On September 27th, SJ Cycling held its flagship Ali Asghar Water Appeal Sportive for the year 2020 attracting 98 alme riders of different abilities aiming to ride from Hujjat Stanmore to Windsor and back totalling 54 miles, accompanied by a £72k fundraising campaign in partnership with WF-AID.
This event was originally planned to take place on the 13th September however due to the current circumstances it had to be postponed. Since we had full control over the sportive in terms of planning and logistics, with the help of our dear volunteers and sponsors, we were able to postpone the event and hold it on a suitable day alhamdulillah.
There were weeks and months of preparation put into planning for the sportive by both the SJ Cycling Men and Ladies Core team. Initially we concentrated on registration and fundraising as we set ourselves an ambitious target to raise £72K and soon enough we were registering riders on waiting lists. The interest was immense.
The core team and volunteers were equally excited and enthusiastic to deliver the event without any hiccups. They diligently worked on preparing all aspects of the sportive from host location, route planning, information packs, logistics, nourishments, reccy, medals, jerseys and most importantly operations. The countless sacrifices made by our organizing team behind the scenes has not gone unnoticed.
This preparation was like no other indeed. As rules and regulations constantly changed due to the severe COVID situation and lockdown restrictions being re-evaluated by the government we were in constant communication with the Hujjat C19 Task Force, British Cycling and other associated organisations to ensure #WeFinishWhatWeStarted ensuring we play by the rules and ensure everyone’s safety.
Thanks to the nominated Ride Leaders we managed to deliver a handful of test rides in order for the Ride Leaders to be familiar with the route to ensure safety for their groups and accurate navigation on the event day as well as valuable feedback for the route itself to avoid potential hazards and challenges.
This event was officially accredited by British Cycling.
DURING THE EVENT
During the early hours of September 27th, on a relatively calm but crispy cold morning, the Core team and volunteers arrived at Hujjat promptly to start setting up Hujjat in preparation for the event and riders. Within no time Hujjat looked set to host SJ Cyclings’ first ever sportive event with banners, insignias and other event materials spread across the field.
As the first batch of riders started arriving at 5:30am, their temperatures were checked upon entry and were then asked to make their way to their designated group areas in the main car park. Once the first six groups arrived by 5:45am the groups were registered and asked to make their way to the mawkeb for some much needed nourishment and fuel for the inevitable ride.
At the same time, Ziyarat-e Ashura was recited at 6:10am by Br. Ali Hassan Jagani followed by motivational and uplifting speeches by Dr. Munir Datoo and Br. Altaf Daya. The groups then started to promptly start the ride in groups of 6 at 5 minute intervals from 6:30am.
Starting at the heart of Stanmore, at our Hujjat Islamic Center, the 54 mile sportive took riders on a truly unforgettable journey through Surrey passing Stanmore, Pinner, Ruislip, Uxbridge and onto the iconic Windsor great park around Virginia Waters and Windsor Castle.
Alas, it was time to re-fuel. We had organised a safe place for riders to stop and refuel at Romneylock Road in Windsor. As it was a relatively warm day our riders enjoyed socially distanced their lunch and baraza at the lunch stop before they set off on their return journey to Hujjat.
On return our riders were presented with their exclusive SJ Cycling AAWA Finishers Medal, a kind gift from WF (snood) and pose for photographs. We had the pleasure to welcome Mark Doel – Regional Events Officer at British Cycle to observe and hand out some finishers medals. The rider groups were then asked to make their way back to their designated areas in the main car park for Linner courtesy of our Mawkib team before making their way back home.
As the final groups made their way back to Hujjat and as the event was officially concluded at around 3:00pm, there was a great sigh of relief from all the core group and volunteers. Alhamdulillah we managed to collectively pull it off without a hitch ensuring the event was enjoyable and safe for all.
Alhamdulillah we were blessed to have successfully planned and delivered this magnificent event in lieu of the constantly changing landscape. We thank Allah and yourselves for praying and supporting us throughout this journey.
Amongst the riders we were most impressed with our 10 Under-16 riders who managed to ride the entire 54-mile route effortlessly and with camaraderie that would make any organisation proud. A young team who have taken on the responsibility to bring awareness to the basic human requirement for clean water. Their achievements give us great confidence in the future of cycling within our community.
A total of 98 riders cycled a magnanimous 5,292 miles and climbed 186,200 feet of elevation collectively. To put it into perspective, the total distance ridden is equivalent to riding from Najaf to Karbala a staggering 113 times, and the total elevation is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest a whopping 21 times!
Upon reflection AAWA (Ali Asghar Water Appeal) was not just a cycling event, a sportive; AAWA sportive is a movement that has demonstrated the best of who we are, the best of what we can achieve when we come together. Collectively we have raised over £100,000 for WF-AID – such an outstanding achievement whose unmeasurable rewards can only be justly derived from the Almighty.
As we wrap up the sportive, we would like to wish our Ladies counterparts a successful and safe ride on the 11th of October 2020.
To bring clean drinking water to those who are less fortunate than we are; those, whose only hope is our generosity. This was our time and together we once again rose to the challenge and affected humanity in so many ways in #makingadifferencetogether by #givingthroughsport.
We have been truly humbled and blessed to have your support throughout this campaign and there are far too many people to thank, our sponsors, supporters, donors, riders and volunteers who have helped us throughout this journey.
For now, let us keep #cycling and #makingadifferencetogether by #givingthroughsport.
Please visit our Media Gallery to view photos and videos from the sportive.