In 2010, Rob Forbes cycled 20184km from Cirencester, England to Rustenberg, South Africa, raising £23,205 for Re~Cycle. Riding a bike and raising some money is fast becoming Britain’s favourite sport. Not sure how to do so? Our avid cyclers at Re~Cycle have put together a guide on how to organise and complete (and rock) a sponsored charity bike ride. Here’s to doing good, new friends, and adventures on the road.
Choose your charity
Is there a cause that drives you? Like, sending unwanted bicycles to Africa so that children can go to school and farmers can transport their goods to the market? (PS if changing lives burns deeply within you, then come ride for Re~Cycle!. Or fighting heart disease, improving children’s wellbeing, conserving whales and dolphins? If you’re looking for a UK charity, Charity Choice is a directory of over 160000 charities. Otherwise, here’s a list of international organisations to start you off.
Pick your type of charity bike ride
Your choice of sponsored bike ride will affect how much planning to do. There are organised rides specific to certain charities, and open organised rides where you choose which charity you ride for (e.g. London-Brighton bike ride, London-Paris ride). In organised rides, your route has been planned. Support is readily available, sometimes including accommodation, training and fundraising. You can also ride independently for your charity-of-choice, such as Rob above. Or Andrew Deacon’s upcoming 500km ride for Re~Cycle. Last, if you want to raise awareness of an issue for which there is no charity, you can ride independently.
Pick your route
If you’re riding independently, then you need to pick your own route. The key here is to be realistic- choose something you can complete. Consider factors like your ability, type of bike and terrain. You can use routes that are common, such as the 50-mile 1-day London-Brighton ride, 237-mile 3-day London-Paris ride, or parts of the Tour De France route. Like how several lovely souls from Transport for London raised £10,500 for Re~Cycle by biking the 3293-mile London-Cantebury Tour De France route, braving four hill climbs! Or see Sustran for more inspiration on cycle routes in the UK, and Cycle Route for international ones.
The easiest way to raise funds is by setting up an online donation page (we like Virgin Giving as we get more money, and JustGiving for better social media integration). They reclaim GiftAid on donations, so your charity-of-choice gets more money. If you’re the meticulous type who wants to compare which site takes the least commission, then roll up your sleeves and compare these data points:
Toot your horn on social media to tell everyone about your charity bike ride and how to donate. Perhaps you’ll inspire someone to join you, and together you’ll raise even more money. Or perhaps you’ll pull a little team to cheer you on along the way, with food, bicycle repairs and smiles.
THE NUTS & BOLTS
Know your route
Familiarity will ensure a smoother ride because you’re more confident. Recce the area, experiment riding loops or climb some hills. If you can’t because you are riding to another country, then learn from the top tips of others who have done that route before.
There’s lot to think about when you’re riding- traffic, signalling, and avoiding potholes. If you’re feeling a little rusty, then look to BikeRight for a refresher. Here’s some quick tips that go a long way:- [Acronym: HARSH PALM]
Assertive Positioning - Make sure drivers can see you (consider blind spots!) and they know your intentions.
Ride in a group - The bigger the road presence, the likelier you’ll be seen. Also, you’ll look out for each other
Signal - Make drivers aware of your intentions. Give plenty of warning in a safe manner.
High-Viz - Make yourself visible with High Visibility jackets, reflector strips and lights. Want more cool ideas?
Potholes - Look out for them and avoid them so you don’t swerve last minute. (Otherwise other road users don’t have time to react)
Anticipation - Anticipate what others are doing; make sure they can do so for you too.
Listen - Be aware of what’s going on.
Medical - Learn how to diagnose and treat roadside injuries here (link to come)
Prepping your kit
Your kit will vary depending on your ride. Fundamentals include luggage (think rucksack/saddlebags/panniers), multitools, a lightweight pump, clip-in pedals (for long rides), a comfortable saddle and terrain-friendly tyres. Pack light, bring waterproofs, and leave space for food and drink supplies. Other essentials are a simple first-aid kit, medicines (paracetamol, plasters, tummy medicine), cellphone. . and tissues. (See here (http://www.re-cycle.org/resources/kit-sponsored-ride) for a better idea.)
You’ll need to prepare yourself physically. Start by knowing your bicycle intimately- ride it everywhere, especially when fully loaded. Ensure that your bicycle is fully-serviced (down to the batteries in your head torch), and learn to perform emergency fix-its like replacing broken spokes and repairing punctures. The longer your bike ride, the more you’ll need to train. Consider structured training plans (see British Cycling Federation https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/knowledge/training-plans), or cycling classes by Rolling Dynamics which prepare serious cyclers for riding events. And, remember to prep your body by feeding it well (see http://www.scienceinsport.com/our-expertise/cycling-nutrition-guide/ for top nutrition tips).
If it’s a long ride and you won’t be home by the end of the day, then you can’t forget accommodation. Of course there’s the standard AirBnb, but Beds For Cyclists was set up for people like you.
THE RIDE ITSELF
The night before
Have you ticked everything off your checklist? Remember the things we forget, like toothbrushes and tent pegs. And, eliminate the things you don’t really need. Then you’re ready to have a good night’s sleep.
The day itself
Wake up early enough, and treat yourself to an energy-rich breakfast. The British Cycling Federation recommends porridge, eggs and bananas.
Our minds wander about all the time, and bike rides are no exception. Anxieties about performance, pace and safety can sometimes lead to frustration and stress. Psychologist Perpetua Neo has these tips: (1) Focus on your breath mindfully (2) Bring awareness to any sensations or thoughts you are experiencing, don’t get upset with yourself, and bring your attention back to your breath (3) Deal with the next mile as you come to it.
Stay hydrated and stretch before and after.
And with this, you’re ready to rock your ride.