Iraj Maghounaki

Iraj Cycling from Oxford to Tehran

Fundraising for Oxfordshire Mind
raised of £10,000 target
by 232 supporters
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Oxfordshire Mind

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We work in Oxfordshire's local communities to help people with mental health problems


Since completing my first cycling event in 2015, it has been my dream to cycle from Oxford to Tehran. 

Over the past 6 years I have been looking for the "right" time, to be free from work, sorting out other commitments in my life to enable me to start this journey. However, we never know what life has in store for us around each corner, even for a person as fit and active like me. 

In March 2018, I felt unwell.  It felt  like something unknown had happened inside my brain. After a  week of scans and tests, the doctors couldn't find anything wrong so I was given some pain killers for a few days and was asked to rest. 

A week later I went through an episode of hallucination and unconsciousness. I was taken to hospital and to prevent further damage to my brain, doctors put me in induced coma. I was held between life and death and no one knew if I could wake up again. On 21 of March, the first day of spring and Iranian New Year, I woke up and the first thing I asked my doctor was if I could go for my dream cycling to Tehran by August (2018)! and the answer was an obvious no! The reason for my illness remained unknown till today. 

Determine to continue living a healthy life, I left hospital much calmer, less stressed and rushing to do the "stuff" with a different attitude towards life. I had experienced my death and how that would look. I realised the important thing is the memories we leave behind for our love ones and the people we know and how they will remember us. Just live our life fully with no harm to others and no regrets. I also realised how our mental health is important not only for us but for future generations and society as a whole.

I had started studying psychology a little before I fell ill, mostly for self-development and insight but also to help and support others and make a difference. After my recovery I decided to expand my studies further towards counselling, in order to dedicate the rest of my life to helping people with mental health issues. I am at the beginning of this journey.

Cycling has helped me with my mental health journey. When I ride, I feel as free as a bird and my mind is calmer and more focussed.

The first time that I rode a bike, I was 9 years old and in year 3 at primary school. My father promised that if my mum gave birth to a boy, he would buy me a bicycle!  He had a 24" Raleigh bicycle which he would ride to work, carrying everything from his heavy work tools, to groceries in shopping baskets and even to carrying me and my siblings around as the means of transport. One morning while my mum was in hospital, I was sitting outside of our house and saw him coming on his bike carrying a brand new bicycle on his shoulder. The journey from town to our house was at least 6 kilometres. He had carried the bike all the way. His dream of having another son had come true; my mum had given birth to my little brother and I had my lovely green Hercules bicycle, made all the way in England, as my present! I treasured that bike for 6 years, but one day it was stolen from my high school. I had locked it up but it had been taken while I was in the classroom. Though my first beautiful green bicycle had been stolen, my love for the freedom and adventure of riding a bicycle could never be taken away. 

 I would also like to encourage others to see that age is not an obstacle; we just have to be active and have a healthy mind and body. We need to change our life style by being active and keeping fit in order to live beautiful lives.

After being released from hospital, it took me 3 months of physiotherapy to fully recover and to once again join my Oxford Cycling Club and ride our regular Sundays. 

three years after,  at the age of 67, I feel I am ready to start my journey on 12th of June 2021.

The distance between Oxford to Tehran is 5500 km (3500miles) and depending on circumstances it would take 2 to 3 month to complete. 
My route after crossing the Channel will pass through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Hungry, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey and finally Iran.
Although I am going on this journey for personal reasons and to tick it off of my bucket list, I feel that as human-beings we are all interconnected to the universe and each other; so whatever we do, even at personal level, has an impact on everyone around us. This is why I would like to connect this personal dream, goal and activity to a good cause. I would like to invite anyone who is able, to join me on this journey by making donations to the Mind, a great charity close to my heart doing incredible work to raise awareness and improve services for mental health.

 Mental health is becoming even more important than physical health because it is often hidden or less obvious than an afflicting physical issue. It is affecting more people from different age group and all walks of life, especially during this pandemic. Knowing how our mind could affect our body, we might need to re-phrase "healthy body, healthy mind" to  "healthy mind, healthy body".

About the charity

Oxfordshire Mind

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 261476
1 in 4 of us will have a mental health problem at some point in our lives. We can help. Oxfordshire Mind provides help, support & information to anyone affected by mental health problems. We have services all over the county, bringing support & advice to people in our local communities.

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