Author Archives: Shannon Galpin

Global Solidarity Ride Pedals into 19 countries

We are still in the midst of tallying numbers and sifting through photos and stories but in the end we had over 70 rides in 19 countries taking part this past weekend.  Individual rides Belgium and Norway, a critical mass ride in Poland, and group rides large and small across the world.  There was an incredible community and fundraising ride in Warragul, Australia that challenged the riders to combine their mileage to cover the 11,230 miles it took to get from Warragul to Kabul.  They raised several thousand dollars with a movie screening/fundraising night, and a community effort of riding that blew us away.   We even had 4 time world Ironman champion, Chrissie Wellington, rocking the Afghan jersey and dedicating her ride to the Global Solidarity Ride, during the last day of racing the Haute Route Alps, arguably the toughest sportive.  

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Rides took place around the world in Brazil, Scotland, India, British Colombia, Philippines, Yangon, China, England, Taiwan, Japan, Poland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Norway, Belgium, Italy, across the US in cities like; LA, Brooklyn, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Belfast, Seattle, Austin, Denver, Breckenridge, Durango, Saratoga Springs, Boulder, Ojai, Telluride, Denton, Plano, Reno, Manhattan, Willard, Roseville, Bend, San Diego, Medina, Los Altos, Bellow Falls, Aspen, Portland, Thousand Oakes, and in Afghanistan.  Yup, we definitely missed more than a few cities in this list, and we’ll work to sift through the posts, tweets, emails, and instagrams to put it all together… but its been mind-blowing to see all of your rides!  Thank you!!  

We look forward to sharing more photos and stories, and we will keep you all updated on the progress and  plans with the Afghan women’s cycling program, and the upcoming documentary Afghan Cycles that is documenting these women and the others learning to ride in Afghanistan.  They inspire us daily and we know now that they inspire you.  We will create a book of photos from all of your rides to share with the girls on our next visit.  

Keep sending in photos and stories to info@mountain2mountain and stay tuned for more information and updates by following Mountain2Mountain and Global Solidarity Ride on Facebook.  

Liv Launches Video with Ambassador Shannon Galpin

Today Liv announced their partnership with our founder, as their newest global ambassador and their sponsorship as a presenting sponsor of the upcoming documentary, Afghan Cycles.  Today they launched their latest brand video with our founder, Shannon Galpin.  The video highlights her work in Afghanistan with the women’s cycling team and gives a sneak peek of the documentary Afghan Cycles that is still in production.  Never seen footage of the women riding in Afghanistan along with Shannon telling the story of how she became the first person to mountain bike in Afghanistan as a way to explore the country and to challenge the gender barriers that prevented Afghan girls from riding bikes.  Now we see the first generation of girls and young women riding bikes as part of the women’s national cycling team and are watching a revolution unfold in real time as other young girls are learning to ride for the first time.

 

Liv Beyond – Shannon Galpin as Liv Ambassador from LET MEDIA on Vimeo.

 

Inspired?  Get involved this Saturday, August 30th as part of the Global Solidarity Ride.  Over 60 bike rides in 13 countries creates a global movement on two wheels in support of the Afghan women who dare to ride.  You can join one of the existing rides listed here, create your own, or simply dedicate your bike ride on Saturday to the Afghan girls.  Send us photos, tell us where you rode, and instagram or tweet with #solidarityride2014.  You can join the conversation on Facebook here.  You can support this work and donate at www.mountain2mountain.org/donate

#pedalarevolution

Global Solidarity Ride

Its pretty amazing to see rides coming in every day.  I’ll keep this updated but for now – here are the lists, and where applicable links to existing rides.  If there is no link, its not a public event, or we haven’t received the details.  If you have more details, the best way is to share is to set up a simple Facebook event!  We’ll keep this page updated.  You still have time to take part and if you ride, wherever you ride, we would love photos!!  Thanks for being part of this inaugural event to support the women that dare to ride!   August 30th – we ride!

Please email us ride photos and share stories at info@mountain2mountain.org after the event and we’ll be sharing the global outreach!

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#pedalarevolution

#solidarityride2014

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Girls on Bikes – A Revolution on Two Wheels in Real Time

We got some amazing photos from Kabul this week.  These girls are learning to ride bikes in Kabul.  They are not part of the national cycling team, or even aware of it at the time they sent us the photos.  These girls simply started this up on their own with the help of a young Afghan woman working to establish a Girl Up branch in Kabul.  So proud to see these young women taking back the streets, and their rights,  on bikes and breaking the gender barriers that have prevented girls from riding in the past.  THIS is locally led, sustainable change, that shows the progress of women’s rights as women are leading the charge and doing it on two wheels.

We’ll be riding with these girls on August 30th as part of the Global Solidarity Ride – as riders around the world ride in solidarity with the Afghan women who dare to ride, we’ll see Afghan women like these riding too.  Its a revolution at its core, and we’re humbled and proud to support girls like these and cheer them on!!

