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Rosie Riley
Written by Rosie Riley
Published on 25th November 2021
0 min read

Grace ter Haar reflects on three lasting impacts of her experience cycling from London to Glasgow during Ride the Change.

Ride the Change was everything I hoped for and more. I sobbed ‘this is what living is about!’ to a friend after the ride. It was moving in every sense – physically, emotionally, and through inspiring change in others. In many ways, I feel changed by the experience.

Firstly, I’m more curious about how others live and want to foster deeper human connections. The ride was expansive in terms of the landscapes we rode through, but more surprisingly in terms of the people I met. This shared experience allowed me to journey through the maps of other people’s lives and in doing so, prompted me to reflect on my own. I have a newfound appreciation for who I am and where I’ve been, and an unwinding curiosity. There’s so much out there and so many different ways to live – I want to learn more from others on how to live a ‘good’ life and put myself in the way of new life experiences.

Secondly, I feel more connected to nature. It was exhilarating and awe-inspiring riding through glorious rolling hills, in the valleys of towering mountains, alongside cascading rivers, and through exquisite forests of falling autumn leaves. I want to connect with nature even more in my everyday; through mindfulness and appreciating colours, smells and sounds; by going running in the rain; by cycling around London as much as possible; and by getting out into the great outdoors whenever I can! Nature is fundamental to our health and wellbeing and sits at the nexus of so many solutions to the world’s challenges – I also want to support regenerating nature in my community and through my work.

Right: Grace about to set off from Coventry to Stoke, with her colleagues Harriet (left) and Vanessa (Centre).

'I sobbed ‘this is what living is about!’ to a friend after the ride.'

Thirdly, I’m reminded of my strength and the power of pushing at the boundaries of what I know. One breakthrough realisation was that you get stronger each day on the ride, not weaker. There’s an incredible power in each of us, and it’s the tough moments in life that define us. We need to throw ourselves in the way of challenges and play at our edges, as that is where truth reveals itself. Struggle and strength are inextricably linked, and there’s so much at stake – particularly on climate, nature and sustainable development. I want to take this force forward and give the world what I’ve got!

None of this would have been possible without the people, and I’d like to extend a huge heart felt thank you to everyone on Ride the Change. Firstly, to the amazing organising crew for an incredible route, impeccable planning, magic vibes and such a brilliant way to engage people through pledges. Secondly, to the wonderful riders who added depth to the roads, warmth to the tea, and euphoria to the iconic Downtown club in East Kilbride. And last but not least, to my three musketeers who brought me much joy, contemplation and consolation.

Left: Cycling in Cheshire towards Manchester, right: Surviving and thriving through the wettest day, Penrith to Dumfries.