I have nothing against charities or charitable giving – I give to charities (I even bought the Band-Aid single) – and I recognise that most of them do good work and are not profligate or wasteful of the donations they receive.
But … I do resent the way that the Prudential Ride London Surrey has been hijacked by charities and sponsored riders.
I believe that the event should first and foremost be for people who like riding their bikes. Many thousands of people enter and only a small proportion get a place but charities seem to get guaranteed places. Why? There are plenty of pure charity rides and if you want to donate money to McMillan or Scope or Cancer Research then by all means do so. As soon as I got rejected in the ballot both last year and this (and yes I did donate my entry fee to charity so I could get a cheap, tacky jersey with Prudential Ride written on it) I was inundated with emails from charities offering me a guaranteed place if I would commit to raising money. Maybe you’re not but I’m uneasy about hassling family and my small circle of friends for £1000 or so just so I get to ride a jolly through the Surrey countryside.
If people want to ride and raise money for charity then by all means let them, but let’s open the Prudential Ride to the thousands of people who just want to cycle on closed roads and ride up Box Hill in front of cheering crowds.
PS Although rejected in the ballot for the third year in a row, I was lucky enough to get a place on the Old Ports race team for the event so I rode it this year for the first time – and a cracking day it was too.
Make sure you enter the ballot – who knows, you could be one of the lucky ones.