Looking back on the London to Monaco cycle ride, it’s become more clear to me that I have just experienced something very special. Not just because we had all taken part in an event that had happened for the very first time, but it was an event that is going to make a real difference to the health of our oceans.
On 18th September 2016, a group of 50 riders of different nationalities, fitness levels and experience gathered on the shorelines of the Thames under London Tower Bridge for the grand departure of the inaugural London to Monaco cycle ride in aid of our oceans. The popularity of the event was a true indication of how many people worldwide care about the cause and want to do their bit in helping ensure our oceans are protected for future generations.
The ride was set to be a challenge, it wasn’t meant to be easy just like saving the oceans is not easy. Months of training was needed to reach a suitable level of fitness to take part and there was no denying the feeling of uncertainty as to whether our legs would withstand riding 150km relentlessly for ten days. This was the longest ride everyone taking part had done.
Reassuringly these uneasy feelings were very quickly replaced by growing levels of excitement, anticipation, eagerness and determination as the ride unfolded. Every day our confidence grew little by little as we cycled further into our 1500km journey and the number of days until we reached ocean again were counted down.
The ten challenging days were witness to blood, sweat and tears. The pain however was made bearable by the stunning countryside we found ourselves riding through from St. Omer in northern France to Carros in the south before we crossed the mountains and the border into Monaco. At times the landscape took your breath away and the relentless mountain climbs at the end rewarded you with vistas you didn’t want to take your eyes off.
The biggest things I have taken away from the experience are the new friendships formed during my training and on the ride. There is nothing more powerful or rewarding than sharing a physical or mental challenge with people who have been brought together with the same goal and common passion for a cause. Everyone has their own personal experience and childhood memories of the sea which were brought to light over our journey. The thought of not doing anything and having to explain what a bluefin tuna looks like once they become extinct is unimaginable. London to Monaco gave us all an opportunity to dig deep into muscle power and put foot to peddle to do our bit.
Thanks to all our donors who dug deep into their pockets to support our efforts, we have so far managed to raise a staggering £224,000 at a crucial time for two of BLUE’s projects; protection of the waters around Ascension Island in the mid Atlantic and the waters around the Aeolian Islands in the Mediterranean.
Dr Judith Brown, Director of Conservation and Fisheries for Ascension Island Government gave a presentation to the cyclists on where the money they have raised was going and said she had no idea before she came just how much effort went in to raising it. I hope this story helps to persuade the Ascension Islanders that a 50 per cent, or even a 100%, marine protected area in Ascension waters is not only possible but will bring in alternative sources of funding. After all, the money I raised on my own was a bit more than the annual revenue from a commercial fishing licence. In the Aeolians it means we are able to start mapping the seagrass – the crucial stage in getting a marine protected area created in its waters.
Due to the event’s success, we are already in planning stages for 2017. If you love cycling, have a sense of adventure and a strong desire to make a positive change to our ocean’s future, then this is definitely the event for you!
There are only 40 places on the ride, so to avoid disappointment, please register your interest early by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you.