My experience of my first fundraising and cycling challenge!

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I always wanted to take part in Tour de Salah (a cycling challenge organised by an Islamic organisation. Salah translates to ‘prayer’) since it’s launch a few years ago. But it would usually coincide with when I’m abroad (and no, I wasn’t booking holidays to evade the challenge). This year I eventually embraced the challenge as well as embarking on my first ever fundraising for charity – to raise donations for Al Mustafa Welfare Trust’s eye restoration programme which works to cure and prevent blindness in third world countries.

Initial mental barriers

I had no excuse to not take part in the cycling challenge given that I profusely enjoy cycling – over short distances and going downhills, I should add. Yet I found nerves and anxiety kicking in leading me to procrastinate over whether to sign up for the challenge. I found the fear of fundraising towards my own set target more horrifying than the physical cycling challenge. Then I reminded myself of a reassuring and calming question to ask myself – what’s the worst that can happen?

Fundraising challenge

027378Once I signed up, to my surprise, I found a new buzz within me. I felt eager when creating my fundraising page. As I started to share my page and ask friends, families and colleagues for support I found my initial nerves evaporate.

People responded effusively and espoused the cause I was fundraising for. It was encouraging to hear from various people that they ‘wished that they could have been the first to sponsor me’. I also received hilarious remarks such as ‘could you not think of better and less brutal ways to fundraise’ and ‘better you cycle around London than me’.

The most heart touching aspect of the challenge was people’s generosity. I was humbled when people swiftly responded to sponsoring me. I quickly realised that my perceived ‘ambitious’ target was derisory and would be blown away. People’s unbridled generosity led me to uplifting my fundraising target repeatedly. In the end I raised, thanks to all my friends, family and colleagues, 6 times more than my initial target; and had more than three times the number of sponsors than I had envisaged.

Cycling training

With the enduring challenge awaiting me, I knew I had to build my stamina. I had around 5 cycling training sessions to get ready for 60km. I started training with a few friends and joined a newly formed cycling club ‘Green Stars’ which is opened to all and part of Palmers Green (north London) Mosque and Community and Education Centre.

For the training, we covered town roads, country roads and climbed hills (I didn’t like the latter). After the rides, I’d naturally be physically exhausted. However, a greater challenge than the cycling was the sacrifice of my invaluable morning lie ins on weekends (it’s super painful waking up on a Sunday morning but on the other hand we’d face clear roads with few cars – a haven for cyclists).

Cycling Challenge Day i.e Judgement Day

Around 130 people, from all backgrounds, ages, fitness levels, took part in the cycling challenge ride across 4 categories (15km, 30km, 60km and 100km). When I arrived at the departing point (Palmers Green Mosque) I was aroused by seeing the flotilla of bikes, it felt like being a kid in a candy shop. The organisers from IBE and BOB (Amy, Amjad, Glen, Andrea amongst others) briefed all participants on cycling as a group and the do’s and don’ts to ensure safety of not just us but also the public.027909

We (60km group) departed Palmers Green, North London at 11am, returning back around 5.30pm (on the same day!). The first big challenge of the ride was a few kms into the ride when we climbed the notoriously steep hill in Alexandra Palace. At the top, we were rewarded to the beautiful views of London. Next we rode towards Westminster. I felt like a tourist cycling past London’s top attractions and beautiful buildings including cycling across Tower Bridge on our way to the first stop at Southwark Mosque.

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After a snack and prayer break, we then rode towards West London. The route involved crossing Lambeth Bridge, cycling through Green Park passing Buckingham Palace and onto Hyde Park. Our next break including lunch was at Harrow mosque. Following this, we headed back to North London where we had to face a few hills en route.

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Although 60km is a long distance, the cycle ride did not feel incessant nor insipid. The various types of roads, scenery and attractions kept me exhilarated. Arriving back at Palmers Green, there were photographers and videographers awaiting us. The organisers beautifully wrapped up the day with a closing ceremony.

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The organisers had emphasised that this was not to be a race, rather a ride. I thought they were showing hubris and wondered to myself how could they constrain a group of men (and possibly some females) from following their competitive drive and not embroil in a full out cycling battle across London. Yet, the organisers did a superb job by providing a group leader and group facilitator to keep the ride orderly, safe, friendly, provide support and meticulously ensured every participants’ needs were met. The organisers provided snacks and lunch at break spots and a meal at the end of the cycle ride.

Overall experience

My first ever experience of a challenge fundraise was humbling, exciting and most importantly enjoyable. The demands, determinations and achievement of completing both the cycling and fundraising challenge led to self-fulfilment.

Thanks to all my family, friends and colleagues I raised over £2,000 via around 65 sponsors; and Green Stars cycling club who supported me in building my fitness to meet the challenge.
I would encourage all readers to get on their bikes and participate in future Tour De Salah rides; and to not underestimate the support of those around you. If you are passionate about a cause, most people will contribute towards helping you to achieve your goal.

