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Paul McQuaid has been working away at his River Cycles shop, Ushers Island, Dublin, repurposing donated bikes for Ukrainians all over the country. And now he needs your help

Former international rider and Rás Tailteann winner, Paul McQuaid, has supplied almost 2,500 repurposed bikes to Ukrainians since they began coming to Ireland after the invasion of their country by Russia last year.

And while those bikes have changed the lives of many seeking refuge, he now needs your help. McQuaid told stickybottle the demand for bikes from the Ukrainian community has not dissipated and is instead picking up.

“We’re getting calls and emails from people all over the country, the demand hasn’t eased at all,” he said. “As we send the bikes to people, they are telling their friends, the word keeps spreading, so we’re getting more and more requests all the time.”

He is now appealing to members of the cycling community, indeed anyone who can help, so he can get even more bikes to Ukrainians all over the country. While he has secured assistance from several quarters, he needs a supply of bikes to keep pace with demand.

And as he is fixing up the bikes for distribution to the Ukrainians nationally on his own, he is also looking for help from any bike mechanics would can pitch in and keep his efforts moving as he nears the completion of two years of work.

McQuaid is appealing for people with bikes they are not using to drop them off at his River Cycles shop at Usher’s Island on the southside of the Liffey in Dublin. He will then fix them up and match them with their new owners, with DPD transporting them for him.

He said he was also very thankful for the support he has received from businessman Denis O’Brien as well as Actavo CEO, Brian Kelly, and the Irish Road Cross. And while news of his efforts has spread – with the Dutch ambassador to Ireland asking to call in to see his operation this week – McQuaid stressed he needs donations of bikes.

“All I ask is that people WhatsApp me a picture of the bikes and once I see it on WhatsApp I’ll determine whether it’s restorable or not,” he said. “And, usually, even if a bike is really bad, there will be bits on it we can use. We’re taking bits of some bikes and putting them on other bikes every day here. So a bike would need to be really bad for me not to get some use out of it.

“People can drop the stuff off to me at the shop pretty much seven days a week, just call me or email me to get in touch. And because I’m doing this myself, and out of my own pocket, if there are any mechanics out there who can volunteer, who can give some of their time, that would be extremely helpful.

“About 50 per cent of the bikes we need are women’s bikes, about 30 per cent would be ‘tall teenagers’ bikes, and the rest is split between gents bikes and toddler bikes. We don’t need too many racing bikes. We want to get bikes to thousands more people so anyone with kids bikes, baby seats, BMXs, hybrids, mountain bikes, even tandems… please get them into us.”

McQuaid said many Ukrainians have been accommodated in hotels or other centres, sometimes up to 6-7km outside a town or village, where they are often stranded without transport. However, once they are supplied with bikes they can travel around much more freely and quickly, including to school.

On the day he spoke to stickybottle he had just sent 24 bikes to Achill Island. Another of his bikes went to a Ukrainian man in his 70s.

“He’d only come to Ireland and he’d just been treated for cancer, 74-years-old,” McQuaid explained. “He said he always cycled in Ukraine so we sorted him with a fantastic bike. He came in here to us, collected the bike and cycled it back to Naas. As I say, 74, had just beaten cancer and he cycles off to Nass, an epic man.

“We had another family – a woman and three kids – and the kids were walking to school 50 minutes but they have have the bikes they’re cycling. They’re even going the long way to and from school now, around a local lake. So the difference these bikes can make is huge.”

You can contact McQuaid on the mobile or via email – 086 265 6258, [email protected]. His bike shop is at 10 Ushers Island, Dublin 8.

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