Story

 

UPDATE:

Well, I did it! You can read about my experiences on the Guardian's Bike Blog here. Thank you to everyone for their amazing support, kind words, "Chapeaus!", and of course donations — I've reached my target thanks to your generous giving.


 Special thanks goes to the good folk at the London Fixed-gear & Single-speed forumJohn Hitchcock for carrying my power tools, Kate Searle for keeping me company for the last few tiring hours and organising the coach back, JM for sharing his technical knowledge to do a MacGyver-style repair job should I have run into trouble, Jack Thurston (@thebikeshow) for inviting me to speak on his excellent radio show and whose podcast you should subscribe to, Rapha Racing for sorting me out some VERY nice kit to wear, Mule Bar for the tasty organic fuel, Holly for giving me a new iPhone so I wouldn't end up lost, The Guardian for asking me to write about this, Craig Charles / Don Letts / Tom Robinson / Dave Pearce / Laura Marling on BBC 6Music for keeping me moving and the morale high with music (and the BBC World Service), and most of all my mum for well, everything.


Obviously, I'd like to continue to raise as much as possible from having completed this, as every penny really counts for Shelter From The Storm. 

_____________________________________________________

 

For the past couple of years I've been spending Christmas helping out at the Crisis at Christmas homeless shelters. It's really opened my eyes up to how many vulnerable people are still living without a safe, warm place to sleep at night in such a wealthy city such as London. It's disturbing and upsetting that this is still the case, especially during the harsh winter months.

 

It is not known how many rough sleepers there are on the streets of London, but the figures are always underestimated. All of them risk violence, prostitution, drug addiction, alcoholism, disease, mental illness, breakdown, isolation and even death. This is a serious ongoing problem...

 

Last year, I participated on a ride called the Dunwich Dynamo in which over 1,000 cyclists joined in a 120-mile unsupported ride, into the night, from London all the way to Dunwich beach on the Suffolk coast. It took me around 10 hours and was the furtherest I'd ever cycled.

 

It was painful, tiring, and the nether regions were chaffed severely — but I felt good about making it. This year, I'd like to raise as much money as possible for these homeless, by taking this a step further and attempting (making) this on a London Cycle Hire bike (also sometimes referred to as a 'Boris bike'). 

 

When London's cycle hire bike scheme started shortly after last year's Dynamo, I joked about doing 2011's DD on one... and well now the time has come around, so I'm going to put my money where my mouth is.


Compared to what I was riding last year (a proper road racing bike), these bikes weigh 3 times more and are twice as slow... I really don't know what I'm getting myself into but oh well. Come rain, rail, or shine I'm going to well make it — or struggle trying at least.

 

Shelter From The Storm is a charity introduced to me by some friends whom I met at Crisis. They provide hot meals, showers and a warm bed to homeless people in London.


[watch the video here]


Unlike Crisis, SFTS is London's only free homeless shelter which is open all year round (24/7/365) and receives absolutely no funding, sponsorship or other help from the government. It is not affiliated with any other organisation, is run entirely by volunteers from the local community and is funded by donations alone.


SFTS also provides counselling, job search, healthcare, benefits advice, and immigration lawyers in a warm and loving enviroment with caring support from brilliant volunteers at the Caledonian Road night shelter.

 

It costs just £10 per night to give a safe dry bed, 2 course meal, shower, new clothes and support with employment prospects to a guest. 


Please consider your donation in the knowledge that it will make a massive directly applied difference to the people in our city who need it most. Homeless charities such as SFTS and Crisis do a wonderful job helping the homeless feel human again, when most of society ignores them.


I've been asked 'won't you be fined for taking the bike out of London?' The answer is 'Probably'. Transport for London charges £50 for 24 hours and I'm sure I will be back within that timeframe. Some very kind people on the London Fixed Gear & Single Speed (LFGSS) forum have offered to pitch in for the charge, or help me out some other way which i'm very grateful.


Two other challenges are is making it to the beach in time before the coach leaves back for London without me and also making it without getting a puncture or breakdown — apparently I will need an electronics manual and welding kit for any on-the-spot repairs...


