After over 100 days of Israel’s bombardment in Gaza, killing over 24,000 Palestinians, hundreds will take to the roads for solidarity cycles across the world this Saturday, 20 January – and again in February. Called the Great Ride of Return, events are taking place in numerous locations.
The Great Ride is a series of upcoming cycles which follow the success of 60+ organised rides worldwide earlier this month. Inspired by Palestinian para cycling team, Gaza Sunbirds, these will be supported by a number of partnered organisations including the Big Ride for Palestine, AMOS Trust, and Native Women Ride.
The Gaza Sunbirds were founded after champion cyclist Alaa al-Dali was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper during the 2018 Great March of Return, in which thousands of Palestinians protested to demand an end to the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza.
His injuries led to amputation of his leg, and after the founding of the team, Gaza Sunbirds now includes around 20 Palestinian para-athletes who suffered similar life-altering injuries. Prior to the ongoing Israeli offensive against Gaza, the Sunbirds were training in the hope of landing a wildcard place at the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
Karim Ali, co-founder of the Gaza Sunbirds, said:
We’re getting on our bikes now to keep carrying our voice forward. The Sunbirds will never be able to compete if we don’t survive this genocide.
Since Israel’s attacks, the Sunbirds have had to turn their attention to surviving the bombing and intensified siege of Gaza, while helping to distribute food and other mutual aid locally, and rallying a global community of cycling followers now in the tens of thousands to ride for freedom during these organised cycles.
The Great Ride of Return for Palestine
In the UK, The Great Ride of Return is led by the Big Ride for Palestine, which has been organising Palestinian solidarity rides nationwide since 2015. Big Ride for Palestine is also one of over 60 sign ups to Gaza Sunbirds’ Athletes for Palestine – a campaign aiming to unite the world through sport.
The 6 January ride saw 61 group rides globally – from El Salvador to Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manchester, Singapore, Cape Town, Los Angeles, and many more cities besides.
This powerful international moment was collaboratively inspired, supported, and regulated by the Sunbirds and US-based Indigenous cycling collective, Native Women Ride. The latter is another new sign up to the Athletes for Palestine campaign.
Now, organisers are anticipating an even larger turnout, with more riders in more cities for upcoming cycles in the series.
Team captain Alaa al-Dali asked cyclists worldwide to:
Join us on our journey to send a powerful message to the world to stop the siege of Gaza. We ride for freedom.
You can join or organise a Great Ride of Return solidarity cycle in your city on 20 January or Saturday 10 February. More information is available here.
20 January Great Ride of Return global locations:
- Sheffield with Big Ride for Palestine (UK): 9:30am at Ellemere Green.
- Bristol with Big Ride for Palestine (UK): 10am at Clifton Downs Water Tower.
- Birmingham with Big Ride for Palestine (UK): 10:30am at MAC, Cannon Hill Park.
- Hastings with Big Ride for Palestine (UK): 11am at General Dynamics.
- London with Big Ride for Palestine (UK): 11:30am at the National Theatre, Southbank.
- Brussels (Belgium): 12:30pm at Tronte metro station.
- Burgos (Spain): 9:44am ay TBC.
- Chicago (Illinois, US): 5:00pm at 325 East Illinois Street.
- Asheville (North Carolina, US): 6:00pm @ Pack Square Amphitheatre.
- Tuscan (Arizona, US): 10pm at BICAS 2001 7th Avenue.
- Toronto (Canada): 5am at Grange Park.
Featured image via Big Ride for Palestine