Muhammed Fahad Khaliq

A New Event Partner

IBE are delighted to confirm that the main event partner for this year’s Tour de Salah will be MADE (Muslim Action for Development and the Environment)!

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In their own words: “Since it was founded in 2009, MADE has been engaged in ground-breaking campaigns, developing and delivering our ‘Changemakers’ campaign training, and running faith based educational activities for young Muslims linked to social action. Much of this work has been with an environmental focus – including challenges like Tour de Salah! MADE is now building a brand new programme that provides social action opportunities for young British Muslims across the UK and recognises their positive contributions.”

Find out more about MADE and how you can support them by cycling for them in Tour de Salah 2017.  Register now and select them for your chosen charity.

The Routes!

We are very excited to announce the provisional routes for Tour De Salah 2017! Click here to see the routes for each distance, including a map and a link to a detailed GPS version of each route.

Each route may be subject to small changes, but we hope that the main elements of the routes will remain the same. All updates and news about the routes will be updated on the Tour De Salah website as soon as possible.

This year we have worked hard to ensure that all of the routes take in some of the natural scenery and landmarks of the capital providing a varied and exciting experience for each rider.

We expect places to get booked up very quickly for this unique challenge so make sure you do not delay and sign up today.

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Organise your Local Tour De Salah

dsc00161Do you want to get more involved in Tour De Salah but live outside of London? Why not organise your own local Tour De Salah event instead?  In 2017 we want to see Tour De Salah grow and get even more cyclists across the UK involved.  In London we are expanding the ride to include multiple distances that suit different abilities and backgrounds, from 15km to 100km, and having a family ride.  We want to see even more people involved with this exciting event and become part of the growing Tour De Salah community.

Do you enjoy cycling as part of group or putting on local events?  Then this could be the opportunity for you! Find out more and how to get involved.

Tour De Salah 2017

14289840_10153651896182127_3109664115097271651_oTour De Salah is back on Saturday 9th September 2017!  Now in its fourth year we decided to make a few changes to this incredible event to open it up to even more cyclists across the UK.

Some of the new features include:

  • A choice of 4 routes with distances of 15km, 30km, 60km or the whole 100km
  • Cycling in a group with experienced riders or instead riding the route at your own pace
  • Checkpoints to ensure you stay on track
  • Fundraising for charities of your choice
  • Fairer rides with competency and gender based groups

This incredible day will be alongside a fun filled mela that will welcome non-cyclists and families to get involved.  There are only 300 spaces and you do not want to miss out on this amazing event.  Register today before it is too late.

City Circle on Tour de Salah 2016!

We are so excited to announce that City Circle have now also signed up to be a part of Tour De Salah 2016. You can now sign up to fundraise for this incredible charity by clicking here.

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In their own words:

“The City Circle is an open circle for open minds where individuals are pushed to think outside the box. It provides a safe space for communities to self-critically discuss and debate issues that concern them. It is open to the public, all Muslim and non-Muslim opinions are welcome. Whatever your faith and whatever your politics, the City Circle remains a home for everyone. We are an independent and inclusive space.

The City Circle offers no doctrinal solutions but instead a space to explore new ideas and a place to ask questions:  to challenge and be challenged. That is how we believe creative, confident and dynamic communities develop.”

To find out more information visit www.thecitycirlce.com

Charity Right on Tour De Salah 2016!

We are so excited to announce that charity right have signed up to be a part of Tour De Salah 2016. You can now sign up to fundraise for this incredible charity by clicking here.

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In their own words:

“Charity Right are an international charity providing regular school meals to some of the poorest school children living in Sudan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia. By providing regular school meals we ensure that children are nourished and healthy enough to attend school, learn attentively without hunger pains and complete their education.

Charity Right believe that every child has the right to eat, to live a healthy life and contribute towards society. By providing food we enable more children to access an education and brighten their future.”

Why not support them today by taking part in Tour De Salah and choosing them for your chosen charity? Book your place today.

Let the competition begin

Tour De Salah FundraisingTour De Salah is happening for the 3rd year on Saturday 6th August and for the first year ever will be showcasing the top fundraisers by rewarding top places with different prizes. Ranging from an Olive Tree being planted in their name to vouchers from local restaurants you will not want to miss out!

We will be letting all participants know about their competition through an online leadership board that will be updated daily and regular emails.

You can take part as an individual or as part of a team so why not get all of your friends and family involved to win that top prize!

 

Tour De Salah 2016

TDS 2015On Saturday 3rd September Tour De Salah is back for its 3rd year! I am lucky enough that this will be my second year Project Managing this unique and exciting challenge that sees up to 300 participants cycling 100km across London stopping to 5 iconic Mosques along the way.

