Baggy is a guide on The Big Issue Foundation’s London to Paris bike ride, having first ridden the route himself as a participant in 2008 – here he shares his story as to why he decided to support the charity.
Baggy – how did you get involved with the bike ride?
Two reasons: Firstly, I’ve always supported the charity and bought the magazine. I like the ethos of providing long term opportunities for people who are homeless, as opposed to a short term fix.
Secondly, when I was younger, I was in a situation where I was only a small step away from becoming homeless. I was 17 years old when I was involved in a motorbike accident that left me with some bad injuries, both physically and psychologically. I was having trouble at home and if my sister hadn’t stepped in to help, I could have quite easily been forced to sleep rough.
I still buy The Big Issue from my local vendor in my home town, and in 2008 I saw that they were advertising for the London to Paris cycle ride. I saw this as a great opportunity to not only support The Big Issue, but also to try a new sport; and so with only 4 months until the departure date, my wife and I sent in our registration forms and began training in earnest.
I found the ride challenging; but was very impressed with the organisation of the whole event, and also of the quality of the guides that led each group – so much so that when I got home, I decided that I wanted to become a guide and help others to ride, much the same as the guides helped me on the London to Paris.
I set about improving my own bike skills and getting advice from other cycling guides. Later on in the same year, I contacted the organisers of the bike ride to see if they would let me tag along on another one of their trips, to learn more about what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. I was very grateful for the opportunity to go on a ‘reccie’, and soon found myself guiding other riders.
Personally, I’m always happy to help people, and want to pass on my skills as a bike rider to as many cyclists as possible. I’ve guided The Big Issue London to Paris cycle ride every year since 2009, and will be there again in July.