Everything you need to know about the Big Ride for Africa 2019.
All accommodation for the 2019 event will be at the event base camp at Schloss Merode, Kreuzherrenstr.1, 52379 Langerwehe-Merode, Germany.
The base camp will be open from 16:00 on Tuesday 11 June until 10:00 on Friday 14 June 2019.
All accommodation, food and drink is included once you have been confirmed for the event.
Accommodation will be housed in a premium bespoke build campsite with all facilities located on site. You will be allocated a two man tent that will be for your sole use during the event.
There is the opportunity to upgrade to the glamping area on either a single or twin basis. The glamping will consist of a bell tent with two double beds inside, room to stand up and additional space to store luggage.
Should you decide not to join us at base camp alternative accommodation and all logistics of getting to and from base camp will be your responsibility and all costs will be your own.
Are there toilet facilities on route?
There will be toilets at each designated pit stop as well as full facilities in all areas of the base camp.
Bikes boxes are not required, should you bring a bike box a few can be stored but it is not guaranteed. We strongly suggest bike boxes are not brought to the event.
Please ensure you do the following:
- Go to a decent bike shop and get it set up so that it is optimised for your own body shape and size. Minor changes can make a big difference.
- Get the bike serviced before you go.
- Make sure your tyres and inner tubes are good quality and in good condition.
- Thicker tyres help prevent punctures. You can also buy slime that you put into your tyres and it repairs small punctures automatically.
- Learn to change an inner tube and carry everything with you to enable you to do so. This is important.
The bikes will be checked in and checked out to the owner of the bike unless you give consent for another person to pick your bike up, please ensure that you have written documentation to this effect on drop off or pick up.
Bike support along the ride
There will be mechanical support available out on the road and at the pit stops.
The mechanical teams will have a wide range of supplies to ensure everyone has the best chance of finishing the route. If you have a problem with your bike they will aim to fix it for free, but any components needed to fix the bike will be at a charge. Please bring cash and a bank card with you to cover this should you need parts replaced on your bike during the event.
We ask all riders to bring the following and also to be able to fix a puncture:
- x2 new inner tubes (check they fit your bike)
- A puncture repair kit including tyre levers
If you have a problem out on the road then you can call the emergency number on the back of your bike number and the mechanical support team will come and find you as soon as possible.
Please note you must be able to fix your own punctures and will be expected to do so during the event.
There is a complimentary bike transport service, this will be run by a specialist cycle transfer company and will run from the following locations. This is an opt-in service that riders must book.
Further details and drop off dates of this service will be communicated pre-event.
Drop off points -
The Netherlands - Liberty Global Office, Boeing Avenue, Amsterdam - 7.6.2019 - 12:00-14:00
UK - Hammersmith Griffin House, Car park 161 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8BS - 7.6.2019 - 7:00-14:00
UK - Shoreditch, Powerleague pitches, Braithwaite St, London, E1 6GJ - 7.6.2019 - 7:00-9:00
Cologne - Unitymedia Offices Aachener Str. 746-750, Cologne - 11.6.2019 - 12:30-13:30
UK - Manchester Concorde House, Concorde Business Park, Threapwood Road, Wythenshawe - 6.6.2019 - 8:00-9:00
Dublin - Virgin Media, Building P2, Eastpoint Business Park, Clontarf, Dublin 3 - 5.6.2019 - 8:00-9:00
Return points -
The Netherlands - Liberty Global Office, Boeing Avenue, Amsterdam - 14.6.2019 - 14:00-16:00
UK - Hammersmith Griffin House, Car park 161 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8BS - 17.6.2019 - 06:00-15:00
UK - Shoreditch, Powerleague pitches, Braithwaite St, London, E1 6GJ - 17.6.2019 - 07:00-09:00
Cologne - Unitymedia Offices Aachener Str. 746-750, Cologne - 14.6.2019 - 07:00-09:00
UK - Manchester Concorde House, Concorde Business Park, Threapwood Road, Wythenshawe - 18.6.2019 - 08:00-09:00
Dublin - Virgin Media, Building P2, Eastpoint Business Park, Clontarf, Dublin 3 - 17.6.2019 - 8:00-9:00
Bikes are placed fully assembled in heavy duty polybags before being loaded and further protected with blankets to prevent damage. Locks and bike boxes/ bike bags are not required. As there will be limited space in the transport vehicles, please refrain from bringing them to the bike drop location. Please note you will not need to remove your pedals this year.
