The art of cycling overnight in central London and raising money to combat youth homelessness

On Thursday night 22-year-old Mo Maynard cycled through London for 12 hours from 8pm until 8am Friday, raised money for charity, and created a piece of digital art at the same time.

Mo Maynard pausing on one of the Thames bridges during her overnight cycle ride.

As she rode through the streets her cycle computer drew a GPS route in the shape of a cyclist on a bike, something she had meticulously planned in advance.

It was all part of a fundraiser event called STAY:UP for charity Centrepoint which asked participants to stay awake all night to raise awareness for homeless young people who are often forced to stay awake and alert all night on the streets, on night buses, in 24 hour cafes or in other forms of unsafe accommodation.

Cycle London. GPS digital art by Mo Maynard.

Maynard cycled 160km and raised more than £1,500 to tackle youth homelessness. She said it was one of the most challenging things she’s ever done.

“I found it really tough! What surprised me most was the mental challenge. It was almost impossible to keep alert when I was so cold and tired. I had the luxury of warm clothes and food during the night which helped me keep going, but it made me think of those who don’t have these necessities to rely on.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic I started thinking about how less people are carrying cash so if someone on the streets needs help, they are less likely to be able to give them anything. Now with the pandemic, I noticed that homelessness is on the rise. We’re really lucky to have charities like Centrepoint to provide a safety net for vulnerable people,” she said.

Centrepoint says they estimate that 110,000 young people in the UK were homeless, or at risk of homelessness, in 2018/19. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic this year they have already seen the number of people calling their Helpline who are sleeping rough double. The charity runs hostels across the UK supporting homeless young people into a job and a home.