Deciding to do a charity bike ride is a great way to get involved and get fit. The fixed date for the cycling event gives you a get-cycling-fit goal to aim for, and the motivation to keep going with your cycling training plan (you don’t want to end up pushing your bike uphill on the day, if you can avoid it). Most charity bike rides take place during the summer, so you have the early part of the year to start training and getting fit for your chosen charity ride.
Choosing the Best Charity Bike Ride for You
Most charity rides follow one of these two models.
- Riders are fundraisers, typically needing to raise $500 to $5,000 each in donations from various sources, and then doing the ride. Often these are long, multi-day rides. The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is a good example of this model.
- Riders pay an entry fee (anywhere from around $20 to $200) to go on the ride. Typically these are one-day events, often with multiple route and length choices. Many even include a children’s route.
Obviously the charity ride you choose depends on your own abilities and ambitions. If it’s your first, it’s definitely a good idea to consider starting with a short, one-day event. See how you go on that, and then you can graduate to a two-day charity bike ride.
Your choice may also be governed by the charity you most wish to support. For example, our friend Al got fit to do the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, in support of his mother who has cancer.
Maggie and I chose our first charity ride as the MS Bike Ride because we have two friends with MS. Here we are after finishing our first ride last year – big smiles because we made it!
Or you may just want to choose a ride that has awesome views and will give you bragging rights for years because it’s just so impressive. For example, here’s an account of how Alex Precosky chose the Whistler Gran Fondo for his very first charity ride. He loved the 120 km ride, which included over 2,400 m of climbing.
Or you might like to try something completely different, like the Kettle Mettle Dirty Fondo, which offers breathtaking views as riders cycle over the old railway trestles in the countryside between Kelowna and Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. This is an all-day event and probably not the best one for beginners.
Charity bike rides are great social events, as we found when we did our first. There were a lot of other beginners, and we felt very supported. Lots of the time we would ride in a small group of other beginners. Along the way there are support stations where you can get refreshments and cool down. It really is a great way to spend the day.
Of course, before the event you need to do two things: raise money and get fit enough to do the race.
Usually the charity ride organizer offers you lots of support and tips for raising the money. If you start with a ride that does not have a minimum sponsorship level, or has a fairly low minimum level, you should be fine. You will likely be surprised to find out how many friends, family members, and co-workers will be willing to support a good charitable cause.
How to Get Fit for your First Charity Bike Ride
As for getting fit for your first charity bike ride: Check out any of my training plans for cyclists, listed in the chart below:
Two of the Top Charity Rides in Canada
The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer Charity Rides (two-day event)
These take place in four of Canada’s provinces, scattered over the summer (so if you are really keen, you could do them all!) The money raised funds local cancer patients and families directly, and also funds cancer research. All of the rides are two-day events. These events aren’t just for athletes – the rides are for anyone who wants to challenge themselves for a great cause. The organizers offer a very high level of support for riders, so if you cannot make it, you will be rescued! You do have to raise the minimum level of funding to be allowed to participate. This event is the biggest cycling fund raiser in Canada’s history.
The MS Bike Ride (one-day event)
The MS Bike event has 25 tours, coast to coast of Canada. Pick your province here. This is a great beginner ride for a great cause. It’s also suitable for more experienced cyclists, as it offers a choice of distances and varied routes.
A Great Charity Ride in the USA
There are an almost overwhelming number of charity bike rides to choose from in the USA. Here is one of the most challenging:
The AIDS/Lifecycle (one-week event)
This ride raises funds for the San Francisco Aids Foundation and Jeffery Goodman Clinic of Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to support those who do not have health insurance. A challenging 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, over one week. You need to raise $3,000 to participate.
So just pick a ride to aim for, pick a cycling training plan to follow, such as my simple, complete bike training plan – and get pedaling. By all accounts a person’s first charity bike ride is an exhilarating, unforgettable, life-altering event – so, enjoy!
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