#pedalarevolution

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Photos by Fatima Haidary

Global Solidarity Ride Launches

August 30th, we pedal a revolution!  Bikers, cyclists, commuters, and striders will take to their wheels in solidarity with the Afghan women that dare to ride, and in remembrance of the women that dared to ride before and in doing so, paved the way for independent mobility and freedom for women around the world.

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Help Send the Afghan Women to the Asian Games

So its official.  The Afghan National Women’s team will go to the Asian Games in South Korea this September!  This will be the first time that an Afghan woman has competed in cycling in such a world class event.

Backstory: Although the mens and women’s teams were invited to the Games, which only occur every four years, the Afghan Olympic Committee was not going to send any members of the men’s or women’s team to the Games because they felt they wouldn’t be able to compete on the world stage and represent Afghanistan in a positive light.  I met with the President of the Afghan Federation, Fahim Hashimy two weeks ago in Kabul, and discussed the progress of the women’s team and the positive story of women’s rights and sports development that they represent is stronger than their racing ability.  The men’s team is relatively strong for the region and both teams can learn a lot and the opportunity will be integral to their development.

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Afghan Team Heads to Asia Cycling Championship

The Afghan Women’s National Team rolled out today in Kabul for their long journey to Astana, Kazakhstan for the Asia Cycling Championship.

Mountain2Mountain secured funding to pay for the visas, passports, travel, lodging, and racing fees for 4 racers, Coach Sediqe, and an assistant.  Thanks in large part to the current President of the Afghan Olympic Committee who we petitioned for support, we were able to financially support their inclusion in this important international competition.

They will be racing on their new Liv/giant composite racing frames, helmets, and jerseys.  We are excited to see the team represent Afghanistan  in this major cycling competition.

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Support Afghan Women’s Cycling with our Afghan Inspired Cycling Kits

Strength in Numbers just got real.

 

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Thanks to the generosity of Primal Wear, and the beautiful bike mandala created by April Lemly, we are excited to share Strength in Number’s newest look with an Afghan inspired twist.  These are the jerseys that the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team will be rockin in their future international races.  We are so proud of these women and hope that the jerseys unite the team and the nation behind the women that are daring to ride – changing the very culture of women and cycling one pedal stroke at a time.

We are excited to announce the creation of the 2014 Strength in Numbers replica cycling kits will help support our continued work with the women’s national team development.

Pre sales of these kits are available as of today and delivery will be early July – in time to rock the kits for the upcoming Global Solidarity Ride on August 30th with the Afghan women and the global cycling community that is inspired by their courage on two wheels.

How to get yours?  You email info@mountain2mountain.org with your order.  We’ll direct you to make the donation and confirm your mailing address.  July 5th we’ll package up the orders and mail out to you.  In exchange we ask that you send us a photo of you rocking the jersey and that you commit to riding your bike, creating a group ride, or joining an existing ride (stay tuned for details) on August 30th to show your commitment to the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team and the spread of the women’s cycling revolution in Afghanistan and beyond.

The only change on the replica kits will be that the Afghanistan on the back of the jerseys and jackets will say ‘Strength in Numbers’ and a few more logos will be added to the back pockets and the purple Liv logo on the shorts will be removed for the replica shorts.  All three pieces are available in all sizes for men and women, but those of you that tried to get sizes last year and we were already sold out, this is your chance with a pre-order to get exactly what you want!  Get yours now and rock it all year in support of the women that dare to ride!

Pricing = $110 for each jacket, $100 for jerseys and $95 for the shorts – this includes all US shipping.  Overseas orders may have extra shipping charges.  Want one?  Email info@mountain2mountain.org to place our order and learn how to donate.

Want more information on the Global Solidarity Ride and our work with the women’s team?  Check out our previous blogs linked to both, and stay tuned for much more information in the month ahead.  #pedalarevolution

 

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Want to help support the team and their development?  You can donate directly at www.mountain2mountain.org/donation

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For the Love of a Bike

Do you remember your first bike?  Odds are, you remember distinctly the color, the shape of the seat, it may have even had a name.  Mine was a  bright blue Schwinn.  It was stolen off my front porch a few months later and I was heartbroken.  My second was pink with a banana seat.  I was careful not to leave it on the front porch and it was my faithful friend until junior high when I got my first steel blue ten speed.  Funny how bikes mark themselves indelibly on your brain?

This week in Afghanistan, I had the pleasure of giving 12 girls in Kabul their first bike.

First up was a visit to bazaar in the old part of Kabul to purchase some bikes that the girls could ride easily and that wouldn’t stand out – more than a girl riding a bike already does in a country that has never allowed females to ride bikes.

