The sunny September air, the idyllic landscape of Marche-en-Famenne and the hum of bicycles – this was the scene that welcomed participants at the 5th Doctors of the World’s Doc’Riders event in Belgium on the 16th of September.
Building on last year’s performance and success, two BENEO teams participated in this charity cycling race. With teams cycling in groups of three to four people, covering either 100 or 200 kilometres within 12 or 24 hours, this event was not just a physical challenge but also about making a difference in the world as each team commits to collect a minimum of 1500 € in donations to ensure their participation.
The best way to describe the event is “an intense sporting challenge combined with a tangible act of solidarity to support the most vulnerable people in Belgium and the rest of the world”.
The journey begins.
As the sun continued to shine bright in Marche-en-Famenne, cyclists from all over gathered at the start line, including two fully motivated and energized BENEO teams. 14.00 hours/2 pm marked the start of this sporting team-event! Ready, set and they’re off!
Team 1 “BENEO#1” geared up to ride 200 km and Team 2 “BENEO#2” set out for the 100 km distance. The winding gravel roads and rolling hills of the surrounding provided both a physical and mental challenge. However, they were never alone on their multi-hour race, thanks to the many volunteers and supports cheering them on!
The importance of teamwork
Both teams were brimming with spirit and determination which allowed them to be off to a good start. Or so they thought… After no more than 20 km into the race, a flat tire for Team 1! Teamwork and skillfulness were immediately put to the test, as teams must foresee their own technical support and bike repairs along the journey. Luckily the BENEO riders knew exactly what to do and were on the road again in no time.
Despite this small hiccup both teams picked-up positions in the front, quite far ahead of the peloton. Two check & resting points later both teams were still riding closely together before the routes for both distances split into different directions.
We made it!
After 5 hours of intense cycling, enjoying the many nice views and being boosted at every turn by the BENEO support crew, Team 2 arrived at the finish line after 100km and 1500 altitude meters. We made it Yiehaaa!
A short triumph celebration and shower later the riders were on our way to reinforce the supporter crew to make sure BENEO Team 1 kept on going.
It was around 1:30 am when Team 1 hit the 200 km flag after an excellent ride, finishing in even below 12 hours! They ended in a well-deserved second position only minutes after the first team. The total cycling time of Team 1 could have been much shorter if it wasn’t for their series of misfortunes in the form of not one, not two, but five flat tires! Fantastic guys for not giving up and having foreseen enough spare tires 😉.
Behind the scenes: the support crew
When you think of a cycling race, you think of the cyclists who pedal their way to glory. However, behind every successful rider is a support crew working to ensure this triumph. And this race was no different!
As a supporter the job started from the moment both teams were registered.
- First step: helping with fund raising, convincing more followers to join the support crew and encouraging the riders get fit.
- Second step: race-day, which means being a true multitasker. As support crew you are in charge of providing equipment support, cheering enthusiastically along the road, giving an extra boost around every corner and ensuring everyone was stocked up on favourite snacks and secret BENEO sports potion (find out more below). Victor even provided support by bike as he joined the teams along their route!
Being personal cheerleaders and providing this extra encouragement in unexpected places was the most fun task as support crew! All teams carried a live tracker so their whereabouts were known at any given moment. The task was to find places along the route where the team could motivate the BENEO riders as they passed. And this means running, jumping, making strange wavy arm gestures, the louder and crazier the better. Thanks Silvia, for showing us how it’s done! 😊
And this of course all through the night!
Image …. a country backroad … pitch black … 2 ladies waiting in a car … engine off … where are they? … almost here? … Yes! … playlist ready? … volume on max! … and as the bike lights come closer, the rider’s favorite songs blasts loudly through the night sky, as loud as the car radio allows. Riders fired-up and we are off to the next surprise location.
The secret potion that kept our riders going
You may ask you yourself, how were both teams able to finish the race with such ease? How were they able to stay energized and fuelled throughout the complete journey?
Simple, BENEO’s Palatinose™ of course! You are probably wondering, Pala..ti… ??
It is actually pretty simple… Palatinose™ or isomaltulose, is a so-called smart sugar coming from sugar beets. Unlike conventional sugar which gets absorbed quickly, Palatinose™ is released more slowly and keeps your blood sugar levels balanced. It allows for steady and sustained release of glucose – the fuel that keeps your body running. Additionally, it supports improved fat burning during physical activity. So, it prevents the typical energy crashes often occurring during long rides like this one. Meaning both teams had sufficient energy to keep their pace, stay focused and make it to the finish line!
Want to find out more about this powerfuel ingredient Palatinose™?
Riding for a cause: Doctors of the World’s Mission
The Doc’Riders event was not just about the ride, it was about the lives that would be touched by the funds raised. Funds which will directly contribute to Doctors of the World’s initiatives; dedicated to provide essential medical care to vulnerable people and communities around the globe.
Each team committed to collecting a minimum of 1500 € in donations, ensuring that their participation was not just a personal achievement but a contribution to a much larger cause.
With the help of family, friends and colleagues the BENEO teams collected an impressive amount of 3470 €, which BENEO generously doubled bringing the total to 6940 €! To give you a sense of value: overall the 125 participating teams raised 270.107 € at this year’s Doc’Riders event! Wauw!!
A special mention goes out to our colleague Annelore who used her impressive baking skills to raise 375 € for our charitable endeavors. And on top she treated our taste buds after the race to her sweet Bokkenpootjes as well, so yummy!!
Beyond the finish line: making a difference.
The 2023 Doc’Riders event was a powerful reminder of the change that can be achieved when people come together for a common cause. And that the journey is just as important as the destination.
As we celebrate the memories made and the goals achieved by both teams at this year’s edition, let’s recognize the people that made it possible, although words are not enough…
Thank you to all of you for your donations, small or big, each and every one helped us reach our goal!
Thank you for all the support during the race, whether from a distance or up close along the track. A special THANKS to our support crew Dilyara, Petra, Timon, Silvia, Victor, Nathalie and Annelore for the spirit, energy and cheering the riders on at the most incredible places along the track… unforgettable!
And finally, CONGRATS and a sincere THANK YOU to the RIDERS, for accepting and fulfilling this challenge. WELL DONE!
Are you inspired by the perseverance of our riders or the power of the support crew?
Why not joining the BENEO team next year?! Stay tuned for more details and already note down Saturday September 14th 2024 for the 6th edition of Doc’Riders in Marche-en-Famenne!
And remember to keep on going, no matter how many flat tires life throws your way!