Earlier this month, 8 refugees and their Bike Project buddies set off on a 46-mile bike ride around London – not as some kind of arcane punishment, but for FUN.
Team Bike Project was invited to take part in the RideLondon-Surrey 46 through our partnership with Prudential’s ‘PruGOals’ campaign, which empowers young people to achieve their goals and helps them develop life skills.
The Bike Project CEO Jem Stein explains the method behind the pushy craziness.
Most of us take sport and exercise for granted, but for someone who’s not had access to that before, all the emotional and physical benefits that it brings is huge.”
“Some of them have never cycled before a year ago. Even a couple of months ago, some of them had only ever cycled a couple of miles at a time. To go from that to cycling 46 miles is pretty impressive. It’s transformative for these people.
In preparation for the big event many of the riders and their buddies completed several training rides. One such rider, Clarence, spoke about her experiences, saying:
The second training ride was really fun as we visited Charles Darwin’s house where he wrote most of his books. At the end of the day, we did about 30 miles and it didn’t feel like training as we took time to enjoy the countryside and a little picnic too.
These training rides were vital, not just in their preparation for the 46 mile ride but also in giving riders the confidence to explore new parts of London after the event. They were also invaluable in building riders’ confidence and strengthening the bond between them and their cycling partners.
Clarence’s RideLondon buddy, Nicola said:
I can’t say thank you enough to Clarence for continuing to inspire me throughout the training and on the ride itself. Although I was there to support her, it was her own determination, ambition (and ultimately speed) that saw her finish first out of all the women in our group! Very proud to be called her buddy and am looking forward to next year’s challenge of riding the 100miles with her!
Nicola and Clarence wait in anticipation at the start of RideLondon 2019.
Having completed the ride in record time for the Bike Project group, Clarence’s pride and passion were clear. Reflecting on what the ride meant to her she said:
It really meant a lot to me. During the ride, I felt like I was given wings as the eagle to soar above the sky. Wow! It was my very first sportive ride! I was over the moon! It actually gave me confidence to believe in myself the more that with the right form of empowerment, I can achieve greatness, I can be whoever I set my heart to be, I can be everything I want without limitation. I can do good to the planet!
The positive effect on all riders was overwhelming with many already planning on tackling the more gruelling 100 mile ride next year. On completing the ride, another of the riders, Walid, who is now volunteering as a bike mechanic in The Bike Project’s Deptford workshop said:
It was a great feeling to finish, We’re already talking about coming back next year and doing the 100. The feeling of giving up didn’t cross my mind once – I knew I could do it and I did it.
Made possible by the PruGOals campaign, this special event has built lasting connections between The Bike Project staff, volunteers and beneficiaries and has been instrumental in inspiring everyone in taking the next steps forward as an organisation.
For more photos of the event visit our Instagram page.
If you’re interested in taking part in next years RideLondon, we’ll be recruiting riders in the Autumn. Keep on eye on our twitter page to be the first to know!