Coca-Cola Zero Bikes could not have chosen a better advocate for cycling than Tomás Mulqueen. He’s one of three avid cyclists who have volunteered to hop on a Coca-Cola Zero Bike and complete the 200k Cork to Galway Cycle that is taking place on June 19th and 20th.

Born in Cork, 40-year-old Tomás can’t recall a time before cycling.  “I don’t remember learning,” he says. “It seems as though there was never a time when I didn’t cycle.”

He has fond memories of his first bike. He got it for Christmas and it represented a gateway to the world for him.

“It was freedom,” he says. “Having that bike meant I was allowed off on my own for the first time. It’s when life really started for me.”

Tomás lived in the Mardyke area of Cork City as a child and he and his friends would spend hours cycling in the nearby park. As they grew up, many of his friends swapped bikes for cars but Tomás persisted in his love of cycling.

“I’ve always had a bike,” he says. “I used to commute to college here in Cork on a bike. I lived in London for five years and in Dublin for another five years and I never had a car. I only ever had a bike.”

There were many reasons why Tomás chose bikes over cars. There was his obvious love of cycling. There was the fitness element, in that he used his daily commute as a way to get exercise. There was also the convenience.

“It’s much easier to deal with traffic and parking on a bike and it’s quicker too,” he says. “Cyclists can weave through the stalled cars.”

He even thinks cycling is better than public transport as it’s more direct. On a bike, he can always take the straightest line between where he is and where he wants to be.

“There’s no reason not to choose cycling really,” he says, laughing.

Tomás’ reasons for taking part in the Cork to Galway Cycle, which is sponsored by Coca-Cola Zero Bikes, are just as considered as his reasons for cycling. The cycle is raising funds for Breakthrough Cancer Research and Tomás has his own personal motivation for fundraising for this charity.

“I was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 1999 and have been in remission since 2001,” he says.  “I’ve always wanted to give something back so it’s great to be able to raise money for an organization that is doing such brilliant research work here in Cork. Both my parents have had cancer too and they’ve always raised money for research. It’s a thing with my family. We do what we can to give back.”

Tomás is also excited about completing the cycle while riding a Coca-Cola Zero Bike. He has made occasional use of the bikes since the scheme was introduced in Cork.

“I messed around with them a lot when they launched,” he says. “They’re very different but very comfortable. They’re heavy but they’ve got great gearing. I’m looking forward to cycling one to Galway.”

He hopes that the Cork to Galway Cycle and the visibility of Coca-Cola Zero Bikes in Cork, Limerick, Galway, Dublin and Belfast will encourage more people to cycle. He knows that people are often afraid of cycling, especially in the cities, but he’s keen to reassure them that it’s much safer than they realize.

“A lot of the dangers are perceived dangers,” he says. “Your own fear is the real barrier. I’ve noticed more space being given to cyclists by cars in recent years, which means the roads have become much safer for cyclists. All you have to do is take care of yourself, obey the rules of the road and focus on what you’re doing.”

Tomás finishes on a positive note. “Just do it,” he urges. “I promise you’ll enjoy it!”