2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the invention of the bicycle. The first design, known as Draisine, was created by German Baron Karl von Drais. Widespread crop failure in 1816 had led to the starvation and deaths of many horses, prompting Drais to create an alternative mode of transport. He designed a two-wheel, steerable, human-propelled machine that he called a “velocipede.” It took 22 years before a Scottish blacksmith, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, thought to add pedals. Macmillan’s pedal-driven bicycle featured iron-rimmed wooden wheels, a steerable wheel in the front and a larger rear wheel, which was connected to pedals with rods.
To celebrate how far the bicycle has come since its invention in 1817, consider going on a bicycle trip or participating in a cycling race. Bicycle tours are becoming an increasingly popular way to experience new places while getting in some fitness and being kind to the environment.
Epicure & Culture has curated a list of charity cycle rides and other cycling events around the world that support forward-thinking companies. These charity cycle rides help ensure that future generations have access to health, education and, in some cases, more bicycles!
Domestic Charity Cycle Rides
1) Celebrate & Preserve The Agriculture Of The Central Plains
Pedal The Plains (PTP) is an annual event that celebrates the agricultural and frontier heritage of Colorado’s Eastern Plains. The three-day route covers approximately 150 miles and changes every year to highlight different communities. While riding you’ll learn about farming and ranching through on-route experiences like stops to meet farmers and ranchers, or to savor farm-to-fork meals. For entertainment, enjoy some good music from local country bands.
Pedal the Plains provides a grant to each host town along the route. Towns can also apply for additional community initiative funding. The sponsors, The Denver Post Community Foundation, also donate proceeds to local agricultural organizations, including the 4H and FFA.
Click here for more information and check back in April to register. If the 3-Day Tour ($280, average 150 miles over three days) seems intimidating, you can do a one-day Century Ride ($105, 100 miles) or the Family Fun Ride ($30, average 5–7 miles).
2) Biking & Bacon To Support Bike Safety
If biking paired with bacon sounds like paradise, you’re in luck. Iowa’s BACoon Ride offers cycling trips with a tasty twist. On June 17 you can participate in a 71-mile ride along the Raccoon River Valley Trail to be rewarded with numerous bacon stops, a bacon-themed lunch and drink specials at establishments along the way.
100% of the event’s proceeds benefit the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, a local organization helping educate the community about bike safety as well as expand bicycle transportation throughout the state.
The ride starts at $50.Experience #nature and local #culture with these amazing #charity cycle rides. Check them out! Click To Tweet
3) Foodie Chef Cycle To Combat Childhood Hunger
Santa Rosa, California
Chefs Cycle is a fundraising endurance event featuring award-winning chefs and members of the culinary community fighting hunger outside the kitchen. For the past three years, Chefs Cycle has engaged culinary talents who want to push their limits by completing a three day, 300 mile ride while raising funds and awareness in support of No Kid Hungry. The spring 2017 ride has a goal of 250+ chefs riding to help raise $2 million, which translates into 20 million meals for kids facing hunger. More rides and experiences will be added in the coming months.
Chef Cycle takes place May 16-18, 2017.Give back to the community with these amazing #cyclingtours in the #US and beyond. Click To Tweet
4) Cycle Through Kenai Peninsula & Donate Old Bikes
If you want to combine cycling with hiking and kayaking through one of America’s most rugged states, consider joining Austin Adventure’s Alaska Trip. You’ll bike through the wild Kenai Peninsula, kayak alongside otters and glaciers in Resurrection Bay, and hike along expansive ice fields. After a day of hard exercise, relax by a fire and enjoy fresh Alaskan seafood in luxurious lodgings.
You’ll feel especially good about your tour knowing that Austin Adventures’ president Dan Austin started a nonprofit called Wheels of Change International. The organization collects old bikes and ships them to economically-challenged communities in southern Africa and Jordan. They send these bikes in shipping containers, which are then converted into a bike shop that rents bikes at a discounted cost. Austin Adventures trains locals in bicycle mechanics, running a business and setting up bike tours for visitors. 100% of profits go back into the community, empowering locals and creating sustainable revenue streams.
This moderately difficult 6-day trip starts at $3,698.
5) Learn About Chili & Support A Community-Minded Company
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Want your first biking adventure to be something you can feel good about? Experience Albuquerque’s chili culture with Routes Bicycle Tours & Rentals. They’ve partnered with New Mexico Department of Agriculture to create an educational, scenic and delicious tour dedicated to the state’s famous peppers. You’ll visit six culinary partners, learn the difference between “red, green and Christmas,” and sample chili in classic, sweet and savory combinations. You’ll also pedal through some of the city’s most scenic locations and learn why the area’s climate makes chili taste so good.
