Alumni take part in second cycle challenge in memory of Ria

A group of people wearing cycling gear standing in front of the Hazlerigg fountain.

Brain Tumour Research

On 6-7 May 2023, a group of 12 women's football alumnae cycled 145 miles from Loughborough University to Brentwood, Essex in memory of their friend and former teammate, Ria Melvin.

Alumna Ria passed away in 2021 at the age of 25 after a near 3-year battle with a Glioblastoma Grade 4 brain tumour.  

A group of 12 cyclists set out at 8am on Saturday 6 May from Loughborough University where Ria Melvin graduated with a first class BSc Hons degree in Sport and Business Management and rode to Bedford on day one. Ria’s Riders set out again on Sunday 7 May, to pedal the remaining distance to Ria’s final resting place near her family home in Brentwood. 

Participants in the challenge, which has raised almost £2,900 to date, included Ria’s university football teammates, her mum Carol, and sister Kaz. They were followed by a support crew of more teammates and family friends for bike mechanics and vital refreshments. 

Loughborough graduate Sofie Armitage, 28, from Huddersfield, organised this second cycle challenge in memory of Ria. She said:  

“Ria and I were best mates at uni and enjoyed many Wednesday football games, football tours and nights out together. 

“Although Ria’s Riders started out in dry weather, by midday the heavens had opened. Fighting through rain and puddles in the afternoon really did test our resilience! There were a few skids here and there and we got absolutely soaked, but we made it to Bedford around 5.30pm to hang up our clothes and dry off before hitting the road again on Sunday. 

Thankfully we woke up to some blue sky and the sun made an appearance.  

“A couple of falls, lots of banter, a puncture and a loose chain later, as well as lots of memories of Ria exchanged, we arrived at Herongate Wood Cemetery, Ria’s place of rest. We were applauded by more of Ria’s friends and family and spent some time with Ria to let her know about our antics over the two days. I’m sure she would be laughing out loud at us! 

“It’s great to all come together once a year to remember Ria and catch up on the good times we shared.” 

Last year Ria’s grieving family launched Raising4Ria, a Fundraising Group under the umbrella of Brain Tumour Research, which has raised more than £107,500 to date. 

Kaz Melvin said:  

“Mum, Dad and I are so grateful to Ria’s university friends for now making this charity bike ride an annual event for Raising4Ria. We are so moved that they want to keep Ria’s memory alive and raise money for Brain Tumour Research at the same time. Ria would have been laughing at us doing this crazy challenge again, but also very touched as she loved cycling and her time at Loughborough University.” 

Find out more about Raising4Ria