Lola Phoenix, a Southwark resident, is taking on a challenge event for the first time ever to raise vital funds for disability charity United Response.

On Sunday 30th July, Lola will pedal through the streets of the capital to tackle the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 – a spectacular 46-mile cycle route along closed roads throughout London and Surrey, beginning at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and finishing in The Mall.

Lola is fundraising for United Response, a national charity which supports people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health needs to live the lives they choose.

Lola wearing United Response cycling vest

It is a cause close to Lola’s heart.

“Disability is an area that I feel particularly passionate about. With my own disabilities including a life-long degenerative eye condition, as well as hormone deficiencies, blindness in one eye and other issues, I’ve personally seen the way disability can impact the way people treat you and the opportunities you have in society,” said Lola.

“I know the money I raise for United Response will go towards an organisation that campaigns on behalf of people with disabilities and lets people know how crucial it is for society to be accessible.”

The 29-year-old, who has only taken up cycling regularly in the last year, commented on the challenge:

“I’ve never really done any sporting challenge other than a fitness test I had to do in primary school, which I did very poorly on. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was 12 years old and a friend pushed me down a driveway on a bike – I pedalled for a bit, amazed at my ability to sit upright before crashing into a parked car! I didn’t grow up in an urban environment and I didn’t go out much as a kid, so I never got used to riding a bike.”

Over the last year, Lola has defied expectations and developed greater confidence on the road by cycling to work, tackling 15-18 miles a day.

“When I told people I was going to be attempting it, a lot of people were surprised by my bravery to cycle in London. But from my perspective, cycling would allow me to kill two birds with one stone; I’d get some really good exercise and take care of my transport,” said Lola.

Lola has been training hard for the big day by building up the miles and tackling hills in Richmond Park at the weekends, as well as the usual daily commute.

“When I wake up at 7am on a Saturday or Sunday, it’s sometimes hard not to want to turn my alarm off and go back to sleep. But I actually feel quite accomplished when I finish my four laps in the park and it usually gives me an energy boost throughout the day,” said Lola.

To help Lola meet their fundraising target, visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LolaUR

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