Charity Cycle Event • Andalucia, Spain
Fully Supported •
Ride the Highest Road in Europe
Challenging• Route options for Road Cyclists and Hybrid Riders
4 Days: tbc - Raise 1,100 Euros - RIDE TO THE SKY 7 Days: tbc - Raise 1,600 Euros - SEA TO THE SKY
After the enjoyment and success of the first 3 editions of the Umoza Challenge Bike Event, we are proud to present 2 challenges for 2014:
1) RIDE TO THE SKY - a 4 day event, daily average distances of 80km, total ascent of 2500m. Inland Andalucia to the highest road in Europe.
2) SEA TO THE SKY - a 7 day event, daily average distances of 90km, total ascent of 4500m
Mediterrenean Sea to the highest road in Europe.
What is it?
The Umoza Challenge "Ride to the Sky" is a charity challenge cycling event in stunning Andalucia, Spain. It is an exciting opportunity to use biking as a platform in order to sustain and develop a community program for street children in Malawi.
Push yourself to achieve the goal of cycling the ultimate test: ascending to 2,500 metres on the highest paved road in Europe through the Sierra Nevada mountains – you will Ride to the Sky!
You may not know how poor Malawi is.
You may not even know where it is on a map.
But you do know that you can make a difference to children and their lives by participating in this charity event.
Choose between a 4 day or a 7 day event, and different route options to challenge both road bikers and hybrid riders. With a great crowd of riders already registered, and a day at the end to explore the fascinating city of Granada, this will be a guaranteed adventure. Read on.......
The aim is to raise funds for UMOZA (meaning “togetherness”), a school for street children in Northern Malawi, Africa run under the auspices of St John of God.
In a country where 49% of children under 5 are chronically malnourished and HIV leaves many children orphaned, it is an important program in giving youth hope and a chance at creating something sustainable and worthy in their lives. It´s main goal is to feed and provide education to destitute children, offering support for the local community and the children the chance to express themselves through music.
The charity project is the brainchild of famed Irish music producer John Dunford (manager of Meteor winner Sharon Shannon - quadruple platinum selling artist), who sponsors the school, music teachers and workshops. Granada is chosen as the location to ride, not only because of the amazing scenery and goal of riding the Sierra Nevada (as featured as a stage finish in this year's Tour of Spain race), but it is also significantly the final resting place of St John and fittingly connects the school to the challenge.
Through his diligent charity work in association with the Tom Dunford Foundation, John recorded a CD of UMOZA´s music called Timbuka Voices. The CD also features Sharon Shannon and Justin Adams, World Music Producer at Peter Gabriel's studio and guitarist to Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin).
Sharon, who has recorded and toured with a who's who of the Irish and Global Music Industry (including Bono, Adam Clayton, Sinead O’Connor, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, The Chieftains, The Waterboys, Willie Nelson, Nigel Kennedy, and Shane MacGowan to name a few) recently played a concert in Ireland for the Umoza school to get this year´s fundraising off to a great start.
John meets Michael Higgins, the new President of Ireland
At the end of November 2011, John was called to meet the newly elected president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins to discuss the charity and Umoza Challenge bike ride before a trip to Malawi. John was given a poem by the president ("Beyond the Eye") that he took to the Umoza school to be interpreted by the children into song and dance. A video will be made and returned to the president - a real honour for the charity and all involved.
John Dunford (right) beside the President of Ireland at his official residence Aras an Uachatarain
A documentary of UMOZA called CROI TE NA hAIFRICE (The Warm Heart of Africa) was broadcast in June 2010 on Irish TV. Watch a clip from this documentary here, featuring the UMOZA school and John´s sponsorship of the music project.
Another documentary was made at the end of 2012, and aired on Irish TV.
Read about UMOZA and Brother Aidan´s work in the Irish Times here.
See the UMOZA Challenge webpage for more information on UMOZA and the charity work.
Previous year´s rides
The Umoza event started in 2010 and began in a different format of a 680km route from Lisbon, Portugal to Granada, Spain. The event was also ridden by Tony Griffin, Irish sports star and trans-Canadian charity bike rider who raised over $1million for cancer research - INSPIRATIONAL! His book “Screaming at the Sky” is out now, with the foreword written by Lance Armstrong. We were also lucky enough to be joined by Keira-Eva Mooney, Irish national level triathlete – all great companions who helped publicise the event and were fantastic fun to ride with.