I'd also like to dedicate this ride to Barry Mason, a volunteer co-ordinator for Southwark Cyclists, dedicated London cycle safety activist, and long-time organiser of the Dunwich Dynamo route and the return transport for many years. Unfortunately, Barry died only a few weeks ago while swimming off the coast of Spain.


P.S. If you'd like to help me out in any other way I'd very much appreciate it. Please get in touch by emailing me at complaints [-at-sign-] leotong.com


Also, thanks to the Big Sexy Festy Party on Saturday, 18 June (which I can't unfortunately make) for the inspiration. If you're in town please do go down as they're also doing a wonderful job raising money for SFTS.


Thanks for reading and your support.


Leo


Raising money for

Shelter From The Storm

Shelter From The Storm

Charity Registration No. 1125575

Shelter from the Storm is London's only free homeless shelter. Located in north London, we operate seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, providing in excess of 13,250 bed, breakfast and overnight accommodation places and we don’t get a penny from the government. Find out more at http://www.sfts.org.uk

Donations 93

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Donation by Jane, Kit & Mia on 01/08/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Congratulations on the ride, I only manage to potter London around on a Raleigh Broadwalk Lite, great achievement on a Boris Bike.

Donation by Mary Fowler on 01/08/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Congrats!

Donation by Ruth Billingham on 24/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Ha, great work mate, i wanna join you next year. But NOT on a boris bike.

Donation by sallyann, pads & honour on 22/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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ride like the wind my brother from another mother. come over for a feed soon.

Donation by on 21/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Heroic effort and a great write up...

Donation by Walm on 21/07/11

£20.00

+ £5.00 Gift Aid

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Nice one Leo. Was great seeing you on the ride - A nice bit of Laura Marling too!

Donation by Sam Callanan on 21/07/11

£20.00

+ £5.00 Gift Aid

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Seeing you on the Boris bike was definitely one of the highlights of the ride for me. Well done!

Donation by Malcolm Wills on 20/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Hat

Donation by Stephen Allport on 20/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Well done, Leo. Congratulations on passing the £1000 mark for this worthwhile cause, and don't let just one detractor worry you - the blog was fine.

Donation by Neil on 20/07/11

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well done, made me think I could actually do the DD on my own bike :-)

Donation by Angela Chalmers on 19/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Leo- fantastic ride, fantastic choice of bike, well done on the fundraising

Donation by Chris 2dogs Dunrun on 19/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Brilliant and quite mad. Congratulations and here's to doing it all again next year. The fry-up at the end was so worth it.

Donation by A happy biker on 19/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Excellent job. DD20 on a balance bike?

Donation by Joel Arrrgh! on 19/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Congratulations Leo - quite a feat!!

Donation by Kerena Fussell on 19/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Well done Leo. Scuse relatively stingy donation, times are tight. Having volunteered at SFTS I've seen for myself how every penny counts...

Donation by Helen McCormack on 18/07/11

£5.00

+ £1.25 Gift Aid

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Respect!

Donation by A wimp on an easy bike. on 18/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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I was very pleased to see you on the ride. Very brave, Very stupid, Totally admirable. Well done Leo!

Donation by Simon Godfrey on 18/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Good on yer x

Donation by Ruth Saxelby on 18/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Well done. I was looking out for you all night, but maybe passed you in the dark.... a £ for each mile....

Donation by shaun mcnamee on 18/07/11

£12.00

+ £3.00 Gift Aid

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Well done - you're magic!

Donation by Monica Franke on 18/07/11

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Awesome stuff, well done!!

Donation by @holytshirt on 18/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Saw you at Sible Hedingham, overtook you later! Well done superb effort. I'm also raising money http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulRodriguez

Donation by Paul Rodriguez on 18/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Top stuff, inspiring story. Props to @Harry Foster for intro.

Donation by Elis Matthews on 18/07/11

£10.00

+ £2.50 Gift Aid

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Great work!

Donation by Hugo Rumens on 18/07/11

£20.00

+ £5.00 Gift Aid

Donation summary

  • * Online donations£1,201.00
  • Offline donations£0.00
  • Text donations£0.00
  • Total raised£1,201.00
  • Gift Aid£247.75

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