Provisional Dates 8th – 13th September 2022
In 2018 I organised a bike ride from London to Paris with friends and strangers from the KBB (Kitchen Bathrooms & Bedrooms) industry to raise money for Sanitation First. It is an incredible charity that helps improve the lives of hundreds and thousands of people by improving their sanitation. The outcome was incredible! Pretty much everyone who joined me on that trip has badgered me ever since to organise another one, and if you take a look through the photos of the previous ride you can see why.
Of course we couldn’t just repeat the same trip, we had to think of somewhere new. Brussels is the political capital of Europe, and as we all know, one of the most beautiful too. To get there we will cycle through picturesque villages, beautiful historic European cities, and even find some time to visit the beaches of Dunkirk.
First though, why am I doing this? Quite simply to ensure that the charity Sanitation First, who do incredible work across India and other countries, can make more progress in their drive to provide valuable sanitation to those that don’t have the luxury that we enjoy. Let’s be honest, that sentence sounds a bit lame on it’s own and I could easily write a 1,000 words on the subject and not do it justice. The last ride we organised raised over £20,000 and as a result there is now a disabled school in India that has a brand new toilet block for the 120 children. It’s quite special and I can promise you when the riders of this trip read about the project coming to completion some were quite overwhelmed.
So it’s a charity bike ride and the money raised must go to Sanitation First.
Below is an overview of the trip and as much information we can offer at this time. Interested? Simply register your details and I will stay in touch.
- 3 days of cycling linking London, Bruges, Ghent and Brussels
- Approximately 220-230
- Low cost entry circa £650-£750 for the trip itself (based on shared room)
- Minimum fund raising requirement of £600 for charity Sanitation First
- Support vehicle to carry bags etc.
- Eurostar return to London on Eurostar
This is a wonderful challenge taking in three different countries and cycling through fascinating and beautiful countryside. Starting at the famous city of London, the ride passes through the beautiful countryside of Kent before it then takes in the best of Northern France and Belgium. Where we can, we will be on safe cycle paths that follow canals, rivers and railway tracks and the route will take through as many iconic cities such as Bruges, Ghent and of course Brussels!
We will run this cycle event over 3 nights, 4 days (3 cycling days), with the days specified to suit Eurostar schedules. An expected outline itinerary looks like this:
Day 1 – London – Dover : The route takes in Greenwich Park, Shooters Hill and then follows the Thames corridor through to Dartford. From there you skirt Maidstone passing through Coxheath, Lenham and over the Kent Downs towards Folkestone. From Folkestone the route follows the coast northwards to Dover before we catch the ferry to Calais.
Around 80 miles with some climbing towards the end.
Day 2 – Calais to Bruges: As we enter our second country on the trip we cruise across super flat countryside heading for the picturesque city of Bruges. Not before we have taken is as much of the Dunkirk beach roads as we can so that we get a chance to visit this critical landmark in the UK’s history.
Around 75 miles – mostly flat.
Day 3 – Bruges to Brussels: Another day of no hills as we take our time to enjoy the scenic surroundings of the Belgian countryside before heading to Ghent for a spot of lunch in the main square. From Ghent we circle around to Brussels.
65 miles and mainly flat
Day 4 – Brussels: Depart on the Eurostar in separate groups back to London St Pancras where you will make your own way home.
Please note: This itinerary is a guide only. It can be subject to change dependent upon viability, and weather conditions or for any other reason.
As mentioned above, this ride is in aid of Sanitation First. Sanitation First has a vision of everyone having access to a safe and hygienic toilet. Toilets are the stepping-stones towards a better future for people living in acute poverty, as basic sanitation is the linchpin that connects all other forms of development. Without improved sanitation, poverty will not be eradicated. For more details about their work, please visit their web page at: http://sanitationfirst.org
Below is a list of the key things included in the package.
- 3 nights’ accommodation in good quality B&Bs or hotels with ensuite or private bathroom and breakfast. Think Hotel IBIS.
- Experienced cycle leader(s) with good knowledge of bike mechanics and group riding.
- Support vehicle (staffed by volunteers) to carry luggage, refreshments, first aid etc.
- All luggage transfers on cycle days.
- Ferry crossing (Dover to Calais) for passengers, bikes and support car.
- Return transport for you and your bike to Eurostar (St Pancras) London from Brussels.
- All pre-planned routes (in printed & GPX format for Garmin/Wahoo devices)
- Detailed Rider Pack with training tips, packing lists and other useful trip suggestions.
- Exclusive completion medal.
- Charity specific cycling jersey.
- A whole load of fun and sense of personal achievement!
- Amateur GoPro footage and photos taken by various riders and support car.
- Discounted 12 month rider and bicycle insurance from We Are Cycling UK (that covers you even when you get back from the trip).
What’s Not Included
The most important thing to note here is that this is not a cycling trip organised by professionals. They would cost a minimum of £1,200-£1,500 and would obviously do a more thorough job. This is a cycling trip organised by a few individuals who have done it before, enjoy cycling and take great pride in the work undertaken by Sanitation First. It’s not for profit, it’s a best endeavours exercise. Or in simple terms, we are doing the ride and you have decided to come with us for fun, charity and the journey.
More specifically, just so you are aware the following isn’t included:
- Group leaders that will always know where they are going (don’t worry we made it to Paris last time OK). Effectively, two of the riders will have plotted the route and are there to take responsibility for helping you get there.
- Official first aiders or emergency back-up.
- Bike mechanics (but many riders interested sure are handy with bikes).
- Lunches and evening meals.
- Personal insurance (for cancellation, accident, health, emergency evacuation and loss, theft of or damage to baggage and personal effects) although we can point you towards companies that will offer this for you.
- Bike and bike equipment.
- Your travel to and from the start point.
- The weather!
To complete a trip like this it is obviously essential that you have experience riding a bike and the one you will be doing the trip on. It is not a race so this is not about speed, however, you do need to have the fitness to be able to complete it. As a rough guide, you should be able to complete a 50 mile ride in one day prior to the trip and to be able to do so at around 15mph.
Due to the size of the group it is not always possible to ride together and often not safe or convenient to do so. Typically for example, the group will split naturally into preferred smaller groups based riding speed and this works great. What feels like a big difference in speed can lead to no more than a short wait at the next coffee stop for the group arriving first. Key though, is that this is a group event and we arrive at our key points together.
If you are super fit and enjoy cycling fast – great, you are more than welcome, just make sure you realise that this is not a sportive or a race but a social event for charity.