You may be one of those cyclists that dabbles in long distance cycling. Maybe you like challenges. Maybe you like folding bikes. Maybe, just maybe, you like Paris. They do make exceedingly good baguettes. Or maybe you have read a book about a French man and his amazing baguette. Maybe I’m rambling!
The 9th of September is the launch of the Folding Bike Challenge. The 4-day bike ride to Paris which goes against conventional wisdom of charity bike rides in that it involves using a folding bike (shown below) as opposed to the more orthodox road bike.
To enter you can either raise money for Scope or British Heart Foundation or for the rich amongst us: self fund. The organisers are pushing this event not so much as a race but as a light-hearted way to raise funds for charity and enjoy some fine food and company along the way. I caught up with director Julian Risley of Action Challenge who is managing the Folding Bike Challenge. Julian is a very keen cyclist and has previously done charity bike rides as far as India. His conquests include tough cycling in the French Alps, Spain and Italy. He uses his Brompton folding bike on a daily commute into London.
I asked Julian about the challenges of running such an event:
The main challenge is resolving en route accommodation requirements for a large group. On this event we wanted to incorporate some of the best country side in Northern France, avoid big cities (apart from Paris) wherever possible, and have a route that was not too hilly for the folding bikes- finding sufficient hotel rooms outside of the major towns is a challenge in itself.
- and about how they were getting the word out to cyclists:
Initially our main method was giving out leaflets at the major London railway stations, as the folding bike riders are easy to spot! We’ve backed that up with a Google Ads campaign that has been successful, and now intend to run a few press advertisements as well.
Finally Julian has this advice for first timers:
Get a few long rides in (equivalent to a day of the main event) to see how comfortable you are; not so much in terms of fitness, but rather back aches and just getting used to being in the saddle. Then adjust the saddle as required to get the right riding position that suits you over long distances. Apart from the obvious height adjustment to avoid knee problems, small backward/forward adjustments in the saddle position can make a big difference in avoiding back ache.
Whether its for the French food, French women/men or just to prove to your road bike mates that folding bikes are just as capable – the website to look at is Folding Bike Challenge.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.