The last few years of the Umoza Challenge have attracted all levels of cyclists including Belgian triathletes training for an Iron Man to beginners who had never cycled more than 50km in a day. With John himself riding each year, everyone achieved their goals of raising money for the Umoza school. The funds raised were used to sponsor international music/sports teachers (paying travel and subsidence), create a collection of instruments, record the CD for the children and make the documentary film for TV. The success of the project has been such that 5000 copies of the film have been sent to all secondary schools in Irleand to raise awareness. A second CD is in the pipeline to fund more money, with the children again playing the instruments.
Press events and TV coverage for the Umoza Challenge 2014 Ride to the Sky are being lined up. Watch this space....John and the gang will be riding again next May.
Who is the challenge open to?
Everyone like you! Anybody who wants to cycle the open roads of Spain and challenge themselves, whilst raising money for a worthwhile cause. A massive 60% of your sponsorship fee will be donated directly to Umoza. Your entry fee covers the price of running the event (including great accommodation, breakfasts, dinner where stated, Umoza challenge cycling jersey, transfers, guides, support, snacks etc) and makes a big donation to UMOZA to change people´s lives. With some ideas on fundraising provided upon registration, and some help from family and friends, this amount is realistically attainable.
Wear your complimentary Umoza Challenge Cycling Jersey with pride. Here´s Lorretta wearing hers with none other than the parents of Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre.
Either pay for the trip personally (your own donation) or raise the funds - you just need the registration fee of 200 Euros, plus a minimum sponsorship requirement of 900 Euros (total 1,100 Euros) for the 4 day event, or 1,400 Euros (total 1,600 Euros) for the 7 dayer by 1st April 2014.
Each day there will be 2 cycling options: (average 70km or 100km daily) plus the Ride to Sky day of ascending to 2200m or 2500m. The route is hilly, but with some pre-event training and full support from us here at Cycling Country we can help you achieve your goals. Local guides will be out on the route cycling and guiding, and our support vans will be there offering drinks, snacks, bike support, luggage transfers and full guidance. Be prepared to ride 70km+ a day over and ascend the highest road in Europe. This will be the challenge of a lifetime and you too could make a difference to the lives of children less fortunate than us.
Contact us and and will sent you a secure online booking form for the event. Then,
Get fundraising, Get training, GET EXCITED! Cycle for a Better Future.
Peter Connolly, occupational therapist and cyclist for the 2012 challenge, discusses the event and what he thought when he last visited the Umoza project in Malawi (1 minute video).
Great comaraderie and fun on the roads of Spain
Ride the highest paved road in Europe
Great routes for riding and/or training
Granada, one of Spain´s most beautiful towns
Andalucian hospitality, tapas, vino & cerveza
And all to raise money for those in need
DAY BY DAY- 7 DAY "SEA TO SKY" EVENT
Malaga to Torre del Mar
Arrival Day: We greet each other at Malaga airport arrivals 1200 midday or Malaga central (1300 hrs) to begin our adventure (NB - transfers can also be arranged from Granada airport). Take a short transfer out to the mountains of Malaga before embarking on a warm up ride of 30kms. Ponder the adventure that lies ahead....but preferably not in the bars just yet! Prepare for a magnificent descent to our hotel on the Mediterranean seaside resort of Torre del Mar.
At 20:00 we meet all the riders for a group dinner together in a local restaurant.
Torre to Alhama de Granada 85km or more
From Sea to Sky!....that means we start heading up from the coast into the rural highlands. Take on a category climb with hairpins that has featured in many pro bike races as we ascend up to the village of Zafarraya. A great first challenge! Edge along the mountains tops to Alhama de Granada, described as the “unsung gem of Andalucia” by Rough Guides. Also the home of Cycling Country, this will be our base for the next few days. The accommodation is a traditional Spanish inn, run by a Flamenco singer and full of Andalucian charm.
Montefrio Ride 60km or
The ride to Montefrio is also a visual feast with some impressive mountain scenery on the way. Climb a shady ascent, used in the Vuelta a Espana 2010, before slipping down into pretty Montefrio, its church and castle standing precariously on a rocky outcrop. Venture onwards through medieval villages lost in time before returning to Alhama for maybe a well deserved soak in her famous thermal waters.
