Cyclists pedal for charity as popularity of cycle tours around the world grows

When the trips started in the 1990s, Anderson says they were mostly about the event, which is recognized as cycling’s biggest. But while it’s still important to follow the Tour, there’s also the appeal of discovering what France has to offer in the summer.

Often there will be around 20 guests on one of Anderson’s Tour de France trips. They also have a number of staff including himself, a mechanic who helps with the bikes, a driver for the support van and several local guides.

“We tend to stay in four and five star accommodation so it could be a chateau. There are usually a number of non-cyclists on the trip so we organize wine tours for them.”

There are also smaller groups organized each year for the Giro and Vuelta, the major cycling events in Italy and Spain respectively.

Surprising growth

Anderson says the growth in cycling has surprised him. In its day it was primarily a sport for the working class, but it has grown to appeal to all types.

“It attracts people for a whole host of health, social and family reasons. Cycling allows you to chat with like-minded people.”

An indication of the evolution of the cycling leisure industry is a river cruise combined with a cycling tour planned for 2016. The cruise will last 15 days and will go from Budapest to Amsterdam.

“The plan is that there will be a scheduled bike ride every other day. So people can ride with me on those days or they can explore the different towns where the boat is docked.”

Locally his company has a number of tours for the Great Ocean Road. Premium packages are available, which include a helicopter ride and a personal chef who flies in to prepare meals at the end of the day.

Charity cycling events have become widespread in recent years, reflecting the rise of the sport itself. One that Anderson is involved with is the Amy Gillett Foundation, named after an Australian cyclist who died in a road accident.

The message the foundation is trying to promote is that the roads are there to be used safely by everyone, Anderson says.

One of the main charity cycling events is the 2015 Hawaiian Ride for Youth from March 24-27. The naming sponsor is the Western Australia-based property group and the ride has raised $10.2 million since its launch in 2003. Funds raised by the ride go to the non-profit Youth Focus , who works in youth suicide prevention in Western Australia. . There will be 145 runners and 40 companions and for the first time this year, a CEO Challenge.

Improving the lot of deprived areas is part of the reason former Sydney Swans Jared Crouch and Ryan O’Keefe started their cycling leisure business. Both are still heavily involved in football, so Crouch says their trips are due in October when the AFL is on vacation.

“We try to donate money to local schools or orphanages in the areas we visit. For the people on our trips, it’s about challenging them mentally and physically.”

“Ryan is a crazy cyclist. I love cycling, but for me it’s more about learning the culture of the places we visit, so it was a good thing we could do together.”

Their first trip was to Vietnam in 2010. Since then they have been to China – where they visited the Tiger Leaping Gorge – Myanmar and Spain. The trip to Spain closely followed a pilgrim’s path and included trips to major cathedrals.

“The total bike ride in Spain was around 800 kilometres. In China and Vietnam, the segments were sometimes only 40 kilometers each day, but they were so mountainous that the slopes were very steep.”

Inaccessible

Most of the places they’ve been are difficult, if not impossible, to reach by car, says Crouch, the bike allows for close interaction with locals.

“We normally have a dozen in our groups. There are two support cars and we always have local guides who can speak English.”

When they finished playing, Crouch and O’Keefe found they missed the team environment. So there is an element of teaching leadership in their travels.

“You may have completed the course for the day, but you realize that you have to back up about a mile to help another of the riders. Some days you may want to throw your bike away because each of you suffers, but it’s about continuing.”

Tours attract a wide range of people and ages, Crouch says. They adapt the rides to the people in the group and there are time restrictions on each stage for safety reasons.

“We’re not looking to make money out of it, it’s about giving people a challenge and an experience,” Crouch says.

Comments are closed.