Bike for Europe North Tour under way!
Today marked the annual Battle of Norg race for 1600 local mountain bikers in the Drenthe region of the Netherlands, and for the Bike for Europe North Team it marked the start of their 1750km ride to Vienna. The team, captained by Feridun Ekmecki (Turkey) and featuring riders from two continents, Miroda Otto (South Africa), Laura Eylen (Lithuania), Adnan Cangir (Turkey) and Tomasz Szkwarek (Poland), were joined at the start line by Michael Brennan (UCI Cycling for All), Dominik Sandler (ISCA) and 12 cyclists from Team Drenthe on their first leg of the tour.
The Deputy of the Province of Drenthe, Henk Jumelet, fired the starting gun for the tour minutes before the Battle of Norg cyclists started their 80-100km race. Deputy Jumelet, together with alderman Alex Wekema of the municipality of Noordenveld, also handed over a surprise cheque of €1000 to Ekmekci and ISCA to support the Bike for Europe Donate Your Kilometres Challenge and buy even more bicycles for people in need – a massive boost to the tour’s social inclusion campaign.
Just before the start, all of the Bike for Europe cyclists were introduced by the announcer and invited to bike to the front of Battle of Norg participants and be interviewed for them and the local TV broadcaster RTV Drenthe.
“It’s important to connect the European people again and we think that the bike is a good way to do that, as it is a cheap and sustainable means of transport,” Dominik Sandler, ISCA Youth Officer, said.
The Bike for Europe tour’s ambition is to inspire people more to cycle, be active in their everyday lives and support social inclusion, as an official European Week of Sport event and part of ISCA’s ongoing NowWeMOVE campaign.
The tour’s messages about active transport and making cycling accessible to everyone is a perfect fit to the Province of Drenthe’s community goals, Province Deputy Henk Jumelet said.
“Goals that are fully in line with the basic principles of the Drenthe bicycle province. That is why we are happy to be the starting location for this special project and we wholeheartedly support the good cause that ISCA has linked to this cycle: bicycles for refugees.”
UCI Cycling for All Campaigns Consultant Michael Brennan said he was excited to join the 120km ride to Apeldoorn on the first day from one of the UCI’s most active regions.
“It’s a pleasure to be here in Drenthe today to start the Bike for Europe tour, as Drenthe is one of our UCI bike regions and one of the world’s leading cycling regions, which is investing in both elite and everyday cycling.”
North Team member Miroda Otto was also interviewed by RTV Drenthe before the tour start of the Battle for Norg and said she is happy to be promoting social inclusion, and particularly the inclusion of women in typically male dominated cycling disciplines, such as mountain and long-distance biking.
“So few women are involved in mountain biking so I’m always trying to promote mountain biking among women,” she said.
She is also looking forward to exploring more of Europe by bike during the tour.
“There are so many beautiful places to see along the way and the bike is the best way to see them.”
The North Team will travel through the Netherlands to Belgium this week and followers can track their progress right here on the NowWeBike website and @ISCA_tweet.
The South Team starts their tour from scorching Thessaloniki this evening and will continue with a gruelling 150km ride tomorrow.
By Rachel Payne, ISCA