With the Covid-19 restrictions in place, the Prudential RideLondon cycling festival wasn’t able to go ahead this year, instead being replaced by “My Prudential RideLondon,” which has taken place country-wide. Operating on a more individual basis, by all accounts, the event has been a roaring success, with participants cycling 112,939 kilometres in the first weekend alone – almost three times round the earth! Originally scheduled to run for the weekend 15th-16th of August, the event garnered such attention and fanfare, due to its newfound charitable outlook, that it was extended to run for that weekend and the week following. It ended on the 23rd of August, running for a total of nine days! The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the UKs charities, with the sector as a whole facing a ten-billion-pound funding gap for the year and one in ten facing bankruptcy in, the face of cancelled events and a dearth of available funds. They could certainly use the boost, and people have stepped up, bigtime, to help out. Let’s have a look at some of the great stories that have come out of the event so far:
Florin Diaconu, a dyed-in-the-wool Marie Curie devotee and committed Community Fundraiser, is riding through Kent with his son, Tudor. Nicholas Harvey, of Arundel, West Sussex, completed 46 miles from his front doorstep to Shoreham Port and back again, sponsoring Seafarers UK. Alice Dalgleish, from Newcastle, did 10k on roller skates in two hours! (Put me on skates for two hours and you’ll find me in exactly the same place I started out. I’ll stick to cycling!) She raised vital funds for NEA (National Energy Action), providing warmth to poorer homes in the winter months. There are countless more stories of people doing their bit – either on a set of wheels themselves, with a bottle of Veloflow at their hip, or chipping in from wallets and purses.
One story in particular, however, stood right out to me. Riding for the Downs Syndrome Association (DSA), Daniel Geeson, a young man from South Wales who lives with the condition, was able to raise almost six hundred pounds on his tandem bike. He rode the Newport to Brecon canal towpath - nineteen miles in total! The lad said, on his Virgin Money Giving fundraising page; “I am trying to raise a few pounds for the Downs Syndrome Association who help happy special people like me. Because of the blinking virus all charities need a bit of help, so I have signed up to a cycling challenge. (…) My Dad does the steering, but I do all the hard work on the back, ha ha. I like to keep fit by using my cross trainer nearly every day and cycling is another great way to lose weight and stay fit. Thank you for your support!” A textbook example of all the good that has been done with this event, also proving that anyone can get involved, no matter who, or we, you are. Daniel hits the nail on the head by raising money for an important charity and encouraging people to get riding and stay fit at the same time. They say that every cloud has a silver lining and the success of this event is a lining silver as ever, in the midst of a global pandemic. Hopefully, it’s back on next year!