Simon Alvarez Belon and Mark van der Boor

Simon & Mark's 2023 Thighs of Steel Fundraiser

Fundraising for MASS Action
raised of €6,000 target
by 100 supporters
Donations cannot currently be made to this page
Event: Glasgow to Athens 2023, from 14 July 2023 to 17 September 2023
Europe's longest charity bike ride: 5,400km from Glasgow to Athens and raising money for grassroots projects with dignified and sustainable initiatives for migrants and asylum seekers


For Dutch people there is a link to Tikkie here:


This again?

Yes, we’re back. We've got so much in store for 2023; you can read all the details below, but it boils down to more fundraising, more kilometers, and more adventure

Wait, this is the first I’m hearing of Thighs of Steel and En Route Au Croissant, what’s it all about?

In 2022 we - Simón & Mark - set ourselves the goal of cycling from Utrecht to Paris in less than 48 hours to fundraise for grassroots projects helping displaced people, all through the Thighs of Steel project.

Although it was by no means an easy journey, we managed to hit our fundraising target of €4,000 AND make it to Paris in 34 hours. The only thing that tops this already great news, is that with the whole Thighs of Steel crew, we collectively fundraised a grand total of £114,632 bringing us well above the original target of 80k!!! Of course, this was only possible thanks to our very generous supporters that donated what they could.

Ok cool, but that all sounds very 2022, what’s happening this year?

For 2023, our fundraising goal has grown to €6,000, but so has the amount/lunacy of challenges that we’re setting ourselves up for in hopes that they’ll get you to donate money to displaced people.

Here’s the  short version of what’s ahead:

  1. Simon Races the ultra-endurance GranGuanche Gravel Audax in the Canary Islands in 4 days (700km – 16,000 elevation – hopefully 4 days)

  2. Simon cycles the Peak District Hardest Hundred Century Ride (162km – 3500 elevation – 10 hours)

  3. For the main event of the year, we’ll ride together from Utrecht to Paris in under 24 hours - yes you read that right, and no, we’re also not sure it’s actually going to be fun. (510 km – 2,000 elevation – <24 hours)

  4. In July we’ll race the ultra-endurance Basajaun 2023 through the Basque country and try to put up a fight for the pairs’ podium. (780km – 15,000 elevation – who knows?)

  5. And finally, we’ll cycle from Milan to Trieste across the dreamy Dolomites with the rest of the Thighs crew that have also been hard at work fundraising.  (700 km – 12,000 elevation, 6 days)

Sorry, that short version wasn’t so short after all, it’s hard to cram all that into one sentence. Essentially, we’ll be doing about 4,000 kilometers of riding/racing (not counting training and preparation) with the ultimate goal of getting all of YOU to donate as much money as possible to help displaced people live more dignified and just lives. Our fundraising goal? A whopping €6,000 euros. It’ll be a long road to get there, but we’re excited for the challenge!

Where does this money go to?

The full amount of your donation will be distributed by 
MASS Action to grassroots projects that support refugees in the UK, Greece, and beyond. That means every penny counts so don't forget to Gift Aid if you're eligible.

In 2022 the whole Thighs crew raised £114,632! With all of that, 16 grassroots projects were supported, including a large grant to Khora Athens, the solidarity community center that Thighs of Steel was originally set up to support. The remaining funds were split between 7 projects receiving £5,000 or over (medium grants), and another 8 receiving amounts less than £5,000 (small grants).

If you’re keen to find out more about how the money gets distributed, click here.

Why are we going to Paris specifically, and why is that the main event? 

Besides having studied together for 5 years, the main thing that brings us together is our love for guzzling down a good croissant. To our demise, Utrecht has none. Thus, last year we decided to make our way to the French capital searching for the best of the best french croissants. Sounds logical right?

It’s safe to say that the Parisian croissants did NOT disappoint. After the grueling 550-kilometer journey we feasted on 8 warm, buttery, mouth-watering delicacies. As we gobbled them down one after another however, we started to realize that no amount of croissants would quench our hunger, because it wasn’t a hunger for food after all, but rather hunger for another bigger, wilder, and more ludicrous adventure. So besides all of the other challenges we have lined up for the year, we decided we couldn’t let 2023 go by without doubling down on our Utrecht to Paris Audax challenge.

While doing 550 kilometers in 34 hours is an impressive feat for most, those that run in the adventure-cycling circle wouldn’t bat an eyelid at such an achievement. Utrecht to Paris in under 24 hours is, however, a very different story. Accomplishing this goal will mean riding through the night, not taking breaks, and cycling at speed throughout the whole journey. We’ll need to apply everything we learned about training, gear, packing, and riding last year (and some more) to succeed and accomplish this ride worthy of a true Audax / ultra-endurance rider.

We realize we are very privileged to be able to choose to put ourselves through this, which is why we aim to raise money through our short journey. Unfortunately, people that are unjustly displaced and have to leave behind their homes also have to then face xenophobic border policies. We hope to motivate you to support a variety of grassroots projects to make refugees' journeys safer and more humane.

I love this project and want to support it, but can’t afford a big donation right now – what else can I do?

First things first, please
share this project as widely as you can! Think of family, friends, or colleagues that you think might resonate with our mission and would like to contribute. This year we’re also looking for corporate sponsorships so if you know of a company or business that would like to collaborate with us, please reach out.

Secondly, this year we’re introducing Croissant Fundraising Champions (CFC for short). 

Now, what in the world is a CFC, and why should I choose to be one?

Reaching our fundraising target last year was a big challenge and took a lot of hard work. We recognize that if we want to fundraise €2000 more, we won’t be able to do it alone.

A Croissant Fundraising Champion is anyone that strongly resonates with the cause, wants to contribute to our project but can’t afford to donate much, and is excited about taking on the challenge of fundraising money to reach our target. If you’ve been wanting to dedicate some of your free time to helping others, but haven’t found a simple, clear way of doing it, here’s your chance!

Essentially, a CFC will pledge to fundraise a certain amount and work hard to reach that goal before our deadline of August 18. We’re hoping that this way we can build a family of people that care about this project and can become part of it, as well as have a bigger impact. Of course, we will happily work with all CFCs to brainstorm different ways they can go about fundraising and act as a team along the way! Click here for some fundraising inspiration!

All CFCs will become part of our little Croissant family; besides sharing the joy of making funds available for such important projects, CFCs will get some En Route Au Croissant merch and goodies as a thank-you for their efforts. If you have any questions about how this all works, shoot us an email!

I want to donate, but I have a Dutch Bank Account and can’t pay using this platform, what can I do?

Unfortunately, the JustGiving platform doesn't support payment with iDeal. To remedy this for all of our Dutch friends, we have set up a link that you can use to transfer the money.

You can send us your desired donation amount through Tikkie. This link redirects you to a Tikkie which is a platform that is commonly used in the Netherlands to transfer money. Any amount that gets transferred to that account will be manually added to this fund.

We will happily provide a receipt of the transfer for proof. If you have any questions or concerns about this process, don't hesitate to reach out.

Do you have any wild ideas about other ways we can fundraise, or have any questions about the project?

Shoot us an email:

Send us a message on Instagram: @en_route_au_croissant 

Thank you so much for your support. 

Much love,
Mark & Simón

About the campaign

Europe's longest charity bike ride: 5,400km from Glasgow to Athens and raising money for grassroots projects with dignified and sustainable initiatives for migrants and asylum seekers

About the charity

MASS Action

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RCN 1177804
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Donation summary

Total raised
+ €129.11 Gift Aid
Online donations
Offline donations

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