Routes Bicycle Tours gives back to the community in many ways. First, the company donates free tours to charities and local businesses that offer health programs for their employees. Additionally they donate bikes, parts, accessories and helmets to Casa Esperanza – the free community bike space that teaches kids to build bikes, which they get to keep. You can often find them offering free tune-ups to the community at events, and providing heavily discounted tune-ups for the homeless and low-income individuals who rely on their bicycles to get around.
Click here for more information. This 3.5 hour tour costs $65.
International Charity Cycle Rides
6) Pedal Through Provence & Help Impoverished Communities
Feel like going on a cycling adventure in Europe? Consider joining Intrepid Travel’s Real Cycling Adventures on a journey through Southern France. You’ll peddle past rows of vineyards, quaint towns, Roman relics and lavender fields on a journey that combines scenic trail riding, historical sights and wine tasting. You’ll stop at the serene gardens of St Remy which inspired Vincent van Gogh’s greatest masterpieces, and sip regional red wines at a vineyard outside Avignon. Wandering the cobblestone streets of Les Baux and marveling at the stunning views atop its cliffs is also a highlight.
Proceeds from all Real Cycling Adventures are donated to Bicycles for Humanity, a non-profit run by volunteers aiming to alleviate poverty through sustainable transport. In the developing world owning a bike enables access to health care, education, economic opportunities and the wider community. People can travel twice as far, twice as fast and carry four times the load with a bicycle, improving life for individuals as well as their communities. Along with donated bicycles, each of the 40-foot shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop, providing employment, skills, training and economic development for the local community.
This intermediate-intensity trip covers up to 37 miles per day and costs $1,890.
7) Socialize With School Kids In India
If you’re looking for an authentic adventure through the back roads of India, join Bike Street Boys for their Ride of Pi from Pondicherry to Cochin. In Pondicherry you can take cooking lessons on organic, vegan and seafood dishes. Along the route, you’ll have access to hearty meals cooked fresh to avoid stomach issues, bottled water and coconut water at every rest stop. As you travel from coast to coast, you’ll come across leafy forests, beautiful beaches and colorful historic buildings.
For this start-up, local support and giving back is vital. You’ll ride through remote villages where some people have never seen a foreign tourist. Previous tours have stopped at local schools to drop off supplies and chat with students, allowing them to see what is out there.
Click here for more information and advice for planning your trip around a local festival. This 10-day trip is relatively easy and costs $2,700.These cycling tours are all about making a difference in people's lives (esp. #5)! Click To Tweet
8) Discover Mysterious Myanmar & Help Elephants
If you’ve dreamed of cycling through a land undisturbed by tourism, here’s your chance. VBT offers a temples and trails tour through Myanmar. In addition to daily bike rides, you’ll meet some of the native Burmese hill tribes, boat through mangroves for bird-watching opportunities, fly in a balloon over Bagan’s temples, and more. You can also learn how to source and cook food with local methods, taught by a professional chef. You’ll visit Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp and help employees bathe and feed retired timber elephants and more.
This 13-day tour is suitable for regular recreational cyclists and has a daily mileage ranging from 12 to 31 miles. Prices start at $4,845.
9) Contribute to Conservation Efforts In The U.K
If you want to learn more about the invention of the pedal bike, or even visit the birthplace of the modern bicycle, Wilderness Scotland’s new 12-day bike tour will take you there. This 500-mile trip takes you through five storybook-inspired places around the United Kingdom and Ireland, and passes through Keir Mill, a small Scottish village where Kirkpatrick Macmillan invented the pedal bicycle in 1839.
The trip starts in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. From there, you head south into Wales to explore Snowdonia National Park, followed by a short boat ride to Ireland to cycle through Dublin. You even get to pedal Torr Road, featured in Game of Thrones. The tour ends with a pleasant cycling tour through the quiet countryside of Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway region.
Wilderness Scotland donates £5 per tour to the John Muir Trust which owns and manages many of Scotland’s parks. Additionally, they provide financial and organizational support to the Wilderness Foundation UK, and ask guests to consider supporting Trees For Life, which is dedicated to preserving the ancient Caledonia Forest.
The tour costs ~$3,360 USD.
10) Cycle the Length of Africa and Support Rural Doctors
For the ultimate cycling trip, join a hardcore journey from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa with the 15th edition of Tour d’Afrique. This trip covers 7,500 miles through 10 African countries, which certainty warrants its inclusion in Lonely Planet’s Epic Bike Rides of the World. You can either sign up for the whole four-month trip or just join a section of it. TDA will help you out with meals and luggage transfer, and provide vehicle support — but the rest is up to you!
Each year, TDA donates one bicycle on behalf of each participant going the full distance to local health care NGOs in East Africa, so that doctors can reach patients in remote villages.
The full trip costs US$16,900.
What other charity cycle rides would you recommend? Please share in the comments below!
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