"Everyone I’ve spoken to has said: ‘brace yourself for the enormity of the emotion’.” That’s Derek Rees, programme director of Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS), on participating in next month’s Ziggurat cycle ride – a tour of First and Second World War battlefields.
Velocity is delighted to be supporting Ziggurat as a media partner. The ride takes place on 18-22 September: four days of cycling, covering 326 miles, from south London to Dover and then France and Belgium. Fully supported, and accompanied by a battlefield guide, 50 construction and property riders will take in towns such as Dunkirk, Arras and Saint Quinten, visiting sites such as the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, before finishing at the Glade of the Armistice on the outskirts of Compiègne. After a gala dinner, the return on day five is via Eurostar from Lilles.
“It’s brilliantly organised,” said Rees. “Last year the accommodation was great, it was all entirely seamless and you can just concentrate on enjoying the ride.”
It’s the third year of the event, each one taking a different route. Participants raise a minimum of £1,800 each. This year’s ride has contributed £100,000 to Action Medical Research (AMR), which organises the event through Discover Adventure. AMR senior partnerships development manager Sarah Stevenson is confident that Ziggurat will grow: “We would like to attract more riders into 2020 – aiming for 70, with more partner organisations,” she told Velocity.
Contractor Willmott Dixon has sponsored Ziggurat since 2018. “It’s becoming the best ride outside of Cycle to MIPIM for property and construction, in terms of quality networking and pushing yourself,” said the company’s chief communications officer, Andrew Geldard. “It’s quite a demanding ride and it’s raising money for brilliant work to improve the health of young people.”
CLOCS’ Rees (pictured above, celebrating last year's ride) is also taking part for the second year running. “Last year I wanted a personal challenge to mark my 50th birthday and Sarah Stevenson caught me on the phone at a weak moment," he said.
“She described Ziggurat and I said it seemed a completely ridiculous thing to do. I had a bike but the furthest I’d cycled was eight miles. To go from that to 360 miles, to Brussels, with six months’ notice was really ‘zero to hero’. But I did it and I raised £3,000 and definitely got the bug.”
What are the business benefits of Ziggurat? “I want to have conversations about the barriers to adoption of CLOCS,” Rees said. “Events like this let you build personal relationships with people that break through business barriers.” And that goes beyond the event itself: “I’m loving the training. It’s great socially, getting to know people who happen to live locally.”
Rees has joined a group of five riders, half of them in the property business, riding each week from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. “I’ve been out most Saturdays for 30-40 mile rides,” he said. “We’ve formed a team and called it Elite Cyclists, to laugh at ourselves. If you’re thinking about not going out one morning, it gives you a nudge to get out.”