Here at The Bike Project we depend on awesome people all over the world doing awesome things to raise much-needed funds so that we can carrying on getting refugees cycling.

In fact, right this minute, a dozen sweaty cyclists are grinding into Athens at the end of a 6,000km fundraising bike ride that started 9 weeks ago in north London.

Thighs of Steel is a massive relay ride that has raised over a quarter of a million pounds for grassroots refugee projects by cycling thousands of miles from London to Athens every summer for the past four years.

Thighs of Steel stretch
This year, Thighs of Steel have ring-fenced a spectacular £10,000 for The Bike Project – which will go towards our new Pedal Power programme in Birmingham.

Pedal Power offers free cycling lessons to refugee women in an all-female environment where they can develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to cycle independently around their city.

We think it's pretty cool and luckily Thighs of Steel co-founder Harri Symes agrees. She said: 

"The Bike Project supports people to live their lives in a cheaper, healthier way, and does this, not by giving financial donations, but by giving people the tools they need to do it themselves."

The first Thighs of Steel ride took place in 2016 and this summer's ride has been the biggest yet: 85 cyclists putting their thighs to the test on over 6,000km of asphalt, including more than 90,000 metres of climbing on a route that has crossed three of the biggest mountain ranges in Europe.

No wonder it's called Thighs of Steel!

Thighs of Steel mountain climbingWe asked Harri what the hardest part of the ride is, and her answer was quick and simple.

"Weather extremes! Going from 40 degrees while taking on the toughest climbs of the Tour de France, to pouring rain on a high Alps pass with our limbs locked in position by the cold."

It's in moments like these – far, far from home, without any support besides a 2002 Transit van – that the cyclists realise their journey would be impossible without the hospitality of thousands of people across Europe, people who welcome the dishevelled rain-soaked, sun-burnt riders with open arms.

Harri said: 

"We found a log cabin cafe run by an elderly French couple on that freezing Alpine pass, with endless hot chocolate and radiators. Actually, that might have been a hallucination, but either way it was amazing!"

Thighs of Steel fountain dunking
Hot chocolate hospitality is what keeps the cyclists going, as well as the thought of all the money they are raising to help refugees – people who simply aren't allowed to cycle so freely across the continent.

"The refugee crisis requires a two-fold response at the moment. There's still a massive need for emergency aid across Europe – nutritious food, housing and clothes – but there's also a growing need for long-term support to face complex challenges, like building a new life in a new country and on a very small budget." 

Which is exactly where The Bike Project comes in.

"We use bikes to raise money to donate to refugee projects, and The Bike Project uses money to donate bikes to refugees – seems like one great cycle!'

You can help Thighs of Steel reach their target by making a donation on their Help Refugees campaign

If all this talk of Alpine air and mountain passes inspires you to take on a similar challenge, why not consider doing it in aid of The Bike Project? We have a range of fundraising resources to support you and will be cheering you on every step of the way. 

Visit our Fundraising Resources page for further information.  

Thighs of Steel Col d'Aspin

Written on: 13 Sep 2019 | Author: David Charles

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