Last October 10 riders from the Royal British Legion (RBL) in Bangkok cycled from Bangkok to Phuket for charity in the SpiceRoads sponsored RBL Big Push. Now they are planning to do their next Charity Challenge in April. We caught up with some of the team in their local pub to find out their motivations and their thoughts on Thailand as a charity challenge destination.
How did the ride from Bangkok to Phuket come about? http://www.spiceroads-rbl-bigpush.com
The group first started talking about it in January 2011, at which point most of the riders (except for Tony) had hardly ever ridden a bike for a notable distance, let alone 100km per day. Normally in the UK the Royal British Legion organise a ride from London to Paris, so the Bangkok group decided to organise their own version – and a slightly longer one at that.
For most of the team this was the first such event so it certainly was a challenge. With about 9 months to prepare, the group undertook a rigorous training programme with gym sessions during the week and monthly rides of 70-80km, which soon turned into weekly rides. They soon discovered during their training rides that they got to see places they had never seen before (even after years of living in Thailand).
During this time they were also busy with the logistics and raising Sponsorship. We are pleased to say the SpiceRoads sponsored them by providing bikes throughout their training and the ride itself.
How did the actual ride go?
After 8 days of cycling (slightly shorter than the normal SpiceRoads Bangkok to Phuket bike tour) they all completed the ride and their first challenge. For some it had proved a real challenge but as Tony pointed out it was working as a team and keeping each other going which was important and proved a key to success.
We were pleased to hear that they also found a love for cycling. While most of the group were not cyclists beforehand they have all become keener since the ride and now will often go out for rides.
The ride was a great success and not only did they challenge themselves, they raised about 500,000 THB (17,000USD).
The organisers also learned that organising such a challenge for the first time is not an easy task. The challenges of setting up the ride and the logistical issues proved a great learning experience, as did the fund-raising side itself. As Peter noted, “It’s all about publicity” and the team certainly did a good job to get the event out there.
However, the experience prepared them well for their next challenge. With an understanding of what sort of support you can ask people for, and the creditability of having organised a trip before, they set about planning for “The Long March”.
The Next Challenge – The Long March (April 18-25, 2012) http://the-long-march.com
Not soon after they completed the Bangkok to Phuket ride they started thinking about the next challenge and the idea of “The Long March” came about. For almost as long as he has been living in Thailand (14 years), Duncan, an ex Grenadier Guards whose Great Uncle was a POW on the Death Railway, had wanted to travel the length of the “Death Railway”. So the next challenge was an easy decision and Duncan jumped at the chance to organise it.
On the April 18 a six man team of mainly ex servicemen, will embark on a charity bike, canoe and walk from Three Pagoda Pass and over seven and a half days travel the 300km to arrive at Kanachanaburi War Cemetery for the ANZAC day services on the morning of the April 25l.
In November the group formed a new association called EVA (Expat Veterans Association) of Thailand, and this time they are doing this challenge for three great charities: Royal British Legion, The Returned Services League, and the Thai Veterans Hospital. However, more importantly, the trip will remember the men of all nationalities who worked on the Thailand – Burma railway and to commemorate the 70th Anniversary because their strength and courage should never be forgotten.
This is one challenge that they are really looking forward to and the multiple disciplines adds to the the adventure. Day 1 is all cycling, Day 2 is half canoeing and half cycling, and days 3-7 are hiking approximately 35km per day. They are finding the logistics for this trip equally as challenging with trying to plot the closest route to the railway and also getting permissions to camp in the same places that were used as actual camp sites during the Death Railway construction. It really will be a historic journey
What’s after “The Long March”?
The group have already expressed an interest to do another bike ride at the end of the year, but with so many adventure options in Thailand it was interesting to know what other ideas they may come up with.
- Dragon Boating down the Choa Praya River
- 12 day canoe trip in Northeast Thailand
- Abseiling down Baiyoke Tower (The tallest building in Bangkok)
Thailand as a Charity Challenge destination.
Speaking to the team, there are certainly lots of options for charity challenges. As Peter pointed out, “Getting out there is the only real way to see Thailand. You can come on holiday and sit on a beach or you can get out and see the country”
So hopefully the RBL members have inspired you. Firstly, that Thailand provides so much opportunity for adventure. Secondly, if you want to challenge yourself, why not consider doing it for a good cause!
For more information on doing a charity bike ride in Thailand visit out website
The Royal British Legion
The RBL provides welfare to the whole Armed Forces family; those serving, ex-Service personnel and dependants of both groups. We also campaign on a range of issues affecting Service people, we are the Custodian of Remembrance, we organise the annual Poppy Appeal and are one of the UK’s largest Membership organisations. In Thailand specifically we help those in need, those in distress and even in hospitalisation and repatriation to the UK.
EVA (Expat Veterans Association) of Thailand
We are a new group that has been formed from other veteran organisations in Bangkok in 2011. Our role is to run fund raising events for charity through out the year and this new group means we can select the most deserving cause for each event, without being tied to one specific Charity. Most of the members are ex forces and unlike a lot of organisations we accept members from all nationalities, who are of course willing to put in some of their time to organise, run and and take part in these events.