Cyclist riding out for the Big Ride for Palestine. Photos: Lucy Nichols/Thomas Gibbs Cyclist riding out for the Big Ride for Palestine. Photos: Lucy Nichols/Thomas Gibbs

In spite of the coronavirus lockdown, many rode out in solidarity for the Big Ride for Palestine, writes Lucy Nichols

This weekend hundreds of activists around the country took on the Big Ride for Palestine, a cycling event that takes place every year. Normally, the Big Ride will see cyclists come together in major cities to ride the length of Gaza’s boarder with Israel, though of course this year the pandemic rendered this impossible.

Instead of cancelling the event, cyclists were encouraged to ride either alone or in socially distanced local groups. Distance was up to each individual cyclist. I decided to opt for 36 miles, which is the length Gaza’s border with Israel, and I did this over three days with my final and longest ride on Sunday the 2nd of August.

Other cyclists opted to do the full 36 miles on Saturday, though you could also choose to cycle 44 miles – the length of Gaza’s border with Israel and Egypt. The most ambitious anti-Zionist cyclists also had the option of clocking up 440 miles in the six weeks between July 20th and the end of August – a true measure of solidarity.

For me, and I imagine for many other cyclists, the Big Ride offered a chance to get fit during lockdown while promoting a very worthy cause. I received a fair amount of nodding heads and shouted compliments as I explored East London in a cycling jersey covered in the Palestine flag.

At present, Palestine is in the midst of a deadly pandemic. The occupied West Bank has seen a renewed outbreak of the virus, and the whole of Palestine has seen a surge in cases since mid-July.

Solidarity with Palestine is always crucial, but especially given the current pandemic and an increasingly oppressive Israel. The Big Ride for Palestine, then, has been a huge success, as it is every year. This year’s event was slightly different but the fact that so many people still participated demonstrates the unwavering support for Palestine, even in the face of hostile foreign governments and deadly viruses.

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