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The Together We Ride team at Ford RideLondon




Community stories at the heart of the 2024 Ford RideLondon-Essex challenge rides

Cycling affinity groups and individuals from ethnically diverse communities are coming together to celebrate their love of cycling and gearing up to take on the 100-mile challenge at the 2024 Ford RideLondon-Essex.  

Every year, community cycling groups take on the challenge rides – either the 100, 60, or 30-mile distance – and 2024 is no different. Other groups taking part in Ford RideLondon-Essex this weekend include Brothers on Bikes, Cycle Sisters, Ride 4 Unity, Hope & Knowledge, Evolve, Fund Her Tri and Cycle Together.  

Together We Ride (TWR), which is one of the leading community cycling groups in London, will start rides from various locations across the heart of the capital to allow all of its members – who come from various boroughs across the city – to take part.  

Using the power of cycling to improve physical and mental wellbeing, the TWR community leads social rides twice a week in London, with 44 of their members taking part in Ford RideLondon-Essex this year, with 24 taking on the 100-mile challenge.  

Wayne Francis, 48, is the founder of TWR, having discovered his love for cycling in May 2020, in particular the sense of freedom and adventure it offered. However, the lack of diversity in the cycling community led Wayne on a mission to improve diversity in the sport by reaching out to underrepresented communities and encouraging them to give cycling a try.  

“Amid the challenges of lockdown, Together We Ride emerged as a vibrant community platform, inviting cyclists from all walks of life to unite in their love for cycling,” he says. “Beyond mere participation, TWR is dedicated to nurturing the growth and skill development of its members within the sport.  

“The TWR community flourished, attracting cyclists who previously felt excluded from mainstream events. Our inclusive approach empowers individuals to embrace cycling as both a sport and a lifestyle.  

“In 2024, Ford RideLondon-Essex has inspired TWR to expand its cycling training initiatives. Our vision has always been to create an inclusive space where people from all walks of life share their passion for cycling, breaking down barriers and fostering unity within the cycling community.  

“Through innovation and unwavering commitment, TWR champions diversity and accessibility, ensuring everyone experiences the joy of cycling and reaches their goals, both on and off the saddle.”  

One man who knows Ford RideLondon well is Chude Egbuniwe. Chude, 55, from Brixton, has been a key figure in improving the accessibility of cycling in his community and founded Rough Rider Velo (RRV) in 2011, based mainly in south London as London’s oldest affinity cycling group, with 107 official members as well as many more affiliated riders.  

Sunday will be Chude’s eighth participation in the 100-mile ride, but he said his love for cycling took hold on his daily commute.   

“I started cycling by accident,” says Chude. “I was doing what I thought was a normal daily commute of about 18 to 25 miles each way. I happened to notice there was a bike shop on my road that did a weekly ride and that became my go-to place.”  

Chude started socialising with other cyclists and after sharing his story, he decided to attend the weekly bike shop ride, where his passion was ignited. The shop started its own club, Penge Cycling Club, leading him to become a member. As part of the club, Chude took part in a variety of different events, such as fast rides and longer rides on Sundays – it was here that he discovered his passion for distance and hills cycling across Kent.  

Chude, who grew up in Dallas, Texas and experienced racism firsthand, said he realised just how much he loved cycling when he took part in his first London to Brighton ride. However, he felt a mixture of emotions as he felt proud to be riding with a plethora of different people, while also coming to the realisation that there weren’t many people from ethnically diverse communities compared to the total amount of people he encountered every day.  

“I took it upon myself to make conversation with every cyclist that I saw riding on their own, and would ask if they rode with any club, and if not, if they’d care to join me and a few friends on a ride,” Chude says. "All I wanted was for people to have the same intense passion for cycling that I had.”  

Chude says that he feels fortunate that he was able to convince people to ride with him and Rough Rider Velo was born. “I think what sets us apart from other groups is that we’re extremely welcoming, we have been known to break our pace to assist others we see struggling or at the roadside with an issue. We want to help and open up this sport to as many people as possible.  

“I love RideLondon because not only do I get to see my local friends, but I also get to meet friends from around the world - especially those from Nigeria and the Major Taylor club riders that come from the breadth of America. The community vibes we experience when riding in the event, through the villages and high streets, is simply amazing.   

“The impact large-scale events like RideLondon have is the exact reason I started RRV. I felt if it was known that I was riding an event, that more people would feel inclined and inspired to do bike events. I wanted to create a welcoming place and to share my passion with everyone and get them to realise that the bike was made for one simple thing; and that is enjoying the freedom of outdoors and the benefits to both physical health and mental health that it provides.”