At the end of August friends and keen cyclists Owen Clay and Hywel Jenkins will set off from Cheltenham to make their way, by bicycle, to Berlin. Passing through France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, the duo hope to make it to Standert Bicycles, 1,400km away, in the German capital 8 days later. The challenge is a fundraising adventure in aid of cancer support charity, The 100 Project.
“Earlier this year, while chatting to Max von Senger, the owner of the shop, I realised that it was time to take on another challenge,” said Hywel, who works at brand communication agency, Pink Sky, in Cheltenham. “I let my mouth work faster than my brain, and said that I should ride from my favourite café in Cheltenham to my favourite café in Berlin. I sent Owen a message saying that he’d need a rudimentary command of at least two European languages and a road bike. For some reason he signed up without really knowing what I was talking about.”
The route will take the pair from Café Moochoo in Cheltenham to Folkestone, Calais, Dunkirk, Antwerp, Eindhoven, Dortmund, Hamelin, Flechtingen, and, finally, to the Standert Bicycles café in Berlin.
Naomi Turner, Managing Director and owner at Pink Sky was with Hywel when he came up with the idea. “I wasn’t really sure that he realised what he was saying. He often says that once you tell someone you’re going to do something, then you have to - there’s no way out. I don’t think he fully appreciated where, geographically, Berlin is and how vast Germany is. That said, I know that when he has an idea that he is passionate about, he is pretty unstoppable and I can't think of a better cycling partner than Owen, who is also someone I admire hugely. I am extremely proud of them both for taking this on, and for such a good cause.”
Owen, who runs Marble Cake, a graphic design business in mid-Wales, is an enthusiastic mountain biker but a relative newcomer to road cycling. “A few years ago Pink Sky delivered a few boxes of bike scrap, and challenged me to assemble a bike and ride it 50 miles in aid of Bloodwise. It took a few months to assemble, and the ride from Abergavenny to Cheltenham was certainly a challenge, but it seeded the idea of giving road cycling a chance. I’m not relishing the prospect of spending 8 days cycling over 100 miles a day, but big challenges, like beating cancer, require big efforts.”
With a small support team following in a vehicle carrying kit and spares, Hywel and Owen will be in the saddle for upwards of 6 hours a day. “Our longest day in terms of distance is the last day, when we’ll be covering the 185km from Flechtingen to Berlin. The shortest day is a mere 100km, from Antwerp to Eindhoven, so I’m sure Owen would agree that we’re both looking forward to that day.”
“I recently took my family on holiday to France, and took my road bike with me. Cycling over there was so different to what I’m used to here. The roads are quiet and generally pretty flat, so I hope the training I’ve been doing in hilly Wales will pay off, especially in Belgium and the Netherlands,” Owen explained.
The two agree that the biggest challenge they face is running out of conversation. “We’ll be spending a lot of time together, with little more than our thoughts. We know that we can motivate each other when the going gets tough, and we’re both stubborn enough to get the job done. Hopefully we’ll still be friends when we arrive in Berlin!”
The highlight of the trip will be meeting the Standert Cycling Team for the final stretch into Berlin. “Team Standert is a group of very serious cyclists, so we’re hoping they’ll go easy on us for the last few miles. No doubt we’ll be tired by then, but I’m sure we’ll in good spirits as we arrive in Berlin,” says Owen.
Usually the pair covers the costs of their fundraising efforts themselves, but due to the scale of this challenge, they are looking for businesses to help. Hywel, who is the co-founder of The 100 Project, explains how they intend to manage the financial resources of the ride. “We’re hoping that businesses will help us with things like accommodation and the support vehicle, and that friends, family, and individuals will donate directly to The 100 Project. Our intention is that our expenses will be kept to an absolute minimum to ensure that the charity will benefit as much as possible.”
Businesses have already stepped forward to help with some of the out-of-pocket expenses, such as hotel rooms, but if a you know of business that would like to support The 100 Project by helping to provide backing for resources, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Donations can be made directly to The 100 Project here.