4 DAY "RIDE TO SKY"EVENT STARTS TODAY
Loop 60km or
(25km optional warm up ride)
Those on the 7 Dayer continue on with a ride that takes in the stunning coastal mountains range with views down to the Mediterranean Sea 1000m below. This is a classic day of road cycling with an exhilarating loop ride of 2 mountain passes and a change of scenery to palm trees and orchards. Pass through an ancient gap in the mountains before descending a dream pass with panoramas that fill a trip.
Or you can join the 4 Day Event today, and be picked up from Malaga airport arrivals at 1200 midday or Malaga central (1300 hrs) and transfer to Alhama. After an introduction meeting and lunch, you will have time for an optional 25km warm up ride before all riders meet for a welcome group dinner.
Alhama to Granada 60km or
We start the morning passing by glorious Bermejales lake, surrounded by mountains. A more relaxed ride today as we save our strength for tomorrow´s main event. We cycle some of the pro race route of the Vuelta a España from previous years, the afternoon is a breeze as we coast into the splendid city of Granada, the last Moorish jewel in their crown. We spend the night in a 4 star spa hotel, our base for the next 2 nights. While away time in the Arabic influenced teahouses and hidden walkways of the old quarter.
Ride to the Sky! 70km
(19km ascent to 2200m)
(25km ascent to 2500m)
The extreme challenge of riding up the highest paved road in Europe awaits us today! This is why we are all here. We start off with an easy warm up, but soon the climb begins. But don´t worry, we have all day to ascend 1500 metres up Pico de Veleta to reach 2200 metres (over 19km distance) to the ski station OR for a bigger challenge you can climb 1700 metres to reach 2500 metres. There will be support all the way for those who require it, breaking up the climb with numerous stops. We all meet for lunch at the ski station village....and then can you imagine the downhill?
Spectacular views for a spectacular day.
Arrive back in Granada before we hit the town for a celebratory group dinner. A few well earned beers will be enjoyed, we are sure.
Explore Granada &
Transfers to Malaga
A day to recover and enjoy the city of Granada. With its many plazas and historic buildings, it is a joy to amble around. We recommend a morning visit to the world famous Unesco heritage Alhambra Palace, a delight to the senses (tickets need to be booked in advance to be sure of entrance - let us know).
After lunch, we make our final afternoon transfers back to Malaga airport for onward connections (arriving at the airport from 16:00) Transfers can also be arranged to Granada airport. We bid "adios" to each other with memories of a worthwhile and fun charity challenge.
Malaga, Mediterranean Coast, Alhama, Granada, Sierra Nevada
A beautiful Andalucian inn in Alhama and a 4 star city spa hotel in Granada. All bedrooms are en-suite and based upon 2 sharing a twin room.
- All breakfasts
- 3 group dinners (of 3 courses) (or 2 dinners on the 4 dayer)
- Quality TREK hybrid or Orbea road bike hire (you are welcome to bring your own bike and transport for bike boxes will be provided -this keeps costs down allowing more money to go to Umoza)
- Umoza Challenge "Ride to the Sky" Cycling Jersey (select size when registering)
- Daily snacks (fruit, bars etc) and refreshments (water, juice).
- Pre tour pack
- Tour guide book of the Umoza Challenge 2013
- Challenge Certificate upon completion!
- Complimentary cycling water bottles
- Flights to and from Malaga, Spain
- Insurance (it is compulsory for all riders to have medical and travel insurance)
- Lunches (we will stop at a cafe or arrange pic-nic lunch - budget for 6 Euros per day for a filled baguette and drink)
- Drinks with dinner
- 2 dinners (or 4 dinners on the 7 day trip)
- Personal expenses
You can bring your own bike (we have facilities to collect and transfer bike boxes for the duration of the trip) or we can arrange quality hybrid or road bike hire included in the price.
Included - from Malaga/Granada airport, train or bus stations on the first and last days
Challenging - with van support available all the way. (Daily average of 60 km or 90km depending on routes chosen)
Quiet country and mountain roads. Hilly countryside with some longer mountain passes, including the Ride to the Sky challenge.
3 leaders with full van support to provide refreshments, act as guides, offer tips and insights throughout the day, provide directional signs where required, transfer luggage and provide on-road assistance
15 to 30 cyclists
200 Euros to enter the event
Please book your flights upon registering as prices are generally cheaper than waiting before the event.
900 Euros (4 Day event) and 1400 Euros (7 Day Event) to be raised.
You can do it!