It’s more than just a bike ride. Mark Topley explains why the charity bike rides seem so popular at the moment.
This week, the UK dental world saw the completion of two high-profile cycling challenges.
I can’t remember a time when such a thing has happened, and the indications are that between the two, they have raised almost £90,000 (and counting) for four charities.
The two events were the 15 day ‘Five go Forth’ Lands End to John O’Groats cycle ride, involving a number of my good friends, raising money for Cancer Research UK, Brushup UK, and Bridge2aid.
The other was the fifth Straumann UK Charity Bike Ride.
Five days and 500 miles through some very tough cycling country in Italy, raising money for the Mouth Cancer Foundation.
I had the privilege of taking part in the fourth ride two years ago, which travelled from Montpellier to San Sebastian through the Pyrenees.
One of the things I love about both these events, (apart from the money raised for charity) is the way each has used business as a vehicle for doing good, and the fact that they are both accessible.
But why the popularity?
Cyclists from all backgrounds
Cycling used to be the purview of the 6ft lean machine who flew past you on a Sunday morning, but no longer.
For me, a (now) keen cyclist, it has been great to see more and more people of all shapes and sizes getting out on their bikes, enjoying the outdoors, getting fit and achieving great things.
I, myself, had never ridden a road bike before I started training for the Straumann bike ride two years ago.
Although I don’t ride nearly as often as I did in training that summer (carrying it on may have resulted in divorce proceedings), I love what the bike ride gave me.
And this accessibility is one of three reasons why I think the cycling event has become so popular.
Steve Booth, MD of Straumann UK, points to it being one of the success factors in the Dentists in Lycra event: ‘We have people doing this who are experienced cyclists, some at the top of UK amateur cycling.
‘But we also have people who have never ridden a bike before who are taking up this challenge up.
‘And we will open it up to all comers and everybody gets something different from it.
‘So I think part of the success is being open to doing that and encouraging people who want to do it for different reasons.’
Cycling events also tend to be a significant challenge.
Certainly the two that finished this week are not for the faint hearted, requiring months of training and a big dollop of resilience to complete.
Finally, I believe both events have been so successful because the causes they raised funds for connected at a deep personal level for the participants.
It was great to see the videos from Five go Forth as they talked to people from each charity about the impact the funds raised would make.
And Richard Porter’s presentation at the Dentists in Lycra launch was truly inspirational.
Both events are still fundraising, please dig deep, and if you fancy a challenge in the future, I am confident that there will be more where these two came from.