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The Canal Cycle Challenge


Cycle for St Basils, to stop the cycle of homelessness.

  • Start Date: 11th May, 2024 @ 8:00am
  • Location: Birmingham canal system

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The Canal Cycle Challenge

Help St Basils to end the cycle of homelessness

We are pleased to announce that the Canal Cycling Challenge 2024 has been confirmed for May 11th, with two new routes on the historic canal system of the West Midlands.

By raising funds and awareness through a competitive and friendly cycling challenge, we aim to provide essential support to young people at risk of homelessness in the West Midlands, who are in increasing need of our help.


Earn your medal

This year, you can choose between a 20 or 50 mile cycling challenge, earning yourself a medal in the process.

Meet your community

Meet fellow cyclists, companies and families from all over the West Midlands who are passionate about ending youth homelessness.

Treat your bicycle

Get your bicycle pampered by our friends at Gear Up- another charity dedicated to helping young people learn skills and confidence for gainful employment.

What will the event involve?

You will be challenged to ride 20 or 50 miles throughout the West Midland’s world famous canal system, starting and finishing at our hub in Digbeth.

The views of the canal are truly insta-worthy, making for great photo opportunities and thoughtful cycling breaks, as well as the excitement of earning your stripes at the end with your friends, family or colleagues.

Because we don’t use signage on the canal, this challenge is as much about navigation as it is about cycling stamina, and to help you with this we give you a guide and a GPX file of the route.


  • 8am-10am*– arrive for teas, coffees, energising snacks, and a bike service from Gear Up.
  • 8am-10pm– ready to ride! Take on the 20 or 50 mile cycling challenge.
  • 2pm-5pm– earn your medal and treat yourself to some post-ride Indian food to replenish your energy levels!

*Start times vary in 15 minute blocks. You will be given a start time depending on the length of challenge chosen. 

Please read the Terms & Conditions for this event before registering.

Register Here

2023 Canal Cycle challenge

Thanks to all who took part in our 2023 event! You can see the photos from this event below:

Why should you participate?

Your participation will directly contribute to providing shelter, education, and essential support services for young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Our services include:

  • Supported Accommodation
  • Emergency accommodation
  • Care Leavers Support
  • Employability Programme
  • Homelessness prevention services (such as mediation and substance misuse support)
  • Youth Voice (a programme dedicated to preventing homelessness by ensuring young people are heard in the homelessness prevention sphere)

Every penny raised will contribute to ensuring these services stay available for those who need them. 


How long does it take to complete?
  • An average cyclist with a well maintained bike should be able to complete the short route in around 3 hours and the long route in around 7 hours.
When will me/ my team start?
  • The long route riders set off between 8am and 9am, and the short route riders between 9am and 10am. Each rider will be given a ‘wave’ time closer to the event and these are in 15 minute blocks (eg – if you are doing the long route you may be given a time slot of 8:15am). 
Do we have to be back at a certain time?
  • The event finishes at 5pm, so everyone, regardless of their route or when they set off, must be back by 6pm.
What is the tow path/ terrain like?
  • It varies from hard tarmac, concrete, and compact gravel to grass and sometimes muddy patches.
Are there check points?
  • Yes, there is a check point at the location where the short and long route split. There is also another one on the long route around the halfway mark. At these check points are marshals, water, and energy treats, but no toilets.
What happens if I have bike troubles?
  • You should phone the emergency number we give you at the start, and our friendly mechanics will come out to you.
What kind of bike should I use?
  • We suggest Mountain, ATB, or Hybrids. A road bike could suffice, but be mindful that this is a canal tow path and the terrain does vary a lot. That includes brick steps going over bridges and next to locks.
How much do I need to raise?
  • As much as you can! The registration fee simply covers the cost of putting on the event, so we really rely on fundraising to make these events impactful to our young people. Each £9 raised helps us pay for a night’s accommodation for a disadvantaged young person. You could aim for 10 nights, a month- some people have even fundraised to cover a whole year! Once your fundraising page is automatically set up, we will give you tips, tricks, and we’ll even have someone on hand to be on your side and answer any queries, every step of the way.
What does the money raised go to?
  • St Basils works with young people to enable them to find and keep a home, grow their confidence, develop their skills, increase opportunities and prevent homelessness. We rely on the support of fundraisers like yourself to prevent youth homelessness for young people aged 16-25. We help 4,000 young people every single year, and are short of £9 per young person per night to provide accommodation. Browse our website for more about St Basils.

Quote from 2023 Participant:

“I didn’t realise how much fun we would have, taking part in The St Basils Canal Cycle Challenge. Most of my friends can ride and have mountain bikes, as keeping fit and healthy is important to us all.

The route was important- we knew it would be a little challenging, but it needed to be visually interesting too as you’ll be spending a few hours in the saddle.  The route around the canals provided such a diverse experience, from industrial Birmingham through to the more rural areas of Knowle and Lapworth, where there’s several great pubs/ cafes for a well deserved stop.

Health & safety were important, and there were a number of ‘official stops’, where the volunteers made sure everyone was having a good time and were OK, offering rehydration and a few carb snacks to keep you going.

All in all, we enjoyed the route, each other’s company, and the challenge.  And not forgetting the reason we wanted to get involved in the first place – to support St Basils, by raising money so they can continue to do the great work in supporting young people at risk of homelessness.”

Register Here


We would like to say a massive thank you to the Canal & River Trust for supporting this event.

File:Canal & River Trust Logo v2.png - Wikipedia