WITH just a month left until the Tour de France, 25 cyclists from across the country stopped off in Ashbourne as part of a week-long biking journey.
The event has been named the Ride4Peace by its organisers – the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC).
The team took on the challenge of riding from Glasgow to London, with the ambition of raising £100,000 for British-based charities, the British Heart Foundation and Humanity First.
The winding Ride4Peace route has seen the cyclists tour the British countryside, stopping at 13 mosques in Glasgow, Newcastle, Hartlepool, Bradford, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Oxford, Feltham, Southfields and Morden.
Lead cyclist, Dr. Hammad Khan, from West Yorkshire and now living in London said: “What a beautiful part of the country we have just biked through.
“When we set off from Manchester this morning it was wet and grey, but the sun came out when we got to the Peak District and we have been lucky with the weather ever since.
“It’s been a beautiful ride, and we are really pleased to see so many people out to support us.”
The Ride4Peace is just one of several events which the AMC has organised over the past month to commemorate 100 years since its establishment in the UK. The £100,000 being collected will take the total amount raised to close to half a million pounds.
The organisers and participants are not only keen to raise money for charity, but also to highlight the positive contribution that British Muslims are making to the country. A point not lost Dr Khan, who said: ‘‘We are too often confronted by the negative impact of extremists and their twisted readings of Islam.
‘‘As practising Muslims we don’t agree with extremism, but believe in quite the opposite; in tolerance and freedom of religion.
“While we certainly don’t believe that the Ahmadi community is part of the problem, we are committed to making sure that our charity work and human rights campaigning is part of the solution.’‘
In addition to stopping at thirteen mosques and a number of BHF shops, the Ride4Peace cyclists will also stop to pay their respect at Bailiff Bridge Memorial Park, a First World War memorial originally built in 1921 and recently restored in 2007.
Explaining why the cyclists chose to stop at the memorial, Waseem Butt from Leeds said: ‘‘The sacrifice of the fallen in both World Wars is very significance to us all.
“Like me, many of the cyclists are of South Asian descent and our grandparents and great grandparents played big role during both world wars.
“It was the collective sacrifice of all those who served that helped to provide us with many of the opportunities and freedoms we enjoy today. Their memory is something to be cherished and celebrated.
‘‘We have also been supporting the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal over the past three years and have raised more than £50,000.”
To support the team’s fundraising efforts go to www.ride4peace.org