This November, the great and good of the transport industry will abandon the swish interior of their company cars for a hard saddle and a set of pedals, as they set off to cycle 420 km of Indian Ocean coastline.
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And it’s not just the appeal of a personal challenge that has drawn these high-flyers together either. They will be supporting international development charity Transaid in its sponsored event, Cycle Tanzania, which will raise funds to save and improve lives in Africa and the developing world.
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This nine-day expedition – across the dusty terrain of game and nature reserves under the unforgiving African sun – will help Transaid facilitate access to healthcare, education and work for thousands, by providing them with safer, cheaper and more efficient transport.
The initiative, which runs from November 6th-14th, has attracted teams and individuals from all areas of the transport industry – and more than half of the available places have already been snapped up.
Chris Saunders, CEO of Transaid, says he has high hopes of raising even more with November’s expedition than last year’s Cycle Zambia, which generated over £100,000.
“Our list of participants includes names from Michelin, DHL, CILT and FTA,” he said. “This truly is the UK transport industry coming together to do something for people whose lives need improving.”
Many registered participants have already started training in preparation for the five days’ solid cycling that will take them on their journey from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro.
Michelin’s team of four, headed by Truck Sales Account Manager Stefanie Machnik, has lined up a series of UK-based events to raise extra funds – and fitness levels – in advance of the final slog.
“I’m sure we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Ms Machnik. “Cycle Tanzania is not going to be any old Sunday afternoon bike ride.
“We’ve brainstormed for ideas to get us in shape prior to the event, and add as much as possible to the amount we raise.”
Funds raised will help Transaid establish a Professional Driver Training project in Tanzania, following the success of the charity’s first project to reduce road deaths in Zambia. Road deaths are currently the third highest cause of premature death in Africa after HIV Aids and Malaria, a problem Transaid is addressing by raising driver training standards and safety on the roads.
“Coming face-to-face with the issues we’ll be helping Transaid tackle is bound to be a real eye-opener,” she said, “but I’m looking forward to the experience itself, as well as engaging in Transaid’s work.
“We’ll be passing wild beasts, mountains and waterfalls,” she added, “and seeing it all from our bikes too – not from inside some air-conditioned 4×4. We’ll come back having seen the real Africa – and achieved something good for the world through our efforts.”
CEO Chris Saunders added: “With less than half of the available places left, we’d urge anyone keen on participating to get in touch soon, to avoid disappointment.”
Participants are asked to pay a registration fee of £299, and make a commitment to raising a minimum sponsorship of £3,000. Registration packs are available to download at www.transaid.org. Alternatively, call 020 7387 8136 to request an information pack, or email email@example.com.
Transaid will run a sister expedition, Trek Ethiopia, in February 2011. See Transaid’s website for details.