Blood, Sweat and Gears: Durham Students’ Charity Cycle Ride to Istanbul
Cycling from London to Istanbul is no mean feat, yet during the summer, 13 gutsy Durham students plan to cycle the 3000 miles in 60 days, all in the name of charity. The trip is the brainchild of Third Year Durham student Nic Bird. He commented, ‘I’ve always wanted to do something a little bit balmy, a little bit ridiculous’ – a wish fully realised by this expedition.
The adventurers plan to shadow the Danube from it’s source to it’s mouth, spanning 12 countries, before finally crossing the finishing line in Istanbul. There will no doubt be blisters, bruises and plenty of battered nerves.
Yet it will all be worth it with the charitable donations the team are hoping to raise. The four charities chosen are the ABF: The Soldiers’ Charity, The Meningitis Trust, Unseen (a UK charity against Sex Trafficking) and The Cancer Care and Haematology Fund – Stoke Mandeville. Many of the cyclists have deep personal links with these charities.
Indeed, with an older brother recently deployed to Afghanistan and he himself attending Sandhurt in January 2013, Nic said that ‘ABF is certainly a cause very close to my family.’ Likewise, First Year cyclist, Alan Hedges has a particular affinity with his chosen charity, The Meningitis Trust, having suffered Bacterial Menigitis in his first term. A key advantage of the trip is that it is being entirely funded by the students with all sponsorship being fed directly into the charities.
Nic states that ‘We’re completely funding it 100%…none of the money that we raise for charity is going in our pockets.’
There will no doubt be many tough challenges ahead. The team will be cycling during peak summer, in blistering temperatures of over 37°C, where even their tyres will begin to melt. With such an ambitious plan, things will inevitably go wrong. The team will have to deal with broken bikes, punctured tyres, injuries, low spirits and unreliable Emergency Services. Yet despite the mammoth task ahead, Durham students were certainly up for the challenge. Indeed, within 24 hours of advertising the expedition, Nic received 50 eager responses. ‘Yes, it’s a little daunting at first, but as a student led challenge, it’s really exciting.’
The team are hoping to raise over £20,000 through a series of fundraising initiatives. Sponsored hiking through Iceland, encouraging ‘pee in a pot’, selling merchandise and hosting dinner nights are just the tip of the iceberg of the team’s feverish fundraising activity. However, much more support (financial and otherwise) is needed before the lycra is donned on 23rd July 2012.
Nic maintains that support not only comes in the form of financial aid, but by also offering advice and by spreading awareness – ‘We want to get people talking about it’ he said. A driver is still required for the support van (if interested email firstname.lastname@example.org), as are financial donations. To sponsor the team visit www.justgiving.com/teams/london2istanbul.