Bikes are insured up to £10,000. This cover is for event organised transportation only.
Should you wish to arrange your own bike transport please ensure you rack it within the dedicated area as soon as you arrive on site in order for it to be stored securely during the event.
Unlike most other charity challenge events, we do not ask riders in the Big Ride for Africa to pay a deposit when joining the event. Because of this, if you cancel your participation you will incur a fee to cover the cost of your place. This is because Lessons for Life Foundation has a cost it pays for each rider’s entry (for your support, accommodation and food, etc.) and only a percentage of that expenditure is refunded back to the charity when a rider has to pull out of the event. That percentage decreases the nearer to the event that you cancel.
Contact details to withdraw from Big Ride for Africa:
Charges if you pull out
If you pull out of the event after midnight on Friday 31st May, you will be charged a cancellation charge of £850. We cannot refund your sponsors if you pull out or are forced to cancel. We cannot refund your sponsors if the event is cancelled or shortened for unforeseen circumstances.
Contact details to withdraw from Big Ride for Africa Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We encourage people from all backgrounds and of all shapes, ages, sizes and fitness levels to sign up to The Big Ride for Africa. What we do ask is that you follow a training plan before you embark on the event so that you are able to actually enjoy the experience rather than huffing and puffing your way through it!
This year we have introduced different length routes on both days, so pick a route that will challenge not defeat you! Please be aware that there are several hill climbs on the 160km route so training is highly recommended.
Any participant unsure of their physical ability to take part in the ride must seek medical advice from their GP prior to booking and/or taking part in the challenge. It is not advisable for pregnant women to participate in the ride and doing so is at your own risk and you should follow your GP’s recommendation.
Check out our Training page for plans and tips.
By joining The Big Ride for Africa for two days, you commit to raising at least GBP 3,000 for 2-day challenges and GBP 2,000 for one-day challenges.
Check out the fundraising section that has everything you need to get you started. If you are struggling to reach the required sponsorship amount before the ride, we’d love to talk to you about how we can help – please get in touch with us at email@example.com
If your company has a partnership agreement with Lessons for Life then these prices may vary depending on your employer. Your company may also have special fundraising requirements for you that will be communicated to you directly. If you have any questions about these, please contact:
All participants must depart Schloss Merode by 10:00 on Friday 14th June.
Return shuttle services will be running from Schloss Merode to Cologne / Dusseldorf Airports. Please book here.
Inbound (Cologne Airport)
Inbound (Dusseldorf Airport)
Basecamp opens 16:00 11th June
By car Address: Schloss Merode, Kreuzherrenstr.1, 52379 Langerwehe-Merode, Germany
Schloss Merode is approximately a 45 minute drive from Cologne Airport and 65 minutes from Dusseldorf Airport on the outskirts of Düren town.
There is designated parking at Schloss Merode.
A frequent shuttle service will be provided. When registering for the event online, please indicate if you will be driving or if you will require the shuttle service.
Please book here.
Tuesday (Cologne Airport)
Wednesday (Cologne Airport)
Where to go
On arrival at Cologne/Bonn Airport, please make your way to Info Desk in the main arrival hall where a Big Ride For Africa representative will be there to meet and assist you with your journey to Schloss Merode.
Tuesday (Dusseldorf Airport)
Wednesday (Dusseldorf Airport)
Where to go
On arrival at Düsseldorf Airport, please make your way to the central arrivals meeting point behind Starbucks where a Big Ride For Africa representative will be there to meet and assist you with your journey to Schloss Merode.
Bikes booked on flights
We will be unable to transport bikes from the airport to basecamp unless we have been advised in advance.
Why not upgrade to Glamping and sleep in your own yurt?
