Del Thomas not only took on the Prudential RideLondon 100 mile cycling challenge, but did an amazing job fundraising, smashing his personal target. Read his inspirational story…
Why sign up to this crazy challenge?
About a year ago I bought myself a road bike and soon discovered it was just as much fun as when I rode my racer bike around as a child in the 80s. Not long after I found myself creeping out of the house early on Sunday mornings to get a few miles in on the bike before the family all got up. Every couple of years I try and do some sort of fundraiser for a charity close to my heart. so it seemed to make sense to combine this with my new hobby. At the time of deciding to take up the challenge of Ride London for WWF-UK the furthest I had ever ridden in one go is 53 miles, and that was mainly due to some very poor navigation. Those 53 miles hurt, and even changed my walking style for a few days, so taking on 100 seemed to represent a daunting but decent challenge that would also be a good opportunity to raise money for WWF-UK.
My big fat fundraising idea!
I had a fundraising amount I wanted to raise, but decided to double it to aim that much higher! It can be tricky to fundraise, having asked lots of my friends and family to sponsor me in the past, so felt that I had to do things a little different this time. Team Panda gave me some tips on fundraising which gave me a great start. Then I sat down and came up with a plan of action. I knew I would need to contact as many people as possible to reach my target and come up with something to stand out…
My big idea was for people to have the option not just to sponsor me but they could also sponsor one or more of the miles that I would ride. If they did, they’d be in with a chance of winning something extra special. So every £10 donation would be considered sponsorship for one mile, with only 100 of these miles available they were snapped up! People could sponsor any amount but would only be in with a chance of winning something for donations of £10 or more.
Making the idea fly…or ride
So now I just needed some extra special prizes…. After a brief letter writing campaign and a few cheeky asks I had a number of prizes on offer including many signed pictures of sports heroes and some very cute cuddly toys.
I spread the word about my challenge everywhere I could, through conversations, emails, social media and work newsletters. I even had pictures of me riding a child’s bike, in my panda jersey around my office to spread the word. By giving my sponsors a reason to sponsor £10 they tended to start there, as opposed to a lesser amount, some even went higher, which was amazing.
Using an online fundraising really helped. This meant that it was easy for me to send links to my fundraising page and was easy for people to sponsor me through it. Out of all my eventual sponsors only one did not sponsor me using my online fundraising page. Quickly I hit my original target which was amazing and even more amazingly by the time I was lining up for the ride at the Olympic Park I was just under my doubled published target!
The Panda made me cycle 100 miles!
I had prepared and trained for the ride over the months leading up to it. The tips on nutrition, training and riding in such large groups provided by Team Panda and Ride London really helped me feel ready. The team at WWF communicated throughout and were really supportive in the lead up to the ride which helped massively. I had lots of questions given I had not taken part in a big event before. I needn’t have worried, the fantastic organisation around the event and support from Team Panda meant everything went according to plan. I even met up with some of the team near registration on the day before the ride which was fab.
As for the ride itself, well it was long, and at times difficult, but throughout it was amazing. The atmosphere from start to finish was fantastic. The riders and crowds were in great spirits all the way round, one fellow rider even told that our WWF-UK jerseys were the best he had seen all day! Seeing the Team Panda cheer points on route and at the finish for some much need food and a relaxing massage. After the ride we settled at the Team Panda area, and had some great pictures to treasure the day and look back on.
Yes I would have liked to have got round the 100 miles faster, but that was never the plan, the plan was to get round and enjoy it, whilst doing it raise money for a fantastic cause. I can honestly say riding for Team Panda made it even that much more enjoyable! If I want to get round faster I suppose I will just have to try and do it all again next year… here we go again. Fancy joining me?