In an extraordinary display of global solidarity, tens of thousands of cyclists around the world united today in a collective call to free the 136 hostages held in Gaza, 100 days after their capture in the 7 October attacks.
The central event took place at the Tel Aviv Velodrome, where 136 cyclists, each with photos of one of the hostages, encircled the stadium in a powerful and emotional plea for their release. The most striking and emotional scene was Erez Kalderon leading the peloton of riders with his kidnapped father’s picture in front of his bike. It was a heartfelt moment.
The initiative, spearheaded by the professional cycling team Israel – Premier Tech, in collaboration with rhe Hostage and Missing Families Forum, saw solidarity for the hostages extend beyond borders.
Mass cycling events unfolded simultaneously in at least 40 cities across the globe, with thousands more riders making their own solidarity rides by tying a yellow ribbon to their bikes.
In Tel Aviv, the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome saw 136 riders ride the track, including 12-year-old Erez Kalderon, who was captured as a hostage on 7 October along with his sister Sahar and father Ofer, and released with his sister after 51 days in captivity; and cyclist Avida Bachar, who lost a leg in the 7 October attack when his wife and son were killed, and completed the route in a wheelchair.
Photo: Avida Bachar takes part (Picture: Ronen Topelberg)
Speaking on behalf of the hostage families, Hadas Kalderon said: “100 days of pain, anxiety, longing, disappointment, grief, and abandonment. 100 days, and the hostages are still in Gaza. 100 days of hell. Ofer Kalderon, unique and special, is still there in hell. I am here to remind – he is alive! Full of hope, waiting, expecting, relying on us to rescue him. I commit to you here and now, Ofer, as I am committed to your son Erez Kalderon that he would ride bicycles with this wonderful group, I also commit to you that we are here and we will not give up until you are back with us, wearing a helmet and riding again, including in the Tour de France.”
Sahar Kalderon, 16, who was released from Hamas captivity after 51 days along with her brother Erez Kalderon, said: “Now I am trying to rebuild my life, but how can I build anything and keep going when my father is missing, when he is still facing horrors? 100 days of terrible longing, thoughts that never stop entering my mind. I want my father back and all the hostages who are waiting to be rescued. They deserve to come back.”
Photo: Former IPT rider Guy Niv and Israeli MTB star Noga Korem meet 12-year-old Erez Kalderon, who spent 51 days in captivity (Picture: Ronen Topelberg)
Speaking to the event in a video message from Spain where IPT is on training camp, team owner Sylvan Adams said: “We’ve just finished our ride in solidarity with our 136 hostages, marking their 100th day in captivity, which breaks our heart, thinking about their fate and worried about how they are holding up, physically and emotionally. We are thinking of you. I personally think about you every single day, about our hostages, about you, the families. In fact, I think about you almost every single hour.
“We have riders today from six continents, as far away as Hong Kong, Sydney, and Melbourne; in Buenos Aires, in São Paulo, in Miami and Los Angeles, in Capetown, in London, in Paris, here in Spain, of course, to demand that our hostages be freed. To demand that the Red Cross gain access to our people, and learn how they are coping, as well as to provide medical care to our 136 citizens that are cruelly being held in Gaza. The 136 families, each of you has a rider representing and riding for your loved one in captivity today at the National Velodrome in Tel Aviv, as part of this international cycling ride in solidarity with the hostages. We’re all riding with a yellow ribbon attached to our bikes today, as brothers and sisters, all together. Bring them home now! Am Yisrael Chai.”
Avida Bachar, who lost a leg in the 7 October attack when his wife and son were killed, and completed the route in a wheelchair, said: “This event warms the heart and provides hope for the future. To continue living, riding, to keep going – it’s inspiring.”
Photo: the view inside the Sylvan Adams National Velodrome (Picture: Ronen Topelberg)
Across the world, thousands of individual riders took to the streets and bike routes, uploading photos of their rides with the hashtag #RideToBringThemHomeNow.
Large events were held in major cities around the world including Sydney and Melbourne in Australia; Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium; Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil; Santiago in Chile; Bogota in Colombia; San José in Costa Rica; Paris in France; Milan in Italy; Amsterdam, The Hague, Friesland, and Groningen in the Netherlands; Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Miami in the USA, London, and Barcelona.