“I figured if a 73-year-old, fat guy could ride 400 kilometers, that would inspire people to do something; so that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
That was the poking-fun line cyclist Ian MacLean used, as he addressed a crowd gathered at the Maritime Inn in Antigonish, on Father’s Day.
MacLean was in the midst of the Ride for Duart [Castle], which made its way through Pictou County, and part of Antigonish County, during the June 15-16 weekend. On the morning of June 17, the ride started out for Cape Breton.
“Tidnish Cross Roads, right on the border of New Brunswick, that’s where I started from and I’m going to Washabuck, Cape Breton. So I’m just over halfway now,” MacLean said, as images of the castle, past and present, rotated on a screen in the gathering room at the inn.
He talked more about the restoration work for the castle, located on the Isle of Mull in Scotland.
“I’ve been involved for the Duart Castle restoration board for a number of years and we’ve done really well,” he said. “Historic Scotland has put in a lot of money, the family themselves has put all they could, and we’ve raised a lot of money from MacLeans and other people around the world, but like any project, after a while enthusiasm wanes a little bit and people aren’t quite as excited.
“So it started in 2014 and of the seven stages that need to be done, we’ve finished five. We’re on the sixth but people are starting to get a little less interested, so I’m just trying to kick start it again.”
The ride includes stops along the way to get the message across and drum up support. Such was the case Sunday evening in Antigonish and the previous day in Pictou County.
“Where we were yesterday it’s bike week; so they had what they call a Tartan Ramble which is a bunch of people biking together, I was involved in that,” MacLean said. “They all have to get dressed up in tartans, and yesterday morning, at the Ship Hector, we had an event. And last night with the Gaelic Society of New Glasgow.
“So we had events in Pictou, New Glasgow, we stopped in River John before that, the museum there, and the Wallace Museum … we’re doing that all the way through.”
George MacLean is part of the support team. He rides in a vehicle accompanying Ian.
“We really appreciate these little gifts and big gifts we’re getting all the way along. We’re having a lot of fun and he is doing all of the work,” George said, eliciting laughter from his Antigonish audience.
Those wishing to support can do so by visiting the website clanmacleanatlantic.org and following the appropriate links. There is also a mail option where checks can be made out to CMAC (Clan Maclean Atlantic Canada) noting Ride for Duart, and sent to Basil MacLean, Treasurer, 6775 Highlands Rd., Christmas Island, NS, B1T 1L8.