yourself: "is this TRUE?" Ask: "If I didn't have this particular authority telling me this is true, would I have any basis for believing it?", and: "Suppose my authority is *wrong* - how could I check whether it is *really* true?"
Freethought. It won't cost you anything but the fundamental underpinnings of your worldview. And "faith" and "sincerity" are dirt cheap anyway. It takes effort and bravery to subject your own beliefs to scrutiny and revision.
Oh, and I think there may be some places left on the bike ride - sign up and come along!
Last year my pals and I cycled in The Galilee, Northern Israel, to raise money for Nazareth Hospital Paediatric Department. We raised over £50,000 but we could use more! Nazareth is the largest Arab town in Israel; the people are lovely, and the kids are awesome. Nazareth also treats kids in the West Bank of Palestine who have very limited access to healthcare. They need your help! Go to my sponsorship page to find out more and see what you can do! Maybe even join us in 2017..?