The Heavy Metal Truants, the charity fundraising cycling club co-founded by Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood and former Metal Hammer editor-in-chief Alexander Milas, ride again this year, heading off to Download from London's Alexandra Palace on Tuesday June 6 and arriving on site around lunchtime on Thursday June 8.
The charity's annual 150-mile sponsored bike ride from London to Donington Park has raised over £1,200,000 on the past decade for four charities, Teenage Cancer Trust, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, Childline, and Save The Children. This, the eleventh ride, sees them looking to go one louder, in the finest Spinal Tap tradition!
"It's mind-blowing that this next chapter of the Heavy Metal Truants is set to begin in just a few days," says Milas. "We aren't just beginning our second decade, but also our second million which is all down to the incredible community of fans and industry who've supported and joined us over the years, and I know I speak for a lot of people when I say how proud I to call myself a Heavy Metal Truant. You really can make a difference."
Here we look at five reasons why Heavy Metal Truants are the most awesome metal charity there is:
1. TWO WORDS: IRON MAIDEN
Or two other words: Rod Smallwood. When not leading hordes of truants around the globe on bicycles, Rod also manages a popular beat combo by the name of Iron Maiden. You may have heard of them.
2. THEY DO MAD SHIT
It's not just cycling to Download in like, two and a half days! Over the years specially endorsed virtual participants have undertaken extreme challenges for the cause, from climbing the Matterhorn to cycling 200 miles in a single day. This year a small detachment is cycling to France and back in 24hrs for a sandwich and 16-year old Alice Fuller will be abseiling 300 feet down Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower. Now that's metal!
3. THE PANDEMIC DIDN"T STOP THEM
When they were forced to cancel their physical ride to Download, the Heavy Metal Truants swiftly adapted to a virtual ride, where competitors could undertake various distances on exercise bikes, or out on the road, on their own, in accordance with social distancing. And since we've been allowed to get back together, the virtual option has allowed the HMT family to grow even bigger and spread across the globe.
4. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO YOU ARE, EVERYBODY RIDES
In ten years everyone from Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg to Judas Priest's Andy Sneap have joined the ride over the years, including Saxon singer Biff Byford, Trivium's Paolo Gregoletto, Nick Holmes and Aaron Aedy of Paradise Lost, Pendulum six-stringer Perry Ap Gwynedd, Orange Goblin's Ben Ward and more... And while Brian Blessed didn't cycle with them he did see them off with a rousing and colourful speech at Alexandra Palace one year!
5. THINK METAL ISN'T A COMMUNITY? WE'VE GOT 1.2 MILLION REASONS WHY YOU'RE WRONG
It started from nothing but a question of how to get to Download, and in ten years they've raised this much for the chosen charities. HMT’s little black book of A-List contacts is longer than our arms put together thanks to their connection with Iron Maiden. But they still manage to include the whole roster of artists in various events from curries with the lads from Thunder and Devin Townsend, as well as the Monster Rock Auctions with specially-crafted pieces from Enter Shikari and Bullet For My Valentine, among others. In fact- some little birds told us that something big is coming this year and may feature a life-size Viking Shield originally used in an Amon Amarth video! We can’t say more – we don’t know more - but there will be more!
You can still sign up for the ride and find out more about Heavy Metal Truants here.