Glamping is available for single or twin occupancy -
Single - £800pp
Please be aware the cost of Glamping is in addition to your fundraising target. If you pull out of the event, the event is cancelled or shortened for unforeseen circumstances Glamping costs cannot be refunded. Additionally if you choose a twin and your chosen tent share falls through LFL has the right to allocate a new occupant of the same sex.
How will I know where to go?
The entire route will be signed with large red and white arrows so you shouldn’t need to worry about getting lost. Every junction will be signed before the turn, at the turn and will have a confirmation arrow after the turn.
If you go more than a few kms without seeing one and you are worried that you are off course then you should ring event control; this number will be stated on the back of your bike number.
Please note; the route is subject to change up until the day due to road works and diversions and so please follow the clear signs provided rather than your GPS.
While on the route
- Follow ALL event arrows
- Follow the highway code when crossing roads
- Please stop at Pit Stops and don’t get waylaid in local cafes or pubs
- Inform EVENT CONTROL if you leave the event for any reason
Chaperones and broom wagon
Whilst riding you will see cyclists with an armband and jerseys marked Chaperone. These are experienced cyclists who’ll provide key support and motivation and ensure everyone stays safe.
There will be a broom wagon vehicle that will follow the route at the back of the rider field, travelling at an average speed of 9mph to pick up any riders that are injured or medically unable to continue.
The broom wagon will leave the start after the last cyclist. It will pick people up if they fall behind the required pace to complete the challenge by the route closing time at dusk.
If you get lost
If you believe you are lost please follow this procedure:
- Stop and try to work out where you are by reference points
- Try to make your way back to your last known point
- If you are still lost call EVENT CONTROL on the emergency contact numbers
It is compulsory for all cyclists to be covered by their own travel insurance. It is important that you check the cover of your travel insurance as some standard policies don’t cover cycling holidays and you may need to get specific cycle travel insurance. We also recommend that you take out insurance for your belongings, including your bicycle and any equipment that you bring with you. Companies such as Cyclosure offer policies aimed at cyclists travelling abroad but there are plenty of other companies out there, so please shop around for the policy that suits you the best.
Is it a race?
The event is an adventure ride rather than a race. Each rider will be provided with a GPRS tracker device that will provide real time data and location mapping.
The chips have the following purpose:
- To help the event delivery team monitor the flow of riders through the event.
- To monitor and record your daily ride times – the event is a ride not a race but we know that participants like to know how long they’ve been in the saddle for along the route.
During the registration process, we require you to disclose any health issues you may have and/or medication you may be taking. This information will be kept confidential and only shared with the appropriate members of support staff. Please make sure you make any dietary requirements clear on the registration form and we will ensure we inform the caterers of your requests.
We require any participant who has an existing medical condition to seek medical advice from their GP prior to booking and/or taking part in the challenge. Similarly, any riders who are unsure of their physical ability to take part in the challenge must consult their GP before booking and taking part in the ride.
Should I bring my own bike?
Should I bring my own bike?
We advise that you bring your own bike so that it is optimised to you and your body shape although it is up to you if you would prefer to hire a bike. Please note that the hiring and returning of bikes must be arranged by you.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for bike hire information.
We will carry a few spare bikes for emergencies but will be loaned on a first come first served basis.
We have some amazing opportunities to get your company some serious exposure to all participants and supporters across the event. Please email email@example.com if you’d like more information about being a sponsor.
You may start at your leisure anytime within the relevant start window shown below. Please be at the start line, ready to go, at least 15 minute prior to your desired start time to collect your bike and listen to the route briefing. Please allow more time if you need to drop valuables, adjust your bike, fill up water bottles and so on.
