Guest post: Ride the Change by Stuart Riches

Stuart Riches is the face behind Cranfield cycling and has been on all three of our cycle rides to COP!

Here he succinctly covers why he rode, what it was like and what impact it had.

Ride the change, what is it?

Last week I joined this group ride for the second, or maybe the third time if we count 2015 and COP21.

Ride the change is a multi-day supported ride across the country. When Paris was the last chance saloon in 2015 a few dedicated people trying to build a sustainability business, corralled a small group of activists to ride bikes from London to the Champs Elysées.

The choice of Glasgow as host for COP26 gave rebirth to the idea and last year 170 people rode from London to Glasgow. This year Sharm el_Sheikh made it difficult (although some have done it) so the ride followed a west-east journey from Swansea to Parliament square.

Why does it matter or perhaps what does it achieve?

That first ride to Paris motivated some of the participants to made a big leap, giving up on well payed corporate positions and striking out in the sustainability business. It is impressive to see how much has been achieved by these brave leaders since 2015.

Everybody on the ride has a different story to tell. The group is eclectic, it is becoming more diverse and the most important thing is that there is critical mass, making the event self-empowering. People fuel themselves, consuming the stories of the others, resolutions are made, we go home tired but stronger.

As outreach, riders collect climate pledges from colleagues family and friends, rather than the more obvious financial sponsor requests associated with charity events. The idea being to engage and build low level participation with a much wider audience.

As a statement, riding a bike in November, over quite respectable distances, often through harsh weather and into the dark of evening, whilst we seek to normalise it, does draw attention. Our first day was covered by ITV news in Wales and we have been followed through out this years ride by a BBC documentary team. 

Just don’t worry if you missed the ride this year. COP27 will not fix everything (anything?) and we need to do it again, please consider seriously joining us.

Joining the dots

Change needs relentless activism, but every act of cycling, whether it’s a commute, a shopping trip, or simply for leisure, is a tiny ripple that can become a wave and then a tide.

 

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