Frequently asked questions about Extra Mile Challenges
Q. HOW GOOD A CYCLIST DO I NEED TO BE TO ENTER AN EXTRA MILE CHALLENGE?
A. All kinds of people enter our Challenges, from complete beginners to experienced cyclists. It’s not a race and as long as you are able to complete the shorter route each day you will finish each day in daylight, in time for dinner. Participants must normally be over 18, but otherwise there is no age limit.
Most people will need to prepare by practising regularly over a couple of months or more before the event. Build up gradually until you are confident that you can cycle a total of 45 to 50 miles in a day, with rests. Only those already cycling similar distances at pace on a regular basis should consider taking part without preparing specifically for the Challenge. Some of the terrain will be hilly – an inevitable consequence of the beautiful countryside we seek out. None of the cycling is off road, except perhaps on designated tarmac cycle paths. Read our Safety & Welfare Instructions.
Q. WHICH BIKES ARE BEST FOR THE CHALLENGE?
A. Racing bikes are best for covering the long distances involved, as the route is all on proper roads. Commuter bikes and hybrids with smooth tyres are OK but mountain bikes with wide, knobbly tyres are slower and require more effort.
Q. HOW FAR WOULD I HAVE TO RIDE?
A. Our Challenge this year is different from previous years. Previous challenges have been team events but this year each cyclist cycles the whole route. Each day there is a choice of a longer or shorter route and therefore each cyclist will cover around 100 to 170 miles in 3 days.
Q. HOW DOES THE RELAY WORK?
A. On previous team events, cyclists normally cycled in relay. As this year each individual rides the length of the arrowed course as an individual and not as a team, relay is not relevant. However, there is nothing stopping a small group of cyclists going together for friendship and encouragement.
Q. DO I NEED A SUPPORT VEHICLE?
A. You will need to be able to transport yourself and your bike to the start of each day’s route. The vehicle can be left there and retrieved at the end of the route. You can of course share a vehicle with friends if you anticipate similar cycling times.
Q. HOW DO I FOLLOW THE ROUTE?
A. The entire route is arrowed by our experienced marshal team. Cyclists can simply follow the arrows. A few weeks in advance of the event, everyone will receive a detailed turn-by-turn description of the route, designed to be plotted on a map, together with links to “Ridewithgps” maps and elevation charts. However, individuals are responsible for their own navigation, but in practice are greatly assisted by the direction arrows placed by our marshals. The Ridewithgps routes can be downloaded to Garmin sat-nav devices.
Q. WHAT DO THE MARSHALS DO?
A. Volunteer marshals mark the route and in general terms monitor the cyclists’ progress. Marshals’ cars are clearly identified and can provide assistance. Individuals are, however, responsible for their own safety and should refer to our Safety and Welfare Guidelines.
Q. WHAT ACCOMMODATION IS PROVIDED?
A. The entry fee includes 3 nights’ shared accommodation, in 3/4-star hotels. Our base is at the Mercure Gloucester but we may use other hotels due to the size of our party. Hence standards may vary a little. Accommodation each night will be in twin-bedded rooms. You should select a companion with whom to share but we may be able to put you in touch with another cyclist. Single rooms are not normally available because the price is somewhat prohibitive.
Q. WHAT MEALS ARE PROVIDED?
A. Breakfast each morning and evening meals with wine in the local hotel or restaurants are provided. As far as possible within the hotels we aim to eat as a group. On Sunday there is an end-of-Challenge gala dinner (not formal!). All this is included in the entry fee. We will pass on requests for special meals for vegetarians and those with other dietary requirements if you notify us well in advance (but we can’t guarantee that the restaurants will accommodate every special diet).
Q. HOW SECURE WILL MY BIKE BE OVERNIGHT?
A. Our hotels usually have their own car parks but these may not be locked. Locking cycle sheds or space in the hotel are unlikely. Invest in good quality locking devices so you can ensure that all bikes are safely locked to your vehicle overnight. Insurance is the cyclist’s responsibility but we may be able to assist through agents Bullerwell & Co. Be aware of the value of your bike and check cover available through your own travel or household insurance. Specialist bike insurance may be available to members of organisations such as the Cycle Touring Club www.ctc.org.uk.
