Sunday, January 2, 2011

For 2011... Riding for something more

Cycling is largely an individual endeavor.  We often ride in groups but the goals we set are ones that we typically achieve by ourselves.  Some achievements are small (fixing your first flat) and some are much larger (completing your first century ride).  We don't often get the chance to ride for something more than our own sense of personal achievement.

My plans to participate in the Etape were initially motivated by my desire to test myself and to see if I could finish just a single mountain stage of the Tour de France.  But while thinking about this little adventure, I thought it would mean so much more if I could make this ride bigger than just a cycling challenge.

Working in collaboration with the World Bicycle Relief and the Central Asia Institute, I will be making this specific trip a charity ride.  All the expenses will be covered by yours truly... but any donations that I collect through this blog (until the completion of the Etape) will be sent to one of these two charities.

Imagine you were a farmer and you had produce that you grew on your farm. But you couldn't bring that to the local market because the market is 10 miles away and you had no means of efficiently transporting 30 pounds of produce.  A bicycle could help with that problem.  Or imagine you were a student who had to walk 8 miles a day to get to school?  What if a bike could help you get to school in 45 minutes instead of 3 hours?  Over equal units of time, a person on a bicycle can cover 4 times the distance or carry over 5 times the weight of a person on foot.  The World Bicycle Relief is a charity that recognizes that mobility is one of the greatest assets an individual can have and that bicycles are one of the cheapest and most environmentally friendly ways to address this issue.  Over the past 5 years, they have built and donated over 70,000 bicycles to communities in Africa.  Their work has been so effective that they were just recently named as one of the top 25 best philanthropies by Barrons!  $134 funds a bike (which is less than many spend on a fancy dinner).

Many of you have read "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.  If you haven't, I highly recommend it.  It is a phenomenal story about the efforts of a single individual to build schools in remote locations of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where many of the existing schools had been funded and taught by the Taliban and other extremist groups.  The Central Asia Institute, which was founded by Greg Mortenson, is dedicated to building community-based education and literacy programs in this region and to specifically target the education of girls who were discouraged from pursuing an education in the Taliban-backed madrasahs.  To date, the Central Asia Institute has built 131 schools and educated 58,000 students (44,000 girls).  Again, I highly recommend that you read the book. Donations for the Central Asia Institute have been closed. Please see this entry for the reasons. And please donate for the World Bicycle Relief.

As many of you have noticed, I have installed widgets on the right side of this blog and you will be able to specify a donation to either of these two charities.  Even a little bit is helpful so I thank you in advance.

I'm excited about this because I think it would be really amazing to make this trip more than just about finishing the Etape.  It could be something that could actually make a difference in a few lives out there.  

Ride a bike, change a life.  How cool is that?

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with the Etape, you will make it. Just take it steady from the off, no heroics early on and you will be fine.
    I did the whole Tour route in 2006 and am on course for the same this year for WBR at the age of 70.
    Will watch your progress.