I have to admit that prior to be involved with this event I struggled to see the appeal of cycling. Despite being taught to ride a bike from a young age in my grandparents back garden since I had left school I had never even thought about picking up a bike again – let alone getting involved with one of the largest Muslim organised bike rides in Europe! But this all changed when I started working at MADE last March. Suddenly I was thrust into the cycling world and the buzz from the participants both before and during the challenge was infectious.

This event is not just about being a cyclist but it is intrinsically linked to your faith as a Muslim. It gives you the feeling of belonging to a community and world bigger than your back garden that is so often forgotten in the world today. It is rare to be involved in an event that is both a physical and spiritual challenge that pushes not only your physical ability but your spiritual relationship with Allah.

From the courage shown by people who finished the 100km despite only having cycled a handful of times in their lives, to the way everyone encourages each other to carry on through the challenge and the emotions felt when they crossed the finish line – this event is a game changer for anyone who takes part. This event can completely change your life and give you the priceless experience of experiencing the spirit of Islam – community, comradeship and faith in Allah. What else could you ask for?

Either register today by clicking here or volunteer for the event by emailing amy@made.ngo

“Tour de Salah: A Defining Moment in my Life Journey”

DSC02533_0fbd1874bea3543cf8f5ba3d584a9ed2 On Saturday 5th September alongside 70 people, I took part in the 2nd Tour de Salah, Europe’s largest organised Muslim bike ride. We rode over 100 km stopping at 5 mosques throughout the day for prayer and as advertised it really was “a physical and spiritual challenge like no other”.

We took in a vast array of London’s sights and abundance of green spaces from the Big Ben to deer-filled Richmond Park (Sadly, for me , anyway, there is a planned cull of Deer populations, Oh Deer!). Our route then snaked up the tortuous hills of Swains Lane and Alexandra Palace. To the astonishment of the flabbergasted, yellow lycra-clad brigade atop their shiny bicycles, I ascended these hills on my fixed-gear bike (which I affectionately call the ‘granny’) faster than them! It is not always the bike that you use but the intention of the person on it and the love and emotional investment put into that bike. This realisation imparted a profound wisdom; we should strive for excellence and achieve our goals regardless of the tools or circumstances we are given. It is therefore our desire to win, no matter the obstacle that distinguishes us.

For me, the entire initiative marked a visible communal commitment of undertaking lifestyle changes to tackle climate change and other forms of environmental and social injustice. It perfectly embodied MADE’s Green-up campaign which encourages mosques and community members to live up to Islam’s lofty environmental standards, especially in our divinely-appointed role as stewards on the earth.

Entire committees at London Muslim Centre, Palmers Green and Kingston mosques kindly hosted us at their mosques providing us with abundant food and drink. Being a young person, I am often confronted with mosque committees’, often dominated by a cabal of elderly men and lack of engagement with the youth. It was refreshing to witness these mosques’ willingness to embrace change and their role as disseminators of Islam’s pristine environmental message. The Tour de Salah initiative therefore represented a positive alternative for mosques’ future communal and environmental engagement.

The sheer camaraderie and support set the tone for such a glorious day of cycling. I strongly felt that MADE’s staff and volunteers and Ibn Battuta were with us at every step of the way, from the abundant supplies of food to the professional support given by the cycling instructors. This all fostered an atmosphere of support and encouragement that in turn generated miracles. For instance, I spoke to one lady that managed to cycle the entire 100 kilometres despite only having little previous experience of continuous cycling, 10 minutes to be exact. Further, MADE opened the floor for the participation of other charities such as Islamic Relief, Human Appeal and Penny Appeal. It was at this instance, Sarah Javaid, MADE’s Executive Director captured the moment and the vision of the future. I share her vision that Tour de Salah will become a blueprint of institutional and sectarian unity, what we can achieve together when we are united in a vision to tackle environmental and social injustice once and for all.

Personally, my participation in Tour de Salah marked a defining moment in my life journey. It illustrated the culmination of 6 months of cycling. Despite originally being a decision to save money, cycling’s environmental and physical benefits quickly became apparent. I must thank Amy, Usman and Zinia for press-ganging me into signing up for Tour de Salah. Previously, I was only accustomed to cycling 25 miles in a day, the challenge required 60 miles. Sometimes, I guess one never truly knows what wondrous feats they are capable of until they are thrown (unceremoniously if need be) into the deep end. I owe it to the aforementioned three for recognising my potential to reach greater heights.

Finally, I thoroughly look forward to next year’s Tour de Salah, which God willing, will be bigger and better. We are making great strides as a community with regards to recognising climate change, from the Eco fair in mid-August, to the Istanbul Islamic Declaration on Climate Change and of course last week’s launch of the Muslim Climate Action coalition at the Houses of Parliament. I pray that we can embark successfully on these tides of change.

Salahuddin Mahzary, 2015 Tour De Salah Participant