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New Ford RideLondon-Essex schools initiative aims to inspire more children and young people to cycle

Ford RideLondon has today (Friday 1 March) announced a new virtual event aimed at promoting cycling in schools for the world’s greatest festival of cycling in 2024. 

The Ford RideLondon-Essex 100-mile Challenge in Schools encourages schools and education settings to get their pupils to cycle a combined 100-mile distance between Monday 20 May and Friday 24 May – the day of the start of Ford RideLondon weekend.
The challenge, which can be completed collectively as a school community or at home, means that Ford RideLondon-Essex will be bigger than ever in 2024, as school children across the country join in with the challenge of completing the iconic 100-mile distance, while supporting active travel. 

The challenge was announced at Churchfields Junior School, in Redbridge, London, with 500 children in attendance. 

Chris Boardman, National Active Travel Commissioner at Active Travel England and Chair of Sport England, said: “RideLondon is always a brilliant event on the sportive calendar, giving thousands of cyclists the opportunity to explore our capital and its surrounding countryside, while raising money for good causes.  

“It’s so important that we show our kids how much freedom and independence cycling can bring and, by inspiring our children to get out on their bikes, we can enable more families to make healthier and greener travel choices.” 

Hugh Brasher, Event Director at London Marathon Events, said: “Ford RideLondon continues to grow and inspire more people across communities to be active, and it is hugely important that includes children and young people. This initiative means those who aren’t old enough to ride one of our iconic challenge rides can still complete the distance, while doing something so beneficial for their mental and physical health and helping to reduce carbon emissions at the same time. I am truly excited to see more young people on their bikes and taking part in the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100-mile Challenge in Schools.” 

On Sunday 26 May, tens of thousands of bike enthusiasts of all ages, abilities and backgrounds will take to the roads of central and east London, and Essex. More than 20,000 amateur riders will be taking on one of three mass participation challenge rides – the iconic Ford RideLondon-Essex 100, plus 60 and 30-mile distances, while FreeCycle welcomes tens of thousands more to enjoy cycling on eight miles of traffic-free roads through the capital. Entries are open for the 100, 60 and 30-mile events, with more information here.
On the two preceding days, thousands of spectators are expected to line the streets of Essex to cheer on the world’s best female cyclists on the first two stages of the Ford RideLondon Classique before the final stage in central London on 26 May. 

One of the teams racing in the UCI Women’s WorldTour event is Doltcini O’Shea. Commonwealth and European Games medallist and former British champion Hayley Simmonds, plus local climber and former Classique participant Connie Hayes attended Churchfields Junior School to launch the 100-mile Challenge, discussing the value of active travel and to offer inspirational stories to the youngsters. 

Rebecca Emeny, Headteacher at Churchfields Junior School, said: “The visit from Doltcini O’Shea riders was inspirational and showed the children the values of daily activity and teamwork. We are looking forward to taking part in the 100-mile challenge and continuing to encourage the children to take part in active travel initiatives.” 

The challenge incorporates learning facts about well-known sights and places on the route by using an interactive map. It can also be integrated into a school’s Daily Mile activity – which encourages running, jogging, wheeling or walking for 15 minutes – and provide children with the opportunity to access the recommended 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity. Furthermore, it can be built into TfL’s Travel for Life Programme, which supports primary and secondary children to become more active, responsible and road safe. 

Schools that successfully complete the distance will receive a certificate, downloadable badge and entry into a prize draw to win active travel prizes. Fifteen minutes of activity equates to one mile travelled, with 100 miles the target. For example, if 30 pupils in a class each complete 15 minutes of exercise, this equates to 30 miles completed in total to put towards the target of 100 miles. 

Schools will receive an information pack once they register and can encourage participation through various means. These include walking, cycling, scooting to and/or from school, organising Bikeability training during the week and including any after school activities in their total. 

Full information on the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100-mile Challenge in Schools can be found here, including details on registering and how activity can count towards other school activity programmes.