Chris Davis, 19th June
Three weeks to go and excitement is building for the amazing adventure that awaits us with the Pan Celtic. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found a love of bicycles and the opportunities that being a fit and healthy cyclist brings. My garage is positively stuffed with bikes for all occasions: a run around for town, a mountain bike, a couple of road bikes, a Brompton for when commuting and a few more in the pipeline. Throw in bikes for the rest of the family and you’ve got quite a collection.
It’s all too easy to take this for granted. However, having spent most of my career in International Development, I’ve lived and worked in many poorer countries around the world and this experience has helped me appreciate how fortunate I am. In these circumstances, access to a humble bicycle can make a huge difference to accessing school and work, and transporting life’s essentials. But, for many, even a simple bicycle remains elusive due to affordability of buying one and then keeping it going.
A fantastic UK charity, aptly named Re-Cycle, is tackling this challenge and making a really big impact. Re-Cycle takes in unwanted bikes from around the UK and distributes them to partner organisations in seven African countries who in turn either donate them (such as to school children) or sell them at a very low cost (evidence is that this encourages careful ownership) to cover their own operational costs and to provide a distribution network for spares and mechanics training.
Just this past year, Re-Cycle celebrated shipment of their 100,000th bike. To get a sense of the scale of their operation, take a look at this recent picture of the warehouse –
Amazingly this operation is run by just 7 staff (a number of whom are part time) together with a cadre of around 30 amazing volunteers. I have the privilege of being the Chair of Trustees and know first-hand how dedicated this team is and how far they stretch meagre funds.
Here are a couple of my favourite pictures of the bikes in action:
I think the UN should amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include a right of access to a bike for all children!
This is extreme, professional level bike packing! We need these guys on the Pan Celtic.
So, as the Pan Celtic adventure draws closer, I’m very mindful of spreading a little cycling love (its good karma after all). If you have the time to take a closer look at the operations of Re-Cycle (this is their website address: https://www.re-cycle.org/) and are inspired by their work, then please do consider if you have a spare bike (or bikes!) to contribute (https://www.re-cycle.org/search-bikes) or even give a donation (https://www.re-cycle.org/donate/donate/10/credit-card ).