Refugees Riding London

On Sunday 4 August, Iranian refugee Mahbube will cycle the furthest she’s ever cycled, taking part in the RideLondon 46 mile sportive through the closed streets of London and Surrey.

RideLondon is a weekend festival of cycling for the whole spectrum of riders, from elite professionals to family day-trippers and everyone in between – including refugees like Mahbube, who were given their first bike by The Bike Project.

It’s been a long journey for Mahbube, from her childhood in Iran to the start line of RideLondon in the Queen Elizabeth Park. “I want a challenge in my life,” Mahbube says. “That’s why, when I heard about RideLondon, I had to sign up.”

Mahbube arrived in London as an asylum seeker 10 months ago and a friend quickly recommended The Bike Project to help her save money on transport costs. “When I went to get a bike from The Bike Project, my first reason at that time was money,” she says.

With government financial support of just £37.75 per week, Mahbube couldn’t afford to keep spending money on bus fares. “I needed to save for food and clothes. That’s why I was thinking it’s a good idea to have a bike so I can travel without any cost.”

After getting her bike, Mahbube started to volunteer at our workshop as a mechanic. “When I went to get my bike, I asked the mechanics if they needed someone to work for them.”

Now she comes once a week and helps fix bikes for other refugees. It’s thanks to ace mechanics like Mahbube that we recently managed to donate our 5000th bike to a refugee.

“The bicycle is something to make me more strong and more confident,” Mahbube says. “It gives me more confidence and I try to use my bike every day, when I go to work or for shopping.”

Training for the long miles of RideLondon has already challenged Mahbube’s cycling skills. “Last week, I went to Richmond Park with a friend. We rode 30 miles together, but after I said bye-bye to my friend I rode until I did 40 miles.”

That ride was the furthest she’d ever cycled, but on Sunday Mahbube will need to go 6 miles further. Does she reckon she’ll make it all the way from the Olympic Park to the cheering crowds on The Mall? “Yes, I’m optimistic!” she says, laughing.

Mahbube’s got one more training ride planned before the big day, an epic cycle from her friend’s house in South London to the beauty parlour where she works in Ilford, and then looping back to her own house in Woolwich after work.

“I think that’s around 40 miles,” she says. “This is my plan – if I’m not too tired from work!”

Mahbube is a confident young woman, throwing herself into life in a strange new city. So what’s next? “I want to run a marathon,” she says. “This is my dream.”


If you’d like to support the wonderful people raising money for The Bike Project by doing ridiculous cycling feats like Mahbube, then head over to our JustGiving home page and chuck them a tenner.

They’re going to need every encouragement when the hills hit! Thanks 😀

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