We recently checked in with former pro cyclist Jens Voigt to ask him a few questions about the “Ride on for World Bicycle Relief” Zwiftathon event on Dec. 2. Jens and cyclists from 100+ countries are expected to participate in this global virtual ride – aiming to raise $250,000 for World Bicycle Relief. You can sign up or donate to join Jens at www.rideonwbr.com.
Why is World Bicycle Relief’s mission important to you?
Voigt: The mission of World Bicycle Relief is important to me simply because I have seen places where these bikes go and what a difference they make in people’s lives. People who live in remote areas with no public transport or buses available must either walk all the way or it will not happen. And the Buffalo Bicycles from World Bicycle Relief make a huge change for the better for everybody who receives one bike. Suddenly the way to school is not a 45-minute walk anymore but a 10-minute bike ride. Which means 30 minutes or more time at home with the family, more time to help the family, more time to play, arriving less tired at school and therefore better results in school. And that will hopefully lead to a better job and to a more stable life for the family. And as a father myself, I am 100% behind the idea of helping children in less fortunate situations.
What would you say to someone to encourage them to join the “Ride on for World Bicycle Relief” Zwiftathon event on Dec. 2?
Voigt: Every donation and every bike donated means we save lives. It might sound dramatic, but that’s exactly what we do. We are not only making lives better but we save lives. Want an example? Imagine a midwife in a remote area, when she is forced to walk and carry all medicine on her back. Maybe she manages to see 4 or 5 pregnant woman, and she can only carry a limited amount of medicine with her. When she has one of our bikes, she can ride further and faster and she can maybe help 10 or 20 pregnant women and she can carry more medicine on the bike with her. And this might result in literally saving some mothers’ and babies’ lives.
What makes this ride different from some of the other fundraisers out there?
Voigt: This ride is simply bigger than most other events, and it goes on for a much longer time. One can see that there is a proper organisation behind and they try to make it effective and fun. And we have a worldwide following and worldwide support. Because World Bicycle Relief works on most continents, this organisation is a real global one. And I really hope we get riders from all continents and time zones to show up at our ride. I am sure they will.
How would you describe the power of the cycling community when coming together around one cause like this?
Voigt: I really must admit that the cycling community never ceases to amaze me with their kindness and willingness to help. It may be a simple puncture on the roadside and any random cyclist stops and asks if all is OK or if help is needed, or the cycling community comes together for bigger purpose like this one with World Bicycle Relief where we support communities or people in countries far away on different continents. Members of the cycling community are simply nice and friendly people. From what I have learned, every single one has an interesting story to tell and to share. I do love meeting people all over the world and engage in conversations with them.
How can people best support your personal fundraising effort for “Ride on for World Bicycle Relief”?
Voigt: Me, personally, I will ride two hours on Zwift on Saturday. I will lead two groups for one hour each. Hopefully my kids will watch me and maybe hand me a towel or water during the ride. I told them what I do and what for and they loved the idea. My little ones are still so innocent that they could not believe that some kids don’t have a bike, so I explained a little about World Bicycle Relief to them. If you folks wanna support me, please check my page from World Bicycle Relief and donate some money to me, which then of course goes straight to World Bicycle Relief. It doesn’t have to be $100 dollars. Every $5 helps and counts. So please join us in our effort to make other people’s lives better.
Where will you be riding on Dec. 2?
Voigt: On Dec. 2, I am gonna ride in my house in Berlin/Germany. Depending on weather and temperature, maybe outside so I would not sweat like crazy or if it rains inside my house. With hopefully the support of my entire family around me. My ride will be from noon until 2 p.m. Please join me and ride with me. It’s for a good cause and we burn some extra calories. That’s a win-win situation, right?!
There’s still time to join Jens Voigt and the thousands of other riders who are making a difference! Join the Ride On for World Bicycle Relief on Dec. 2 or donate now!