Wednesday 12th June
08:30 – 09:00 Black route cyclists start window
09:00 – 09:30 Red route cyclists start window
10:00 – 10:30 Blue route cyclists start window
Thursday 13th June
08:30 – 09:00 Black route cyclists start window
09:00 – 09:30 Red route cyclists start window
10:00 – 10:30 Blue route cyclists start window
10:45 Runners & Walkers group warm up
11:00 Runners & Walkers start
If you are arriving on site on the morning of your event, please arrive at least one hour prior to your allocated start time in order to:
- Register (if not done previously)
- Collect your jersey(s)/t-shirt (if not done previously)
- Drop off any valuables for secure storage
- Make a final check of your kit
- Have breakfast
- Fill your water bottles
- Go to the toilet
- Make your way to the start area
- Join the start pens for the start line briefing
For safety reasons, participants are briefed and then released onto the route in groups of 30-40 so please be patient during this process. Additionally, there will be some speeches prior to groups setting off.
There will be plenty of support crew on hand in support vehicles, including a first aider, marshals, and bike mechanics. There will also be bike chaperones throughout the route to help encourage you throughout the day.
What are the roads like?
The road surfaces for the whole trip are suitable for all bike types including road bikes. We have planned the routes to be a balance between quiet roads, beautiful scenery and good road surfaces. However the nature of long distance cycling means that there are short periods when you may need to cycle on a busier road.
What happens if I can’t complete the ride?
If you have trained the Big Ride is achievable for people of all fitness and experience levels. We have different routes to challenge people of all abilities – please choose the right one for you. Should day 1 be tough then you are free to choose a different route for day 2.
This year you have the option to change a day in the saddle for a day pounding the dirt so keep your options open!
If you are struggling the support vehicles can help you out. We suggest you check out our training pages for lots of tips and advice on how to get Big Ride fit.
What happens if it's wet weather at base camp?
We are obviously hoping that the weather will be warm and sunny for the event however all contingencies will be in place to ensure you get warm and dry as soon as you finish your days challenge. Staff will be on hand to assist with bike racking, umbrellas, space blankets and hot food and drink. Also available onsite will be drying rooms for shoes and clothes.
All communal areas will be heated and weather proof. Tents are of the highest quality and therefore 100% waterproof.
Out on the road, routes will be constantly checked for safety and alternate routes will be used if necessary. Warning signs will be placed if required stating wet surfaces, reduces speed etc. It is always sensible to pack in anticipation for wet weather to ensure you have dry clothes for each day and in the evening.
What is new for 2019?
The Big Ride for Africa 2019 will be building on the hugely successful format in Ireland in 2018. There will be several options for people to enter so the amazing Big Ride family can continue to grow.
Lessons for Life has again partnered with Threshold Sports to create the ultimate challenge event for everyone based out of a unique base camp built in the beautiful grounds of Schloss Merode.
This year will again see all riders start together to complete their individual challenges and finish together to celebrate their achievements. There are one and two-day cycling options, the option to run or walk a half or full marathon on day two, or combine two sports to create a Duathlon.
This year the routes are categorised by colours, ranging from an easier blue route to a challenging black route. Distances range from 40km per day to 170km, varying in elevation.
Read more here.
Blue - Easy to Moderate - approx 40km -60km
Red- Moderate to Challenging - approx 80km-120km
Black - Challenging to Tough - approx 140km -170km
Yellow - Half Marathon distance walk/run
Orange - Full Marathon walk/run
2 day challenge: Cycling
Cycle Blue + Blue
Cycle Blue + Red
Cycle Blue + Black
Cycle Red + Red
Cycle Red + Blue
Cycle Red + Black
Cycle Black + Blue
Cycle Black + Red
Cycle Black + Black
2 day challenge: Duathlon
Duathlon Blue cycle + Yellow run / walk
Duathlon Blue cycle + Orange run / walk
Duathlon Red cycle + Yellow run / walk
Duathlon Red cycle + Orange run / walk
Duathlon Black cycle + Yellow run / walk
Duathlon Black cycle + Orange run / walk
1 day challenge
Cycle day 2 – Blue
Cycle day 2 – Red
Cycle day 2 – Black
Run / walk day 2 – Yellow
Run / walk day 2 – Orange
The routes may include some hill climbs and so it is recommended that adequate training is undertaken before the event.
