Gallery: The “chosen hardship” of Lachlan Morton’s ride to Ukraine
Lachlan Morton is no stranger to big rides – in fact, in recent years, they’ve become his calling card. From 1,000 km mountain bike races to a solo circuit of the Tour de France, Morton’s rides are as bold as they are breathtaking.
This time was a bit different. For his latest venture – One Ride Away – there was a humanitarian impetus behind it.
When Russia invaded Ukraine a month ago, Morton was racing the Gran Camiño stage race in Spain – one of his occasional forays outside of the ‘alternative calendar’ into more conventional road racing. As news broke of war in Europe, Morton’s team mate, the Ukrainian Mark Padun, was sitting across the table from him, preparing to race his bike while his country was being attacked.
The jarring juxtaposition of that moment stuck with Morton, who began to think about what he could do with his profile to bring attention to the worsening crisis. In the end, there was one clear answer: another big bike ride.
“I’m just trying to do the one thing I know how to do and engage the bike-riding community to help,” Morton said before he set off. “My idea is to highlight the fact that war is not a far-off problem. Conflicts are a bike ride away, all over the world. That’s the intention behind it, and to try and raise as much money as we can to help out people who have been displaced.”
The Australian’s mission: to ride 1,063 kilometres to the border of Ukraine – through south-eastern Germany, across Czechia, across Poland – in one big push. “It feels like it is some far-off, distant terrible thing that is going on, that is almost a world away. But the reality is that it is not,” Morton explained. “So, I hope that covering that distance on a bike, and interacting with people on the way, will help to cement the reality of it a bit more.”
At 5 am on March 19, Morton set off from Munich, Germany. Along the way he was joined by dot-watchers and cheered by supporters on the side of the road. Through two days, and two nights, he reeled the border towards him. As he did, the tally of funds raised kept ticking upward.
Morton’s initial target – to be donated to the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund – was US$50,000. On the second day, that had been revised up to US$150,000. By the time a weary, cold Morton pulled to a stop at the Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing – not far from Lviv – more than US$190,000 had been raised. At time of writing, that tally has ticked over US$235,000. EF Education, Cannondale, and Rapha have committed to an additional US$100,000 donation.
Throughout the ride, Morton was cold, and tired, and hungry, but that discomfort had a start and an end. Visibly emotional at the border, he contextualised his latest venture.
“This marks the end of a chosen hardship for me, but this is symbolic of a hardship that is being forced on a whole bunch of people just on the other side of this border,” he said. “I’m glad that as a cycling community we could get together and help those people.”
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