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We pick up a fleet of the same bike in different colors.  We had the bike mechanic that worked with us to build up the donated Liv/giant racing bikes check them over and make sure everything was in working order.  Delivered them to Coach’s house and asked the girls to meet up for a team meeting.

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We handed out the bikes to huge smiles and laughter.  The girls have loved riding the new racing bikes and training, but none of them have ever had their own bike.  Each girl has assured us that they have a male family member that have agreed to ride with them as an escort, most cases a brother, but also a father and a step-son.  These girls are among the first Afghan girls to be riding bikes in Kabul socially.  Its the start of a revolution.  Girls on bikes.  Breaking the last big gender taboo.  We couldn’t be prouder.  Ride on ladies.

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Bikes Not Burqas

“It’s time to stop referring to Afghan women as weak, as helpless.  Its time to refer to Afghan women as strong, catalysts for change.  How can we expect Afghan women to fight if we continue to label them as victims?” 

I said these words at my first TEDx talk two years ago – 9 months before I first met the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team.  I had been working in Afghanistan and was enraged by the way we continue to look at Afghan women, and women like them around the world, as helpless victims that are in need of the West’s support.  These are not victims, although they may be victimized.  These are women of strength and resiliency that need tools, encouragements, and the outlets to use their voice.  2  1/2 years later, the young women I work with in Afghanistan show me every day they are not helpless, they are brave, strong, and fearless.  They simply need tools.  Or in this case, bikes.

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The young women of the Afghan National Cycling Team, and the young women around Afghanistan that are learning to ride bikes for the first time in their country’s history, did not grow up under a burqa.  They matured in the post Taliban decade.  They have taken advantage of opportunities in education, art, sport, and politics.  Many were refugees in Iran and Pakistan and returned here in 2002 and 2003 with their families.  Some stayed here and endured the Taliban’s regime.  Most are in their final years of high school or early years of university, a couple are married.  All are embracing the feeling of freedom that comes on two wheels.

Coming back from Afghanistan yesterday, I was looking back on the past three weeks of training with the team.  Over the past year and half we have been working together, they have matured as cyclists, raced outside of their country, and mentor and recruit new riders nearly every training session. This trip I delivered over 50 racing and mountain bikes from Liv/giant, along with brand new helmets, gear, clothing, along with donated clothing, helmets, and equipment for the men’s team.  We trained in Kabul over several days in various locations, working on fitness and racing tactics ahead of their upcoming invitation to compete at the Asia Cycling Championships in Astana in late May.   I brought the team to the high mountains of Bamiyan for a training weekend on empty, newly paved roads.  I met, and rode with, with the young women that are started to ride bikes themselves to and from the women’s college, thanks to one young woman, Zahra, who learned to ride a bike as a refugee in Iran and is teaching young women to ride as a means of independence.

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These women are the generation of Afghan women that are embracing new experiences, opportunities, without a specific intent of being revolutionary.   They know what they are doing is controversial, but they believe it is their right, that they deserve the same access and opportunities as men, and riding a bike should not be forbidden because of their gender.

I believe sport is a natural gateway to social change.  As these women race and bring national pride to themselves, their families, and to Afghanistan, they are opening the door to allowing girls to ride bikes socially, as transportation.  Increasing access to school or work, protecting their safety, and improving their health.  Creating social justice and gender equality on two wheels.

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This trip I went one step beyond the team’s support.  I spent a morning at the old bazaar to buy bikes for each of the girls to keep at home.  Their first ever bike.  Do you remember your first bike?  The joy and the freedom you felt riding it?  The girls all have a male family member willing to ride with them, but step by step, these women will start to ride their bikes as transportation in Kabul.  The first Afghan women to ever do so.  Crossing the bridge from sport to social independence.

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Every day I worry about these young women.  Not just on the bike, but off.  They are on the front line in a gender and cultural war and yet, if they are willing to ride, to go to school, and to believe in a brighter future, I will do everything I can to support them.  On and off the bike.  Will you?  The support of the team has been minimal and it’s time to step up.  It’s time to support the women that are changing the future of their country one pedal stroke at a time.  We need to get them a minibus and bike rack to safely travel to and from training.  We need to support with stipends the national team so that they don’t have to quit the team to help support their families.  We need to support their racing and travel.  We need to pay for coaching training to build the internal infrastructure for the team to grow and flourish and compete ahead of the 2020 Olympics and future Asia Games.  We also need to continue to support the mens’ team so that they will mentor and support the women’s team and build both teams under the cycling federation as brothers and sisters.

Please help these women pedal a revolution.  Believe that social change can occur one pedal stroke at a time.  Know that these women, and women like them, are the future and their fearlessness needs our support.  Tashakur.

Donate today. www.mountain2mountain.org/donation 

 

photo credits:

Top three – Deni Bechard

Bottom two – Shannon Galpin

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