What to pack
We recommend layering up so that you can add or remove items of clothing to keep you at a comfortable temperature. Always make sure you carry waterproof layers with you and buy clothes made from a fabric that is designed specifically for exercise that will absorb sweat and dry out quickly.
Travel / Evening Wear
It is very important that you keep baggage to a minimum as there is limited space within your personal tents. Pack warm and comfortable, casual evening-wear for when we kick back and relax in the evenings. Please note that although the event takes place in the summer, evenings can become cool.
- Passport (or National Identity Card if appropriate)
- EHIC Card (formerly E111) - these are free
- Flip flops / trainers
- Casual trousers
- T-Shirts / shirts
- Sweater / hoody
- Warm jacket
- Warm hat
- Money for bar / bike parts
- Plastic bag for wet / dirty kit
- Travel adapter and phone charger to charge your phone overnight
Recommended Personal First Aid Kit
- Your normal choice of painkillers
- Fabric plasters
- Blister fabric, e.g. RockTape/ Compeed
- Any personal medication (prescription or non-prescription)
Cycling specific list
We will provide you with a Big Ride for Africa breathable, high quality cycling shirt for each day of your ride. We will also provide a portable charger to keep your phone juiced up on the ride.
- Cycling shorts
- Cycling shoes with clip in pedals / firm-soled shoes or trainers
- Bike helmet: Compulsory. No helmet no ride!
- LED bike lights with spare batteries (for bad weather / dusk finishes) Compulsory
- Waterproof lightweight jacket
- Cycling gloves
- Cycling overshoes (a good idea if the weather looks bad, but not essential)
- Arm and leg warmers (if it looks like the weather will be bad)
- Sun cream
- 2 x water bottles
- 2 x bottle cages attached to your bike
- Mobile phone (fully charged with your emergency contact saved under Next of Kin)
- Medical / First aid kit (see above
- Warm and comfortable, casual evening-wear for when we kick back and relax in the
- evenings. Please note that although the event takes place in the summer, evenings can become cool.
Cycle Repair Kit
As the route is circular you shouldn’t need a day sack but please ensure you carry the following with you:
- Mini bike pump
- 2 new inner tubes (check they fit your bike)
- A puncture repair kit including tyre levers
- Multi tool (with correct allen keys for your bike)
- Chain repair links (contact your local bike shop if you’re unsure about chain repair).
- Bike/chain lubricant
Run / walk specific
We will provide you with a Big Ride for Africa breathable, high quality running shirt for your run. We will also provide a portable charger to keep your phone juiced up.
- Trainers / walking boots (comfortable and worn in)
- Pair of socks
- Waterproof jacket (recommend lightweight)
- Mobile phone (fully charged with your emergency contact saved under next of kin)
- Race belt
- Sun cream
What type of bike is most suitable?
The ideal bike needs to:
- Be lightweight and stiff enough for efficient power transfer.
- Have a comfortable saddle for a long day perched on it.
- Have a wide range of gearing to ensure that you can take on significant climbs.
- You can use a road bike or a hybrid bike on this route but we would not recommend a mountain bike unless you put on thinner road tyres.
- Up to 3 nights’ accommodation on the ride (11 - 13 June)
- All your meals (breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners) from dinner on 11 June up to and including breakfast the morning of 14 June
- A fabulous Big Ride Party on the 13 June
- Support vehicles and support staff, including a first aider, marshals, bike mechanics and chaperones, all on hand to give you all the practical help and moral support you need
- Transportation of your bike both ways - for those who opt-in to this service
- Shuttle bus service from Cologne and Dusseldorf Airports - for those who opt-in to this service (a small charge will apply)
- Route files – a online route map per day with the option to download to a navigation device
- A high quality, breathable jersey and/or tech t-shirt for each day you take part
- One portable phone charger
- All sleeping essentials – inflatable mattress, sleeping bag, pillow – please feel free to bring your own sleeping bag if you prefer
What’s not included?
- Flights and transfers (unless opting-in to one of the event shuttle services)
- A bike
- Personal travel / cycle touring insurance
- Cycling / running clothes/kit and shoes/clips