RAFA Rides: Testimonials 

Testimonials - Dom Lyons

Testimonials: Dom Lyons 

  • Role / rank / description
    Fixed Wing Sales Lead – Boeing Defence UK / keen cyclist.

  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    No – I have completed all of the RAFA Rides so far.

  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    Leicestershire/100 miles.

  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    A fantastic event, with a great atmosphere all raising money for a hugely worthwhile cause.

A brilliant event with a fantastic atmosphere – the organisation and linking across the world gave it a unique feel. Can’t wait for 2022’s RAFA Rides! 

love cycling

Testimonials: Sarah Lockhart

  • Role / rank / description
    Squadron Leader – Air Traffic Controller turned space geek!
    Love cycling, not so much the chaffing…

  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    It is my first year, both cycling and helping to organise it, but it certainly won’t be my last and I am in for 2022 already.
  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    I participated virtually all the way from Colorado Springs, US. I am on exchange with the US Space Force and find myself lucky enough to be posted here.
  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    Have taken part in and organised multiple RAF Association fundraising events throughout my service career but never been a part of RAFA Rides so needed to make my contribution.

The RAF Association PR team did an excellent job of reaching out to participants to ensure all personnel were involved – you felt as if your contribution and fundraising efforts meant the world.

A truly amazing charity that is likely to affect all RAF personnel and their families throughout their service in one way or another.

Dr Joanne Campbell OBE

  • Role / rank / description
    Stn Cdr RAF Cranwell, Group Captain
    Recently got back into cycling (over COVID).
  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    Yep! When 100 miles was first mentioned it didn’t really feel that far…. But I knew that people who had completed the event were positive about their experience, so we thought why not?!
  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    OC Base Support Wing at Cranwell (Wing Commander Ali Morton) rode the 100 miles together
  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    As a huge supporter of the organisation and as a Stn Cdr, I am very aware of the services RAFA provide to my folk, our veterans and wider Service family. This gave me the opportunity to give something back whilst challenging myself on the bike!

I thought the event was utterly fab! The organisation, signposting and food stops were excellent.

I have to pay huge tribute to the volunteers: their obvious care and attention was hugely welcome and particularly at the last food stop! Nothing was too much trouble for any of them and, whoever pulled together that fruit salad together – total lifesaver! Delicious.

Testimonials: Simon (Nev) Nevin

  • Role / rank / description
    Wg Cdr, RAF Waddington, RAFA Ambassador, Amateur but very keen cyclist
  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    Nope – year three; one remote and two live.
  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    Live in WotW, 175miles over two days
  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    It is the premier Service charity sports event and I am honoured to be involved with the planning of the delivery of the event, as well as actively taking part too!

I first took part whilst deployed with the RAF in the Eastern Med, during the height of the COVID pandemic. The event gave our deployment the opportunity to take part in an event that brought the team together during difficult times, raised funds for a tremendously worthwhile charity and also helped significantly with both physical and emotional wellbeing. I have since joined the team to organise each year and aim to help grow the event year on year.

It is an incredible privilege to work with such fantastic people and to see the event prove to be such an outstanding success each year, raising much needed funds and bringing such happiness to people on the day. I am looking forward to getting started on planning 2023 already!

Testimonials: Gary Waterfall

  • Role / rank / description
    Air Vice-Marshal, RAF Association Ambassador, founder of RAFA Rides and a stereotypical MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) with gear that outstrips ability. 

  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    Errr no.

  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    Live rider. A relay of 35 miles four times.

  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    Because Amy and Rachel made me. And because I care about the RAF family of yesterday and today and want to do all I can to help them when they are in need. I started this when serving – I’m now part of the RAF family of yesterday. 

It was so good to be part of RAFA Rides again this year. From the 1st ride in 2018, the event has grown each year – for the second year running we have raised over £100,000 and connected over 700 cyclists all around the world – united by wanting to help the RAF family in their hour of need. It is now a firm fixture on the cycling events calendar. The memorable moment for me will always be seeing the sea of discarded bikes after the event as all enjoy a burger, beer, live music and great company! – Well done RAFA – roll on 2023!

Testimonials: John Gorman

  • Role / rank / description
    Wing Commander John Gorman. A cycling enthusiast who enjoys a challenge!
  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    2021 was my first RAFA Rides.

  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    Participated in RAFA Rides 2021 virtually from Washington DC. Cycled 452 miles in 24 hours.

  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    Our family made the big move to USA in summer 2017. It has been a huge honour to go overseas, and a wonderful family adventure, but the coronavirus pandemic presented unique challenges; not least that we were completely separated from our families back in UK. The knowledge that the RAF Association exists as an organisation who ‘get it’ and can offer us support, is a huge comfort. I know that this equally appreciated by military families at home.

