Cycling for a good cause with the #rideFAR-challenge

Special times call for special actions: Starting March 5th, our VOTEC Teamrider and Orbit360 founder Raphael Albrecht launches the #rideFAR-challenge, for which the entry fee is a donation for a good cause. In a world where we are facing a global pandemic and now also a war in Europe, we want to show that cycling is social: Let’s ride for a reason!

We spoke to our VOTEC team rider Rapha about the solidarity within the cycling community, the #rideFAR-challenge and his goal to make ultracycling more accessible.

There are many good reasons for cycling; for rideFAR you have chosen five very good reasons. Why these five? It was important to me that the participants know exactly what their donations will be for. There are many great nonprofit organizations out there, but often, however, you don’t really know what exactly is done with your donation. So I started looking for nonprofit projects that revolve around the topic of bicycles in some way. This year equal parts of the donations will go to Faradgang e.V., Bikeygees e.V., Velarica, World Bicycle Relief and – due to the current situation in Ukraine – to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.

What are your personal ”reasons“ that motivated you to fulfill a social purpose with Orbit360 rather than just creating a fun gravel series? After the first Gravel Series in 2020 I calculated the total distance and total elevation of all riders. Those were impressive numbers. And as a privileged “bicycle person” I had already travelled the world and had realized again and again that the bicycle as a sports equipment, how we see it in our circles, is just not a matter of course in many regions of the world.

So the idea to create some positive impact with cycling has been on my mind for quite some time already. The Orbit360-series finally gave me the channel and community to start such a project. Last year we raised 20,000€ and another tens of thousands of euros were added through side projects from the #rideFAR challenge. I’m excited to see what we can achieve this year.

Cycling is often more an individual sport than a team sport. For this year’s rideFAR challenge the “pair”-category was replaced by the “peloton”-category. What’s the thought behind this step?

I think the ultra scene already has enough “hardest races in the world”. Thanks to the gravel and bikepacking boom in the past 3 years many new races arose. But the barrier to entry these races is very high. Aside from the expensive bikes and the usually even more expensive accessories, the registration fees and transportation costs are often in the triple digits. Not even talking about the time you would have to spend for a race in Kyrgyzstan for example.

With Orbit360, I want to make the entry into this world a little more inclusive. Meaning lower costs, more flexibility, and also a bigger fun factor. By changing the “pair” to “peloton” mode, riders are now allowed to ride with different friends. The advantages and disadvantages between teams of two or more are balanced in my opinion.

The option to do a 90km-loop is also a new feature – and it’s only a quarter of the original Orbit360 loop. What’s the background to this change? #rideFAR is primarily about the good cause. Orbit360 on the other hand is still supposed to remain a challenge. That’s also why I named the new distance “90km sprint”. For the experienced ultra cyclists this distance can be seen as sprint whereas 90km is still a big challenge for normal everyday cyclists. Mainly we enlarged the circle a bit and I’m very curious to see how the new distance is received in the community.

How would you describe the participants who are involved in rideFAR?

Actually, we have a very heterogenous field of participants in both the #rideFAR challenge and the Gravel Series. We especially noticed that during last year’s Gravity Bike Festival. For Orbit360, cycling means freedom and less style.

I think that’s also how the participants see it and what everyone feels comfortable with.

In short: The participants of the #rideFAR challenge are primarily interested in standing up for a good cause in a collective and combining this with a personal challenge at the same time.

Raphael

Do you think the active (physical) participation in a fundraising event leads to a “we can make a difference” feeling among the participants more than just donating?

Absolutely. I placed the #rideFAR challenge at the start of the cycling season as when the snow is melting and the bikes get dusted off, there’s a general “atmosphere of departure”. Combining an event with a call for a donation for a good cause triggers a spirit of optimism in many riders. Following the motto “Come on, let’s try this!”. In addition, our partners VOTEC, komoot, CRAFT and ENJOYYOURBIKE also donate 10% of the total amount. This creates additional motivation for people to participate.

What’s your take on cycling as a “rebellious act” My first touchpoints with cycling arose more from the sporting aspect. For me, the bike was more of a sports equipment. Over the course of time I also became aware of the various meanings of the bicycle. For example, the bicycle is also a means of mobility and even a basic means of subsidence. I hardly view cycling as a “rebellious act” as the feeling of freedom and adventure prevail. Although I am well aware of the importance of rebellion through the bicycle.

Now that we’re talking about meaning and “reasons” all the time: What is cycling for you in general? For me personally: hobby, sport, freedom & adventure, and since two years also somehow my profession. I only associate positive emotions with the bike as such. With the awareness that in Europe the bicycle is a luxury product whereas in many other countries of the world it makes an important contribution to securing one’s livelihood. The road is still long and I’m curious where it will take me.


Logo RideFAR

Between March 5th and April 3rd, Orbit360 launches the #rideFAR challenge, for which the entry fee is a donation to one of five nonprofit organizations. Participants from all over the world scout their own route of 90, 180 or 360km and take part either alone or with friends, do good and compete with others in the ranking.


Portrait Raphael Albrecht

Raphael Albrecht is the founder of the Orbit360-series, an unsupported gravel series with routes all over Germany. Raphael is a fan of real adventures, holds a barista licence, prefers riding his bike to techno and metal music and seeks to make ultracycling more accessible and inclusive.