It may sound a little mad and braving the cold night air you had to think it was. 1,500 cyclists waiting patiently in lycra to set off in 5 minute intervals from midnight to 1.30 am from the Ice Rink Car Park. Surely nobody would notice if they joined an earlier group. But as one Cyclist from South London put it, “We’re all rather British aren’t we, if someone says form a queue, we do. But it’s good fun cheering everyone off while we wait to start.”
There was a real festival atmosphere in front of the historic BBC tower as the event village welcomed arrivals to collect their bibs. It was here that we met with Sir Erich Reich, Managing Director of leading charity tour operator Classic Tours organisers of Nightrider™ (www.nightrider.org.uk) in partnership with Capital FM, who gave us the inside story on the event.
Sir Erich Reich: “It’s the 20th anniversary of Classic Tours and since we started over £70 million has been raised for different charities, through a whole range of events. This one is set to raise £1m tonight”
Ally Pally: How many people are taking place tonight as part of Nightrider?
Sir Erich Reich: “There are 1500 cyclists here right now, with another 1500 setting off from south London heading this way. They will all cycle a route of about 70 miles around London through the night.”
Ally Pally: Has this event been going on long?
Sir Erich Reich: “Three years. When we started there were only about 300 people taking part, that figure nearly doubled last year. Tonight we have 3000 cyclists helping to raise money for some 250 charities while everyone is asleep. It’s incredible.”
Ally Pally: With our view of the Olympic velodrome and the Nightrider route across the city, it’s great that so many people are starting out from Ally Pally
Sir Erich Reich: “We all love Ally Pally! It’s a great place to start and the views are spectacular, we couldn’t ask for a better backdrop to this event. And it’s downhill when you set off. Mind you they will all be cycling back uphill in the early hours of the morning, But what a place to come back to. Next year this event will be even bigger!”
People heading home after the new Sunset Sessions at the Bar & Kitchen may have had to blink a few times as hundreds of bikes started arriving on Alexandra Palace Way, making the most of the new road surface. If that wasn’t enough of an eye opener for them, there was the giant Panda walking around accompanying TV Adventurer Ben Fogle who was riding for WWF.
And, as befits a palace, there was a Princess taking part. Rider number 4041 was in fact HRH Princess Eugenie of York cycling to raise money for her new Patronage, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and for the MCC Foundation who are supporting the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation’s aim to raise £400,000 to build the first ever national cricket stadium in Rwanda. Princess Eugenie was greeted by her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York (who had sponsored her) on her return to Ally Pally in the early hours.
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