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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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