Q. WHAT SORT OF CLOTHING SHOULD I TAKE?
A. First and foremost, padded cycling shorts!
Shirts in modern, technical fabric are the most comfortable during and between turns on the bike. Cotton, once wet from rain or perspiration, takes much longer to dry. Pack waterproofs and warm clothing for cold, early morning starts. Windproof, full-finger gloves will also be appreciated if the early mornings are chilly.
Clean casual wear is appropriate for dinner in the evenings. Jackets and ties are not the norm.
Q. HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I TAKE?
A. For the nights when dinner is provided, it includes a modest wine allowance and water. Bed and breakfast are provided within your entry fee for all three nights.
You will need to provide your own drinks and snacks (including lunch on the move) during each day’s cycling and particularly on the Friday. However, we are looking at how we can help with this. More news to follow
You may need pocket money for additional bar drinks, souvenirs etc!
Q. WILL THERE BE PRIZES?
A. The Challenge is NOT a race so there will be no prizes for the fastest, first to finish etc.
The only award that we will definitely make is for the individual that raises the most money for charity. Our one big driver is to give away as much as possible to other charities.
Any other awards are solely at the discretion of the organisers. On occasions in the past we have given prizes for Spirit of the Challenge, best dressed vehicle or a KCOC award (for a major cock-up) if we have seen something special.
The organisers’ decision is final in respect of all awards!
Q. WHY IS THE ENTRY FEE SO LOW?
A. Extra Mile Challenges is supported by financial contributions from commercial supporters. They are highlighted on various pages of this website. Their contributions subsidise your entry fee and cover all administrative expenses of Extra Mile Challenges. Much organisational work, and the event marshalling, is done by volunteers from the Rotary Clubs of Milton Keynes Grand Union and of Bedford Park. Extra Mile Challenges has no paid staff. Thus, every penny we receive of your sponsorship will be donated to charity, with no deduction by Extra Mile Challenges for administration or expenses.
Q. ON ENTERING AN EXTRA MILE CHALLENGE DO I HAVE TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITY?
A. Yes. All entrants commit to raising at least the organiser’s minimum requirement for charity which for the 2021 Magnificent Severn Cycle Challenge is £200 (before gift aid). Many entrants raise a lot more than the minimum.
Q. CAN I RAISE MONEY FOR MY OWN CHOICE OF CHARITY?
A. Yes, for the majority of your fundraising. 75% of the sponsorship raised by you goes to your own selected charity. The remaining 25% plus all gift aid is split between the organiser’s charities and the charitable funds of the Rotary clubs of Bedford Park and of Milton Keynes Grand Union.
Q. HOW IS THIS 75%/25% ALLOCATION ACHIEVED?
A. Initially all on-line sponsorship should be raised through Virgin Money Giving on an account opened by you in favour of Extra Mile Challenges (not your selected charity). This enables Extra Mile to retain the 25% plus gift aid and then remit to your selected charity the remaining 75%. Off-line sponsorship should be cheques payable to Extra Mile Challenges and sent to Extra Mile at an address to be provided. Our website will have a link to a Gift Aid Claim form for use with off-line donations. All sponsorship should be passed to Extra Mile within two months of the Challenge date.
We wish to explain the important reason for this procedure. If you raise money direct for your selected charity, there is no process to direct the 25% committed to the organiser’s charities.
We can pay money to your chosen charity direct or we are happy to hand you a cheque in favour of your charity so that you can makke a personal presentation, your choice.
Virgin Money Giving
We have used Virgin Money Giving for many years as a relatively cost effective platform for raising on-line donations. As previously stated it is essential that you specify Extra Mile Challenges as your charity at this stage. We then receive all monies which will be allocated to you for the purposes of accumulating the total sponsorship raised by you. Not following our process may require you to provide the amount due to the organiser’s charities.
Q: Can I raise money for a good cause (for example a named disabled individual) that is not actually a registered charity?
A: Extra Mile Challenges policy is to donate only to registered charities. We are not in a position to vet the suitability of individual cases and must ensure that our proper governance criteria are met. One way to support an individual in need through your Extra Mile Challenge may be to identify an existing registered charity working in the relevant field. If you give them details of your intended beneficiary, they may be willing to allocate your fundraising to that particular case. Obviously, it would be best to discuss this with the selected charity well before the event.