Novice cyclist bikes 120 miles from Birmingham to London to raise more than £23,000 for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis

Lottie Tiplady-Bishop
19 August 2020, 16.00

An inexperienced cyclist embarked on a 120 mile trip raising £23,845 for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis.

Kasim Hussain, 24, a Business analyst from Birmingham was left feeling almost depressed as lockdown struck, so decided to do something incredible with his spare time.

After training for just two weeks, the fitness fanatic set off from Birmingham on the mammoth journey.

Kasim said: “[I] just felt like I wanted to escape.

“I’d been planning it for a while, but the real planning started two weeks ago.” After joining local Birmingham cycle group Ladypool Cycles, Kasim was given helpful tips and training by the group of cycle fanatics, who run biking groups across the country, Kasim said.

Ladypool Cycles also helped Kasim to decide which charity to donate to.

He said: “I knew something was happening in Yemen that was really bad, but I didn’t actually know much about it.

“There were lots of key facts and figures that persuaded me, such as ‘the worst humanitarian crisis.'”

Ladypool Cycles pointed him in the direction of Ummah Welfare Trust, which describes itself as “a UK-based international relief and development charity…Inspired by the Islamic teachings of empathy, generosity and selflessness, the trust aims to alleviate poverty and suffering across the world.”

Kasim was sold on the charity’s 100% donation policy, he said: “You want all the money to go to the right place.

“Every last penny you raise will go to Yemen.”

EARLY START: On the morning of the mammoth journey, Kasim headed off after just four hour’s sleep

On the evening before the journey Kasim was inundated with messages of support, but struggled to sleep due to the daunting nature of the huge challenge ahead of him.

After just four hours’ sleep Kasim hopped out of bed around 3.30am, and headed off along with two pals he met through Ladypool Cycles, and the bike shop’s owner – who cycled the first 35 miles with the trio for support.

STICKING WITH IT: At one point Kasim said the rain was slanting right into his face

Describing the actual bike ride, Kasim said: “Once I was in it, you go through the motions a bit. It’s a blur. I was going through the countryside and everything looks the same.

“When we stopped off after 60 miles we were like ‘wow it’s 60 miles, and we’ve only got another 60 to go. It wasn’t until we stopped that all three of us realised what was actually happening.

“We were all in good spirits, and that really helped a lot.”

But Kasim said it wasn’t all plain sailing – at one point he says he hit the ‘bonk’, a cyclist’s term meaning hitting an emotional and physical wall where you’re drained of energy and motivation.

And to make matters worse, the heavens opened, with Kasim describing the downpour as ‘coming straight into your face’ making the last 30 miles ‘tough’.

But the 23-year-old said he was spurred through the slump after checking his phone and seeing how the donations had continued to skyrocket.

BREAK TIME: It wasn’t until the trio took a moment’s breather that they realised how far they’d come

He had also had several heartfelt thank you messages from Yemeni friends.

Kasim said: “We’re all one at the end of the day”

But once Kasim arrived at Big Ben, it was slightly anti-climatic – due to building work at the iconic clocktower he hadn’t even realised he had arrived at his destination at first – and had to ask a passerby.

INSPIRED: Kasim was spurred on through rough patches by messages of support and rising donations

Kasim said even as he journeyed back on the train to Birmingham the next day he felt ‘really sad’, it was all over.

But when he arrived home and was greeted by his delighted family he got the celebration he deserved.

After being sprayed with lots of silly string, and smothered with hugs and congratulations, Kasim was finally able to relax.

He said he was inspired to embark on the fundraiser, adding: “It’s a big part of our religion to donate to charity, and with Eid round the corner [it felt like the right thing to do.

“Charity is a massive part of my faith and I did really connect with it in that way.”

Kasim added: “The best thing about it is I’ve actually started cycling now, and it’s a hobby I’ll keep.”

You can donate here.

HOMECOMING: Kasim greeted by his family on his return

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