Life on bikes

Inspired to organise a charity motorcycle ride

If you like the idea of setting up a charity bike ride, take some encouragement from someone who has been there and done it.

Bikers are well known for getting behind charitable causes, but the idea of getting them to support your idea for a fund-raising charity ride can still be a little daunting. Ride of the Ruperts (RotR) founder Steve Morrell has done, so we asked him why, how and would he do it again?.

What inspired you to set up your charity ride?

I have always been very ‘charity-minded’ and sociable, having been involved in a number of other charity events over the years such as the NY Marathon and a lengthy cycle ride abroad for a children’s charities.

I first took part in the London Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) back in 2013 on my 1953 Matchless G9, wife on back and friends in tow and loved the whole ambience of the day with everyone looking great in their outfits and having fun. But the London ride isn’t too great on an old classic travelling up from the coast, so after two years I swapped for the West Sussex DGR instead, finding it much more manageable and just as enjoyable.

Ready for the ride briefing so that all riders are aware of group riding etiquette, timings and route

A small group of us always take part in the DGR and one of the guys happened to mention how good it would be to do another ride in the same attire, but without having to wait until September came round again. I agreed to organise a small local ride for the group, but when other biking friends started hearing about it they wanted in. Playing around with Facebook I created an ‘Event’ and it basically spiralled out of control when I started inviting everyone!

I like to push myself out of my comfort zone and set myself challenges; at 47 years of age, this has been one of the greatest to date.

Was there a personal story behind your motivation?

I’ve lost a couple of older close friends to prostate cancer and working in the emergency services in London I’ve sadly lost two work colleagues to suicide. Both came as a complete shock as nobody saw it coming – and we work with mental health issues in others on a daily basis. To continue supporting the Movember Foundation seemed the obvious choice.

What has been the biggest challenge you faced setting up your activity?

I’ve been reluctant to let others get involved in the day to day running of the RotR as I’ve witnessed first hand the politics of committees, and this really isn’t me. I don’t intend letting the RotR become bogged down in too many rules and regulations, knowing I can safely run an event for bikers without unnecessary interference from those with, sometimes unknown, personal agendas.

organise a charity ride
Steve addresses riders, letting them know the rules of the ride

The downside of this means I am the sole organiser. Whilst I am really very grateful to my friends for helping out on the day of the ride it’s a real challenge trying to hold down a busy full-time job whilst trying to promote the ride, obtain sponsors and complete all the necessary humdrum admin, whilst trying to keep that important ‘personal touch’ often lost in larger events. I’m very lucky to have an understanding wife!

How easy has it been to get support for your ride?

It’s not been easy as I’ve had to get my head around social media, which is annoyingly time-consuming, but it has been absolutely key to getting riders I don’t know personally involved. After people saw just how well the inaugural ride went in 2018 they signed up for the following year at the earliest opportunity and I was ‘sold out’ a whole five months ahead of the May ride.

Getting sponsors through businesses can be hard work as there has to be something in it for all parties. There’s a lot of financial competition in the biking world and often the margins aren’t great for businesses these days. Businesses rarely give you money for nothing, you’ve got to be doing something for them in return. However, a couple of well-known names have jumped on board this year by donating auction prizes and other companies have seen the benefits of association. There are some lovely well-meaning people behind the brands and I’m very grateful to these individuals.

Keeping the event ‘professional’ is absolutely key. No company wants to be associated with something less than honourable.

organise a charity ride
The event has its own logo

How much money have you raised so far?

The first annual RotR was in May 2018. I raised £5,588 from the one main event. I also held some non-ride events in winter with a RotR theme.

So that went well, do you have plans to do any more rides?

Yes. Due to the popularity of the RotR 2018, I have increased the number of bikes that can take part in the RotR 2019 from 200 to 250 (I am restricted by start and end venues parking capacity). It takes place on Sunday 12th May.

To raise more money I am also running an Online Movember Auction through the RotR Facebook page, open to everyone, with some really GREAT biking prizes from 6pm on Sunday 12th May through to midnight on Friday 31st May.

Then on Sunday 26th May I am leading a RotR ride from The Custom Cafe, Bexhill to the Bike Shed London Show – full details are on our Facebook page – no tweed required! Already, over 200 riders are already interested or going.

Finally, on Wednesday 5th June I am leading a RotR ride from The Custom Cafe, Bexhill to Beachy Head, Eastbourne to witness the spectacle of a 30 Dakota fly-past as they make their way to Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. More than 35o riders are interested or going!

The main Ride of the Ruperts 2019 ride is now closed to entries but Steve and the riders would welcome your support by waving them off from the start point, especially if you want to stick a few pounds in the fundraising bucket. Full details can be found on our May Motorcycle Events page. 

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