Riding RideLondon for Create: Mark’s Story

Riding London: image of ride London participants
Create’s supporter Mark tells his story of riding RideLondon in aid of Create.

I was delighted to ride this year’s Prudential Ride 100 in support of Create. After a blisteringly hot seven consecutive weeks without a hint of rain, the heavens opened on the morning of the event and we were soaked through for the first 60 miles. This did not diminish the pleasure of riding with four of my pals (and 25,000 others) through London and Surrey’s car-less streets.

It was an amazing feeling to fly down so many familiar roads and past so many landmarks, with a great sense of camaraderie with my fellow cyclists and with such brilliant support from the intrepid souls who lined the route. Particularly memorable moments were the steel drums in Dorking, our family cheering squad on Giggs Hill (and at Hampton Court) and coming down The Mall with arms linked.  

Atop Newlands Corner, the cyclists all resembled something from an Antarctic David Attenborough documentary, as we huddled together like emperor penguins, on the exposed summit, for warmth and shelter, taking in fuel in the form of coffee, cliff bars and bananas.

Long hours riding his bike going through glens and up Highland mountain passes

I returned to cycling after at least 15 years away from the sport in 2016. My grandad was Scotland’s cinder track cycling champion in 1928 and spent many long hours on his bike going through glens and up Highland mountain passes. For someone who lost his Dad in the Great War and brother in the Second, without doubt some of the happiest moments for him were spent in the saddle (he cycled until he was in his late 80s).

My brother and I, growing up east of Edinburgh, loved nothing more than to head out with our mum, dad and grandad and cycle the quiet country lanes of East Lothian. I never thought riding in London or Surrey would hold much allure and with three kids, a busy job, a good amount of work travel and a passion for running, cycling never came to the fore. That all changed when I tore the ligaments off my right ankle (while running) two years ago and was reintroduced to cycling by mate Jon. A group of us from Thames Ditton now peddle each weekend and I ride to work once or twice a week with my pal Steve.

Create does phenomenal work with disadvantaged and often sadly marginalised people

For me, riding for Create was an easy choice. The charity does phenomenal work with disadvantaged and often sadly marginalised people. The cause really resonated as my wife and kids are fantastic artists. My wife was a designer and often paints, while one of my daughters has sold her work for an African art charity in the local gallery.

I was impressed by the examples of Create’s work supporting groups including children with disabilities, isolated adults, young carers and families separated by prison sentences. I have seen first-hand how art can heal. We almost lost our son (to drowning) five years ago and art has been part of the therapy for some of our number. Our family use art as a form of expression but also as a release and it is great to be able to express yourself in different ways and feel confidence and pride in your work and joy in the process. Create makes this happen for those who might not have access or natural inclination.  

Create was fabulous in its support and I received without doubt the nicest, most personalised good luck and congratulations cards I have ever had

I received great support from friends, family and colleagues in raising money for this brilliant cause. I loved the day and would love to do it next year in the dry. It brought back memories of when I ran the London Marathon in 2003 – what a fantastic city this is with amazing people. Create was fabulous in its support and I received without doubt the nicest, most personalised good luck and congratulations cards I have ever had.

Thank you to all who supported me and to Create for the valuable work you do every day.

To find out about how you can support Create, click here.