Adventurer Alastair Humphreys challenges 20,000 children to race around the world

Monday 2nd March 2009 marked the launch of a month long national virtual bike race around the world. Cycling adventurer Alastair Humphreys will be inspiring pupils, parents and teachers from over 140 schools across England as they set out on a 46,000 mile race. Pupils will be virtually following in the footsteps of Alastair who spent four years cycling through 60 different countries as he travelled around the world. This huge feat was described by Sir Ranulph Fiennes as “the first great adventure of the new millennium”.

The race has been organised by the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans. The race aims to inspire and get pupils, parents and teachers cycling on a regular basis. Over the next four weeks 19 Sustrans Bike It Officers will be aiming to get over 20,000 children cycling to and from school.

Bike It Officer, Kathy Bashford said: “This unique race will act as a great way for the whole school community to join together as they take on other schools from across the country. The most important part of the month long race will be to show pupils, parents and teachers how easy choosing two wheels instead of four for the journey to school can be.

“It is vital that we give young people in communities across the country the opportunity to travel in ways, which are healthy, sustainable and fun. Cycling to school has so many benefits for pupils such as improved health, confidence and concentration as well as the obvious benefits for the environment in which they will grow up in.”

Alastair Humphreys said: “It is fantastic to be able to team up with Sustrans and use my own adventure to encourage children from across the country to choose cycling as a real alternative for the school run. Cycling to school is great way for young people to get fit and healthy. I would encourage as many pupils as possible to join their Bike It Officers in this great challenge. Good luck to all those taking part and I look forward to tracking your progress around the world."

The Bike It project works with over 400 schools and over 60,000 children and young people. It works directly with pupils, parents and staff to help them overcome whatever it is that is preventing them from cycling to school – by organising cycle training, helping to install new bike sheds, contributing to classroom work and providing information about safe routes to schools. Participating schools across England have seen levels of cycling treble within a year– bucking the trend in declining numbers of children cycling to school.

Bike It is a nationwide scheme, managed by sustainable transport charity Sustrans. Nationally the project is funded by Cycling England, and the cycle industry through the Bike Hub, locally Bike It is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and local county councils.

Staff, parents and teachers who are interested in promoting cycling and walking in their school are encouraged to call the Sustrans School Travel Team on 0117 915 0100 for free information and advice.

Source: Sustrans