The Big Battlefield Bike Ride is part of the DNA of H4H. In fact, in 2007 when we launched, that's all we were going to do, a fund raising bike ride. We could not have predicted what H4H would have become nine years later.
Our Pedalling Padre, Father Roger, cycles with us and each day makes us think. He says that sometimes we should 'turn the volume down' and focus on what really matters; our life's journey.
He's right, we all live busy lives with so many distractions that it's difficult to turn down the volume, but on the BBBR we have a chance to hit Pause and focus on what really matters.
The ride distils life to the basics. Get up, eat, ride, laugh, cry, pedal, shower, wash the Lycra, drink, eat, sleep and repeat. It's so simple and we do it with others who share the same experience but somehow, the BBBR is much more than just a bike ride; it really is special. The ceremonies, the history, the talks, the wounded, make it unique. Something happens, some strange alchemy, something extraordinary, magic perhaps, divine even, that affects us all. We come back from the BBBR better people.
'The Big Battlefield Bike Ride is concentrated essence of Help for Heroes'.
'If everyone could spend a week like this we would have a better world'
'The BBBR reminds me that there is a point to life'
'This is my family, my team, my support'
Each year we hear from some of 'the blokes', riders who are brave enough to tell their painful stories. Their talks are honest, profoundly moving and remind us of the challenges these extraordinary people face.
We might worry about the next 'undulation' or our average speed. They talk of the challenge of leaving the house, talking to others, seeing a reason not to end it all. They explained that they had no self worth, they faced rejection, isolation and could not see the way through. They face real challenges and riding alongside them gives us a privileged insight into their world. It helps put our lives into proportion.
They stand up and talk about themselves but really they are no different from the two hundred or so 'civilian' riders. We've all got stuff we have to deal with, we've all got baggage; no one has a perfect life.
So what am I saying? Well, actually I'll take a leaf out of Father Roger's book and try to sum up his words. They go something like this. Think less about yourself, think more of others, help where you can and be grateful for what you've got. Focus on the journey, not the destination and accept that none of us can do this on our own.
The BBBR, it's more than a bike ride. H4H, it's more than a charity. This is all about life's journey and it's about focusing on what really matters. Take some time and as Father Roger says, 'turn the volume down'.
Onwards and Upwards