As Russian forces are driven out of Ukraine, the horrifying stories of what they did after they took control come to light. But the danger still isn’t over for those living in these areas.
Up to 160,000 square kilometres of Ukraine is thought to be contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance. If you’re struggling to conceptualise how large that is, think of how large Greater London is. Then multiply it by one hundred.
If you’re American, think of Florida. 160,000 sq km is larger than the Sunshine State in its entirety. It is a huge area.
I heard Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) CEO Darren Cormack speaking about how often it is children that are the victims of these mines. Their parents tell them not to go in the areas that are thought to be mined, and children being children do exactly what they are told not to. The results are life-changing or life-ending.
As Lesia and Darren spoke, I thought of my son, Finn. He’s just turned five. When I tell him not to do something, the first thing he does is do it.
So I’m fundraising for MAG, to support their work removing landmines in Ukraine, in the hope that it will contribute to making the return home less dangerous for Ukrainian children. I want to raise £20,000 - enough to remove around 40 landmines and the damage they could cause.
What I'm doing
I'll be cycling from London, UK to Lviv, Ukraine. These are the two cities where my colleagues at Cast From Clay work, and colleagues will be joining me for the first day (London to Dover) and the last (the Polish-Ukrainian border to Lviv).
In total it’s a 2,000km ride. I’ll be doing this in 14 days of riding, plus 2 rest days. It’s an average distance of 140km and elevation of 700m per day. The route will look something like this:
Westminster (UK) to Dover - 127km
Calais (FR) to Ghent (BE) - 150km
Ghent to Weert (NL) - 158km
Weert to Dortmund (DE) - 143km
Dortmund to Borgholz - 140km
Borgholz to Nordhausen - 134km
Nordhausen to Wurzen - 155km
Wurzen to Hochkirch - 143km
Hochkirch to Jawor (PL) - 132km
Jawor to Kluzbork - 166km
Kluzbork to Koniecpol - 116km
Koniecpol to Mielec - 162km
Mielec to Budomierz - 147km
Budomierz to Lviv (UA) - 70km
Organisations that are helping
I'm hugely grateful to Matt at Revamp Bikes who has sprayed the bike that I'll be riding in the colours of the Ukraine and UK flags. It looks awesome (pic in the gallery at the top of this page). Check out his other work at https://revampbikes.co.uk/
The producers of the GB Cycling Kit, Kalas Sportswear, have also been exceptionally kind and will be supplying a custom UK/UA kit for the ride (designs also in the gallery). Big thanks to Miro and Trevor for making it happen. You can find out more about Kalas and their custom kits at https://www.kalas.co.uk/customized-production
How you can help
There are two ways you can help. The first is to hit the button on the right and donate! No matter how large or small, every pound and dollar counts (goes without saying: all funds raised go to MAG, I will be paying all my equipment/food/accommodation costs).
For those of you who are able to donate larger amounts, it costs £500 on average for a landmine to be safely cleared.
The second, for the cyclists among you, is to join me on the first day from London to Dover (on Fri 28th April) and help promote the ride to increase fundraising. The more the merrier.