This year once again #TeamCreate took on the RideLondon-Surrey 100. Nine riders made their way through the stunning Surrey countryside, before racing on closed roads passed some of London’s most iconic sights such as Putney Bridge, the Thames Embankment and St James’s Park. Here #TeamCreate member Ben Allan, who works for Create’s corporate partner Uncommon, talks about the joys of riding and the challenges of fundraising for an arts charity.
I started out mountain biking as a kid and spent the summer before university living in Whistler, Canada. I think eighteen year old me would be horrified at how lycra-clad my cycling style has become in the last few years!
The company I work for, Uncommon, have partnered with Create since we started, pretty much. It’s an amazing cause and one that’s especially apt for me, working in the creative industries. So when I found out that they had places to do RideLondon, it was perfect for me as a cyclist as well.
“Flying around London on closed roads was particularly memorable. Not sure I’ll be going down Embankment on the wrong side of the road again any time soon!”
I ride a lot all year round, so didn’t train for this per se. I try and get out on my bike at least once a week, so tried to keep that up and do some much longer rides to make sure I had the legs. On the day itself, it was a particularly early start! Getting to Stratford for 6am on a Sunday felt a bit surreal, but once you’re surrounded by the other cyclists the anticipation builds and you’re itching to get going. It was a beautiful morning actually – perfect for cycling.
I went out pretty quick, so started to flag a bit when I hit the Surrey Hills. Thankfully there was a perfectly placed food stop so I leapt off the bike for a stretch of the legs and a quick banana or two.
It was also very crowded on the roads near the start, so trying to dodge everyone whilst finding your pace and searching for similarly paced riders to group with was a challenge. I actually ended up riding pretty much all of it solo, which the legs definitely didn’t appreciate!
Flying around London on closed roads was particularly memorable. Not sure I’ll be going down Embankment on the wrong side of the road again any time soon! It was also amazing how many people came out to cheer it, especially in Dorking, where they had railings all through the centre of town. It also helped a lot in the final few miles up to The Mall. I celebrated crossing the finish line with a burrito and a beer with the Create gang. And then a mac and cheese for good measure.
“It’s not that people don’t want to give, they often just forget you’re raising money before they get round to donating.”
I learnt that when fundraising for an arts charity, you have to keep prodding. Re-post on your social media, re-send the email to colleagues etc. It’s not that people don’t want to give, they often just forget you’re raising money before they get round to donating. We got two bits of art donated by a friend, which we gave away in a raffle to anyone who donated. That definitely helped as it gives everyone that extra incentive to give.
Create provided brilliant support throughout! Always checking in on how things were going with training, fundraising, and helping to update the donation pages if required. It was great to sit with them and enjoy some much needed food and drink at the finish line on the day too. I’d definitely ride for #TeamCreate again next year. And this time I’m dragging some friends along too!
Read about how you can fundraiser for Create here.