Thinking about cycling across the UK for charity? You need to read Nick and Ally’s tips
Nick Styles and Ally Syme are no strangers to epic cycle trips across countries. Between them they’ve cycled the 3 UK peaks, cycled across the United States of America, and done John O’Groats to Land’s End- twice! For their next challenge, they decided to complete the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 taking place on 31st July, raising money for Worldwide Cancer Research.
Cycling is a great way to raise money for charity, but requires a lot of hard work to avoid injury and make the most out of your trip. We asked Nick and Ally to share their top three tips for cycling and fundraising success.
1. Push the (bike) out.
“We needed to find a way to get down to London to start the race. We asked ourselves, why take a plane, train or car down when you could cycle to the starting line? With this in mind, we decided to cycle down to London on a three day adventure before starting the 100 mile road race to Surrey. That means we’ll be riding 600 miles in 6 days.
We’re using a support driver, our friend Brian Hawkins. We’d recommend getting a friend to help you as part of a support team to transport luggage and equipment, otherwise make sure you travel light and be prepared for all kinds of weather.
Your bike should be fully serviced and tested before heading out on any trip- there is nothing worse than being stuck with a broken bike miles from the nearest town. You need to have energy drinks and snacks on you at all times. When cycling, you burn calories much faster than normal. It may feel like you are eating way more than you should, but that’s why you have to do in order to keep up with your bodies’ energy output.”
2. Don’t underestimate the generosity of family, friends and colleagues.
According to the Charities Aid Foundation, the UK has been ranked as Europe’s most generous nation in terms of charity giving. Inevitably, this means that there is always a friend, family member or colleague raising money through an event and pleading on their Facebook page for donations. This can make fundraising seem daunting at times, especially when so many people are competing for donations to reach their target for charity. Nick reassured us that we can always turn to family and friends for support.
“After I told my colleagues and friends about this trip, I soon received an anonymous £500 donation. I couldn’t believe it. It turned out to be from my fellow RAF officer Murray Simpson, who had unfortunately lost both parents to cancer. He had taken a collection after their funerals, but couldn’t decide which charity to donate the money to. When he found out about Worldwide Cancer Research, a charity determined to fight all kinds of cancer, there was no doubt in his mind where he would give it.
We wanted to keep costs minimal along the route to raise as much money as possible, so I contacted my army and RAF networks to get free accommodation all along the route down to London. If you’re planning a cycling route and you don’t plan to camp, just ask your friends and family for tips on accommodation or appeal to stay with friends of friends, you’d be surprised how up for hosting people can be.”
3. Make training part of your every day.
“You can’t leave training until the end of your day when you get home from work knackered, you have to integrate the training into your day. We recommend cycling to work every day. A cycle trip such as the one we’re doing is never going to be easy, and you have to train for it as far in advance as possible. It’s a good idea to add an extra leg to your commute. For example, when travelling between Dundee and Fife, we would go home via Perth just to add a little extra mileage to our journey.
Tell your work about your trip, and maybe some colleagues who go the same route can join you on the commute. The RAF are very supportive of us, especially because it’s raising money for cancer research projects.
Cancer isn’t something that has, thankfully, affected our family and friends but it’s something that always touches people in some way, directly or indirectly. It would be amazing if cancer was eliminated in our grandchildren’s lifetime, or their children’s lifetime.”
Ride London is sold out this year, but you can get in early and sign up for a 2017 Ride London-Surrey 100 charity place by emailing RebeccaD@worldwidecancerresearch.org, or calling 07715 074 305 to inquire about a charity place.