Danielle’s cycling challenge
Earlier this month I took part in RideLondon, a 100-mile cycling event based on the cycle route created for the 2012 London Olympics.
I decided to sign up for RideLondon in support of Emmaus Lambeth. I got to know Emmaus through a fundraising challenge I took part in with the Civil Service Fast Stream and I volunteered with the Lambeth community earlier this year. Having met and worked with the companions and staff, I have seen and heard firsthand the positive impact that Emmaus has on people’s lives. I was so impressed by the organisation that I wanted to continue to support them.
I did most of my training with my friend Nicola. She is a more experienced cyclist than me and taught me lots about cycling etiquette and the importance of eating lots of jelly babies! We made the most of the miles we needed to cover. As part of our training we cycled from Egham to Oxford (50 miles!) to visit our friends Prim and Matt who live there.
On the day, I was excited but also nervous about what it would be like to cycle with 25,000 other cyclists. There was a great atmosphere at the start line, everyone was eating bananas and sausage rolls and chatting about how they had (or hadn’t!) trained for the big day. Once I was over the start line, my nerves were replaced by delight as we all zoomed through central London, totally free from traffic and greeted by people cheering around every corner.
Getting Leith Hill done was my first major milestone. About halfway through I got a text from my boyfriend, Tom, saying that I had just gone over my fundraising target of £500. That was a huge boost! After that was the second big climb, Box Hill, and then it was pretty plain sailing back through Wimbledon and along the Thames before one final power push to cycle as fast as I could up the Mall to the finish line.
After all the training and the fundraising, what did I take away from the experience? Mainly, a reminder that the people of Britain are great, as almost every street we cycled down was lined with people cheering us on. There were kids with lemonade stands offering jelly babies, the roads had messages of encouragement written in chalk that said "keep pedaling!" and "don’t fall off!" and town centres buzzed with live bands. I cycled past one family who were dancing in their drive way to “Do the Locomotion” and having that tune in my head kept me going for the next three miles.
I would encourage anyone to have a go at cycling - it’s a great way to get outside and it’s easy on the knees. I would also urge people to support their local Emmaus community. I am proud to have completed RideLondon and to have fundraised for Emmaus and Emmaus Lambeth. I know firsthand that the money is going to a fantastic cause.