As a long-term supporter of ActionAid, British actor and comedian Hugh Dennis talks to us about his love of cycling and why you should get involved in the RideLondon-Surrey 100 cycling challenge this August. Because of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal at the weekend, we need your support more than ever.
When did you first get into cycling?
I've been cycling for as long as I can remember really. I got my first bike when I was seven and have never really got off. When I was a teenager I spent a summer cycling all the way from Devon to Wales!
I only started to ride sporting events about ten years ago though, when I noticed that I didn't see many older men running but I did see a huge number on bikes, and all of them looked happy to be doing it.
What do you enjoy most about cycling?
The feeling of freedom I think, and the fact that you don¹t have to wait for public transport.
What has been your biggest cycling challenge so far?
I have cycled the Etape a couple of times in the Pyrenees. The first time the road got so hot that it melted, and the second time it was so cold at the same spot in the hills that I had to cycle with ice on my arms.
What are your top tips for someone wanting to cycle?
Start gently. When I started I decided on a whim to cycle from North London to Sussex on a very heavy steel bike. I got as far as Haslemere before I had to lie down under a hedge and get someone to come and rescue me! A charity ride which offers different distances isn't a bad way to go.
What's so great about cycling RideLondon for ActionAid?
RideLondon is an amazing mass participation cycling event. There's a fantastic feeling of camaraderie with the other riders; there is the pleasure of overcoming the challenge of the Surrey Hills and the feeling of satisfaction at having supported a brilliant charity that are changing lives for good. So it is a win-win, even if you don't win!
How your fundraising will help
It's only thanks to the help of our amazing fundraisers that we're able to act fast when disasters strike. The earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday has damaged over 530,000 homes, meaning thousands of families have lost everything and are now forced to live outside in the cold.
Our teams are already on the ground in Nepal providing much needed aid to the worst affected communities.
Your RideLondon sponsorship could buy 100 tarpaulins to provide emergency shelter to protect families and keep them warm.
So whether you're already a keen cyclist or you've never been on a ride in your life, we'd love to have you on our RideLondon team. Registering is free but the deadline is Wednesday 6th May - so make sure you sign up quick!