TWO Isleworth teenagers left their comfort zones behind them as they overcame the challenge of riding the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46 thanks to the PruGOals programme.

Alex Whelanmensah and Ghalab Harb, both 17 from Isleworth & Syon School, were inspired to ride 46 miles in the world’s biggest cycling festival after joining Prudential’s ‘PruGOals’ campaign, which empowers young people to achieve their goals and helps them develop life skills.

The pair, involved through education charity TeachFirst, took in the iconic sights of the capital on traffic-free roads as they finished with huge crowds cheering them on, a feat they couldn’t quite believe they had pulled off given they only began training at the end of last year.

“It’s amazing to have finished, I felt like I was going to faint. It’s inspired me to take up cycling a bit more,” Ghalab said.

“There were points where I felt like jumping in the river. At the 25-mile point I thought I had finished but I saw there was more to come and I was about to cry.

“I don’t know how I got to the end, it was very mentally and physically challenging but the crowd and the music kept me going and kept my spirits up.”

So far in 2019, the PruGOals programme has worked with 300 16 to 18-year-olds from low-income families to build their confidence and to support them as they move from school to employment.

As part of that, PruGOals has provided bikes, training, equipment, coaching and mentoring to support the students as they prepared for a life changing event in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 46.

For Alex, despite admitting the prospect of cycling 46 miles was almost too daunting to take on, the power of riding with, and competing against, his friends was the key to propelling him to overcome it.

He said: “It was something that I usually wouldn’t do so I decided to try it and test myself. It was also about competition with my friends.

“When someone says 46 miles to you it feels like forever but it was okay, especially when it was downhill and flat. When going up the hills it was much tougher though. Richmond Hill wasn’t that bad but Wimbledon, you just look at it and think ‘yeah I’m not making that’.

“It felt beautiful when I crossed the line, I could finally get off that bike!

“I’ve achieved something big today. It’s not something that most people would do on a typical Sunday morning, a 46-mile bike ride. I’d do another event if it was with my friends again.”

Prudential’s ‘PruGOals’ campaign aims to inspire young people to take on challenges and achieve their goals. The programme helps to prepare young people for the next step in their life, whether university or the world of work. For more information, visit