By Sejal Sharma, Guest Contributor
Does it take 500 miles to cycle around Leicester? Sejal Sharma from Leicester gets on her bike to find out why a group of 39 girls were cycling 500 miles around the city.
On Saturday 30 August over 500 people gathered at St Margaret’s Pastures to offer their support to 39 cyclists participating in the exciting 500-mile sponsored cycle challenge.
The cyclists were all girls aged between 14 and 23 years, who were raising funds to buy sports equipment and support health and recreational activities for young Asian women.
I went with my bike to join the girls and was surprised to see so many people. Well-wishers had arrived to offer their encouragement and participate in the fun and rewarding day.
A series of fun activities had been organised for the children including a bouncy castle, face painting, and sports games.
There was also a strong focus on health awareness promoted through stalls from charities such as The Heart UK, Diabetes UK, The British Heart Foundation, Breast Cancer and Asthma UK.
The whole event had been organised by a group of young girls with the support of Leicester City Council and The Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) – UK’s National Cyclists' organisation, which works to promote cycling by working with community groups and schools to help raise awareness of the health, social and environmental benefits of cycling.
CTC had kindly donated bicycles, helmets, mile counters and also provided a great deal of advice and support to this event.
Elizabeth Barner from CTC says: "I was really very impressed with the way the girls took this challenge to cycle 500 miles! It showed a clear vision for them to take care of themselves and the community too. They demonstrated good leadership and organisation which resulted in a monumental event.
Dedication and Training
"It’s amazing how BAPS has given so much support for an event like this and also given the CTC a chance to help the girls get trained. It just showed how much dedication and effort was put into the whole event and training."
She explained: "The girls have been training for over a month now by regularly cycling on shorter routes. It has definitely kept everyone fit and active over the summer and they have also had fun cycling together and exploring different parts of Leicester."
BAPS performs more than 150 humanitarian activities through its 9,000 centres, 55,000 volunteers and has over one million followers worldwide. The funds being raised will also support educational, cultural, religious and health initiatives for youths, especially young women at the new Mandir (temple) & Cultural Complex being constructed at Gipsy Lane in Leicester.
Bhavika Parekh, who took part said it was challenging: "At the start I was a bit scared and nervous to take part in a big cycle challenge.
"But then I started training and cycling with my friends 2-3 days a week and it really made a difference. I became more motivated and excited and very determined."
In the end Bhavika actually managed to cycle an impressive 18 miles and was very proud of herself.
In the end the girls actually smashed the target and completed 654 miles in total.
last updated: 10/09/2008 at 11:16