On 26 September, 120 cyclists rolled into the Prince’s Palace in Monaco to a shower of champagne and a royal welcome from HSH Prince Albert II. They had just completed the BLUE’s third annual London to Monaco cycle ride, and the biggest to date.
So far this year, the riders have raised over a quarter of a million pounds for BLUE’s projects in Ascension, St Helena, the Mediterranean and Lyme Bay, and this number is steadily rising. An additional £200,000 was donated by a generous member of the Blue Marine Yacht Club (BMYC), bringing the total to an impressive £450,000.
This year’s ride crossed eight countries in seven days and covered a distance of over 1,000 kilometres. The team also had to contend with steep 45 kilometre climbs, 53 punctures and three particularly formidable days, each covering 200 kilometres.
These efforts were recognised by Prince Albert as he addressed riders at his palace in Monaco, calling it a “tremendous effort” and thanking everyone for their commitment to marine conservation.
This reception was matched only by the ride’s royal send-off that took place seven days earlier at the Herne Hill Velodrome in London. There, Zara Tindall (daughter of Princess Anne and granddaughter of the Queen) and husband Mike cut the ribbon, sending waves of blue Lycra-clad cyclists into the streets of South London.
Before embarking on the first leg of the ride themselves, Zara and Mike described why they had chosen to support BLUE by taking part in London to Monaco 2018. Zara explained: “We are really happy to be lending our support to this great charity. Our oceans are constantly under threat and it’s for that reason that we are joining 100 brave cyclists in raising awareness around vital marine conservation projects like BLUE’s so that they can receive the funding and support they need.”
When asked about which of BLUE’s projects had motivated them to get involved in the ride, Mike answered: “[BLUE’s] work in St Helena and Ascension Island, which are teeming with marine life… I think a lot of the time people don’t think about it. Everyone talks about wildlife in Africa but it’s the same in the sea – there are still very rare species in there that need protecting and looking after.
“Our oceans are fragile, but further damage is avoidable if we put the right protection measures in place. Both myself and Zara believe it’s really important to help protect the oceans for our children and future generations to enjoy.”
This sentiment was echoed by other riders over the next six days. After completing the infamous climb up the Col du Grand St Bernard, one of Switzerland’s highest passes, on day five of the ride, London to Monaco veteran Billy Springer likened the challenging 45 kilometre climb to the seemingly insurmountable problems facing our oceans.
In his blog, Billy explained: “The metaphor of climbing a big mountain is apt for the mission of the organisation we’re here to ride and raise money for. Tackling the problem of overfishing and disappearing fish is a huge challenge. But today showed that when a group of committed and passionate people works together, anything is possible. And the same is true when it comes to the world’s oceans – anything is possible when we work together.”
There to offer extra motivation along the way was the team from Just Pedal who ensured that the ride ran smoothly and that everyone received the support they needed to complete the challenge. It took only a few short days for 120 strangers from all over the world to become a close-knit, supportive community, united by a common goal – to reach the finish line in Monaco and to raise as much money for BLUE’s projects as possible in the process.
After crossing the finish line and collecting their goody bags, the riders were praised by Prince Albert for their incredible achievement. However, BLUE’s CEO Clare Brook provided the icing on the cake by announcing that earlier that day the UK Government had called for 30 per cent of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030 – a threefold increase on previous commitments.
She went on to say: “It’s an amazing welcome for you because, if other nations follow suit, this will be the most important moment in the history of ocean conservation. And you are part of this change.”
With this as an added reason to celebrate, riders traded in their Lycra for evening wear for the London to Monaco after party sponsored by Icon Connect. With the sole aim of having fun, and without the usual 5am wake up to worry about, the celebrations lasted well into the night.
Just down the road at the Monaco Yacht Club, BLUE’s annual Blue Marine Yacht Club party was also taking place. Sponsors, partners and Blue Marine Yacht Club members heard more about BLUE’s work and the many exciting projects that are in need of support this year. Following this, the London to Monaco ride received an additional generous donation from one of BLUE’s loyal BMYC members to support its projects.
The ride may be over for another year, but the need for donations continues. Two of the projects being supported by this year’s ride are the overseas territories of Ascension and St Helena in the South Atlantic, both of which are home to an incredible array of marine wildlife including 10 species of fish found nowhere else in the world.
The ride is also supporting BLUE’s flagship project in Lyme Bay where we established a win-win model of conservation and sustainable fishing hailed as a ‘world first.’ Lastly, money raised by London to Monaco 2018 will support BLUE’s work rolling out locally managed marine protected areas in the Mediterranean where artisanal fishers provide sustainable, traceable, high quality seafood and will be rewarded for operating sustainably.
Anyone wanting to support London to Monaco 2018 can do so here. We have already received an overwhelming number of applications for next year’s ride and places are limited, so don’t hesitate to click here if you would like to reserve your spot.
BLUE would like to thank London to Monaco’s generous sponsors, without whom the ride would not have been the success that it was: Winch Design, Boat International, Icon Connect, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Monaco Yacht Show, Artemis, Pinmar, Hopkins Homes, Vita Yachts, Tai Ping, Climpson & Sons, Drone Exposure, Steve Edge Design Ltd, David Churchill Photography, NoPinz, Ub-Cool, Tony Castro Design, ExSite, XRace, Looping Evenements.