From London to Brussels,
sixty passionate skaters and wheelchair users
join forces and spirit
to cover the distance in 6 days (60 to 90 km a day),
from 27 August to 1 September 2018.
Effort – Solidarity – Visibility – Pleasure – Sharing – Achieving – Together
London-Brussels 2018 aims to :
- demonstrate that sport can bring together the able-bodied and the disabled to achieve a common goal,
- overcome difficulties through cooperation, sharing and helping each other,
- promote wheelchair access,
- reinforce European cooperation in matters relating to wheelchair accessiblity, disability rights and participation in sport,
- share these values with the towns we go through.
Route and schedule
|Monday 27 August||London||Woolwich||Swanley|
|Tuesday 28 August||Swanley||Newington||Faversham|
|Wednesday 29 August||Faversham||Canterbury||(via ferry from Dover) Dunkirk|
|Thursday 30 August||Dunkirk||Nieuwpoort||Brugge (Assebroek)|
|Friday 31 August||Brugge||Ghent|
|Saturday 1 September||Ghent||Aalst||Brussels|
Our route for London-Brussels 2018 has some similarities to the routes of previous events :
- approximately 400 kilometres in 6 days, the distances covered each day are between 60 and 90km,
- using traffic-free cycle paths whenever possible, and quiet country lanes, avoiding busy main roads, in the interests of safety,
- chosing routes that are more suitable for skaters and wheelchair users, avoiding steep uphill climbs, sharp descents and poor quality road surfaces.
We will be setting off from London’s Southbank, crossing Westminster Bridge then heading east towards Woolwich via Parliament Square and Tower Bridge. We will be leaving London, on Bank Holiday Monday 27 August and arriving in Brussels on Saturday 1 September.
We will be passing through a large number of towns and cities during those 6 days. That will give us the chance to meet local people, officials and the media, especially in the towns where we will be staying overnight.
Interested parties can look up the planned route details and follow the team’s progress (live tracking):
see the “Map and Tracking” page.
The challenge involves a total of around 60 people (approximately 20 individuals from each of the three countries we will be passing through). All the participants, both the able-bodied and the wheelchair users, have been chosen on the basis of their enthusiasm for this project, which requires both endurance and determination in addition to constant vigilance and a cheerful disposition in the face of adversity.
The wheelchair users have a wide variety of conditions (paraplegia, amputations, degenerative illnesses, congenital conditions…). The group also includes participants with ‘invisible disabilities’ (severe head injury, deafness, organ transplants …) who will be participating in different roles.
Skaters and Wheelchair Users
The main group are a core of about 40 skaters pushing the 6 wheelchair users :
En route, each team will be made up of one wheelchair user being pushed by 3 to 4 skaters, working together and in rhythm. The lead skater will be pushing the wheelchair user, and behind him or her, each skater pushes the skater in front of them. Changing the position of the skaters within the group allows individuals to take a short break. They would then be ready to step in again when needed, and other skaters may need to help in some more difficult sections (uphill climbs, bad surfaces …)
In order to keep moving safely at relatively high speeds, we tend to use light weight ‘sport’ wheelchairs whenever possible, and we attach a third wheel to the front of the wheelchair, thus converting it into a ‘racing style’ wheelchair that is more stable at higher speeds and when going round corners. They are also equipped with disc brakes.
A small group of elite skaters accompanies the teams to keep the group moving safely forward on the correct route. This group includes a Lead Marshall, Route Marshalls who will stop the traffic at junctions and a Rear Marshall.
Behind the skaters, on all the off-road sections of the route, is the back-up cyclist, and when we are travelling on quiet country roads, inaccessible to the coach, we would also have one of our back up vehicles with a flashing light following the cortege.
About a dozen enthusiatic volunteers (both able-bodied and wheelchair users) will :
- drive the back-up vehicles ( the rear-support vehicle, the luggage van …),
- feed the skaters and the wheelchair users,
- provide snacks whenever the teams are flagging,
- set up the overnight accommodation …
To accompany the group, we will be hiring an especially adapted coach that is wheelchair accessible.
It will be available for unforeseen situations e.g adverse weather conditions. It will have a platform that can elevate the wheelchair users into the coach, and allocated space in the interior of the coach where the wheelchairs can be fixed securely. These will be used by the wheelchair users
who are unable to transfer into one of the standard seats on the coach.
We will use the ferry to cross the Channel from Dover to Dunkirk.
We will also have back-up vehicles : a rear vehicle (a minibus or a van) and a large van that will be used for luggage transport (food, bicycles, personal luggage, wheelchairs, spare wheels, tools, bedding …) This vehicle will also be used to transport certain equipment that might be needed by our wheelchair users to facilitate accessibility (ramps, shower seats …). This will also provide us with the opportunity to bring these issues up in the places that we visit.
The final location of our overnight stays are currently being reviewed.
The ideal solution, on the basis of past experience, is making use of a sports hall or gym where we lay down our camp beds or air matteresses and sleeping bags. This arrangement (rather than small individual rooms) enables us to all share the same sleeping area. This allows the able-bodied to
assist the wheelchair users in the night, when needed. These facilities usually have wheelchair accessible toilets and showers.
Having access to such locations also helps minimise the cost of the trip.
For the past several months, a devoted group of individuals from all three countries have been working hard to lay down the groundwork for this project, including :
- the general concept,
- choosing the route and checking it to make sure it is suitable both for skaters and wheelchair users,
- contacting the local authorities (the Town Halls, the sports clubs, …),
- choosing appropriate venues for the overnight stops,
- arranging transport requirements (a wheelchair-accessible coach, back-up vehicles),
- the budget and financial matters,
- communication and publicity,
- recruitment and registration of participants…
The total forecast budget for the entire trip is around £40,000.
This amount will be sourced in the following ways :
- participation fees (£200 for the skaters, £100 for the volunteers and £50 for the wheelchair users),
- fundraising and charitable donations
- sponsorship and subsidies
- contributions in kind (offers of free accommodation, free meals …)
- volunteer work
See how you can contribute, on the page “How can I help?”.
This event is not just a friendly sporting challenge. It brings together the able-bodied and the disabled in a spirit of collaboration and highlights the difficulties disabled people encounter on a daily basis, while presenting these individuals in a favourable light.
We will make use of various means to publicise this event (press releases, social media …) before and during the challenge. We aim to provide a positive image of the athletic achievement of the participants in addition to the all-important accessibility issues.
During the entire journey, our team (and our local partners) will be contacting local and national news outlets to:
- engage the public and make them aware of this event,
- make use of this opportunity to promote wheelchair accessibility
- highlight and promote existing local initiatives in this field.