    Like many others, March 2020 saw home working becoming the norm, so I took the opportunity to switch my 26-mile daily cycle commute into Washington DC to working out on my indoor trainer. Moreover, I’ve recognised, particularly during 2020/21, that cycling is a great vehicle to give back by raising money for those in need, while boosting morale with others through virtual meet ups. I have a passion for endurance events, which has been emboldened during my US assignment through gravel cycling, so when the RAF Association announced their ride was going global virtually, I saw this as my next big goal. Typically, the ride would last up to 100 miles; my target was to ride for 24 hours straight on Zwift, joining with others around the world as we all met our own goals through this challenge as we cycled ‘round the world’ raising awareness and money for the RAF Association!

RAFA Rides 2021 was a superb event. It was fantastic to be part of a global field of participants encouraging each other as they rode for the RAF Association. Throughout the 24 hours, I was joined in Zwift by people in the US, UK, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Falkland Islands to name a few and their support and motivation kept me going for the full 24 hours!

Patrick Shea-Simmonds

Testimonials: Patrick Shea-Simonds

  • Role / rank / description
    Group Captain, Deputy Head RAF Rapid Capabilities Office.

  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    Third RAF Association event.

  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    Part of Quaranteam.

  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    Doing it because it’s my service charity!

RAFA Rides are a great way of raising money for RAF Association while having a good day out with family, friends and colleagues. They offer a range of challenges to suit different abilities and experience from novice to experienced road cyclists but all are working to the same ends while having a great day out. The rides are exceptionally well organised by a friendly and professional team who provide great support while being able to cater for all eventualities. Do some training to prepare and you also have the chance to get fitter at your own pace with a great personal challenge at the end of it. Having completed a few RAFA Rides it’s a great endeavour that makes a difference.

Mark Lorriman-Hughes

  • Role / rank / description
    Gp Capt, Station Commander RAF Waddington.
    I am not a cyclist but have some gear and a little less idea – a novice.
  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    This was my first year.
  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    I attended the event in Leicestershire in person and attempted and completed the 100 miles. It nearly broke me but I completed it nonetheless which was down to the genuine team spirit of other riders on the day.
  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    A great cause and one that is close to the heart of RAF Waddington. I wanted to champion the cause and the best way to do that was to ride in the event.

Prior to the event the RAFA engagement and support was first class.

The event itself was very well organised and executed on the day. From registration, safety, road signage, to food stops and support the experience was tremendous. Post the event the continued engagement and support from RAFA was very warming indeed.

All in all an excellent experience from start to finish…although my legs say otherwise!

Testimonials: Ian Howkins-Griffiths

  • Role / rank / description
    Enthusiastic Amateur
  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    This is my second RAFA Ride event but my first (ever) 100 mile ride.
  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    I was there, I stared down the 100 miler and won!
  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    To give a little back to an organisation that has looked after me in the past.

RAFA Rides is a very well organised event, the route is easy to follow and provide a great combination of fast flats, undulating rollers, challenging climbs and some very quick descents. The rest stops are very well stocked with fresh foods, snack bars, Tea, Coffee and Water.

Highlights are the burger (one of the best I’ve had) and the beer at the finish along with a small band and the very enthusiast welcome home.

The event is accessible to anyone, be it your first sportive or as a seasoned rider chasing a 100 mile PB. Best of all, you are supporting the work that RAFA do in supporting all RAF personnel in their times of need.

Looking forward to next year, bigger better and with more challenges.

Testimonials: Fred Wigglesworth

  • Role / rank / description
    OC 39 Sqn / Wing Commander / borrowed a bike and rode it like I stole it…

  • Is this the first year taking part in RAFA Rides?
    Yes.

  • Did you participate virtually or join us in Leicestershire? How many miles did you cycle?
    I participated virtually from Las Vegas as part of the 39 Sqn team. We cycled a cumulative 700 miles through the night, battling the heat as it only dipped below 40 deg C at around midnight!

  • Why did you choose to take part in RAFA Rides?
    RAFA Rides is an incredibly important event for raising funds, especially following the difficulty of the pandemic during which many of the usual fundraising activities didn’t happen. It also provided a much-needed relief from the monotony of lockdowns and gave us a great opportunity to reconnect with people and be part of a community – even if only virtually. Then there are the obvious benefits of burning off a few extra COVID pounds…

Being a small unit based in Nevada, we often feel a bit isolated but RAFA Rides brought us into the fold, gave us a united purpose with units all over the world, and made us feel part of something special.