At the end of 2017, 12-year-old Ryo Baxter of England decided to support World Bicycle Relief after seeing the impact Buffalo Bicycles made on the lives of children. Ryo set himself (and his dad, Grant) the challenge to ride 100 miles in one day before he turned 13 in April – and raise funds for five Buffalo Bicycles.
“I love my bike, but I only use mine for fun. For these kids, they need the bikes to transform their lives,” Ryo said.
Ryo started building up his mileage in January. The first training ride was tough – it was freezing outside and Ryo said he felt like his toes were going to snap off!
To combat the cold, Ryo’s dad helped him set up his bike on his trainer and ride around Zwift. He alternated between this and taking on the cold, windy and wet winter weather to get the mileage in.
By mid-January, Ryo hit his goal of raising five Buffalo Bikes and received a World Bicycle Relief jersey, which he wore with pride.
Finding time to train was proving hard.
“He does so many sports that cycling only gets a small fraction of his time, so getting strong enough to ride 100 miles was going to require a lot of mental strength to find that extra hour in the day to sit on the bike doing a turbo session when what you really want to be doing is playing on the PlayStation,” said Grant. “But he did it.”
A week of training included: “swimming at school, Friday-night swimming, and swimming at tri club; bike ride with Dad on Saturday (15 miles in the freezing cold), and cycling at tri club; cross country on Friday, and running at tri club; two hockey training sessions, and one hockey match.”
As the wet weather persisted, Ryo and his dad chose a date and planned a route. The route was to be the quiet roads of Kent, including a few horrible hills. Ryo was aware that to succeed, he had to set off at the crack of dawn and give himself rests through the day whenever needed.
“My dad has also promised me a big pub lunch at the half-way point of the ride. I have never cycled anywhere near this distance before, so it will be a great achievement if I succeed!” Ryo said before his ride.
On the big day, the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. Ryo wore three layers, ate his toast and honey, attached water bottles to this bike and set off! The first 30 minutes were on familiar roads. Once they headed into the Weald Valley, the temperature dropped 20 miles before their break at 37 miles, and it got colder and colder, with a thick mist. Both Ryo and Grant were soaked.
“With hindsight, this was the only part of the day when I genuinely feel like we could have quit,” said Ryo.
After 37 miles, Ryo and his dad met his mum and sister at a family friends’ home. They ate sausage sandwiches and thawed out, then got back on the road. The weather had transformed and spirits were high! This was the farthest Ryo had ever cycled, and the next stop was at 62 miles.
When they stopped for lunch, the sun was at its warmest and they sat out in a pub garden with a pint of Coke, a shared Mars bar and their meal. Ryo asked his dad how long they could stay, and his dad told him he could relax for as long as he liked – maybe an hour and a half? Ryo’s look of relief said it all! They relaxed and refueled, and some family friends turned up to show support and took Ryo by surprise. Ryo was touched that people would travel just to cheer him on.
After lunch, with 35 miles to go, they turned on Ryo’s phone and listened to music together. These last 38 miles were fantastic. The roads were pancake flat, and, for very large portions, almost completely deserted.
“We basically had a great time singing and dancing (yes, you can dance on a bike) to music while watching the miles tick down.”
The last 10 miles felt slow as it had been more than 8 hours in the saddle. But they finished at 9:40 p.m. When they realised they’d finished, there was lot of cheering and grins. Mum and Ryo’s sister were still just under a mile away, but if they had to walk it now, it wouldn’t matter. The challenge had been completed.
“We did keep riding … just slowly. The ride ended with a hill up to the pub, with my sister and mum positioned to cheer lead us up and to the Woolpack Inn.”
“I am very thankful for everyone’s donations,” said Ryo. “Without the donations, and all of the kind messages you sent, I probably would not have been able to complete my ride.”
Grant is very proud of his son’s accomplishments. “His attitude was excellent, and the focus he applied is one I haven’t really had an opportunity to observe in him before. I got to spend an entire day with my son, unencumbered by other distractions, and I loved every single second of that time, even when the cold water was dripping off my nose. So Ryo, well done from Mum, and Dad, and your sister. We are very proud of you. Now relax, and don’t even think about sitting on the bike for a couple of weeks!”
We are so impressed by Ryo and his dad’s effort to complete the 100-mile cycling challenge and enjoyed following their journey. And we’re thrilled to see Ryo absolutely smash his target of five Buffalo Bicycles, with a whopping £1845 raised for a total of 19 Buffalo Bicycles!
Huge congratulations to Ryo, and on behalf of World Bicycle Relief and the communities we serve, THANK YOU!