6:00am in Kabul. A light rain was falling, but Georgian photographer, Mikhail Galustov and I agreed, rain or no rain, let’s go for a bike ride. Our destination? Kabul’s historic Darulamon Palace.
Mountain to Mountain was founded by a mountain-lovin’ girl, in a high altitude mountain town, to benefit mountain communities halfway around the world, by uniting mountain communities at home through our common mountain culture.
It was my desire to start an organization that didn’t take itself too seriously despite the seriousness of the issues facing the communities we aim to help. I love mountain living. I seem to thrive in the thin air. I love trail running, mountain biking, and the crisp mornings that greet me when I leave in search of morning caffeine even in the middle of summer. Could I start an organization that would raise money for other mountain regions by tapping into what makes my own mountain town thrive?
It literally started with the idea for a trail race, Race for the Mountains. It grew into the desire to include mountain sports of all types as a way to raise awareness and money for our projects. This year sees that desire take another step forward as we continue Race for the Mountains, become a non profit beneficiary of two elite mountain bike races and one randonnee ski race, and the creation of Team Mountain to Mountain (Team M2M).
Team M2M is a mostly women’s mountain sport team. Team M2M aims to tap into the energy and drive of mountain athletes to raise awareness and raise funds through racing, networking, group rides, and online fundraising. Firstgiving.com is a fantastic fundraising tool for athletes to set goals and share their story and our mission with friends, family, and colleagues.
Launching at this year’s inaugural Breck Epic mountain bike extravaganza, this ‘mostly women’s team’ will compete alongside some of the best mountain bikers in the country during a 6 day stage race. As race director, Mike McCormick states, “If this course was a person, it would be dressed in black leather and brandishing a whip”. It is a not a race for the faint of heart. But if Mountain to Mountain was founded by the faint of heart we wouldn’t be working in Afghanistan….we’d stick to the safety of Iceland.
I say, mostly women, because there are a few good hearted, and strong legged, men on our Board of Directors, staff, and supporters that want to get involved. So while we target women, we include our male counterparts. In the case of the Breck Epic, estrogen and testosterone will ride together in coed teams united under the Team M2M blue and pink bike jersey. The only difference? The men’s say “domestique” across the back! So we’ll have two, maybe three, teams of Board Members, staff (including yours truly), and racer friends to represent. Each five person team will ride one or two stages of the race, while Advisory Council member, and hardcore racer Heidi Volpe, is competing the entire six day event with her teammate in the 2 man coed team division!
Now, that’s not to say that Team M2M is full of elite athletes only. We encourage women of all levels to get involved. Beginner racers taking part in their first mountain bike or trail running race are as much a part of the team as elite racers striving to come in first. Its about building a community of support through the sports that unite our mountain towns. One of our very own Board Members set up a fundraising page at Firstgiving to raise money for her involvement in this year’s Race for the Mountains in the 5km race. Having dealt with a debilitating case of lupus for two years, she is on the mend and wants to use the race as a training goal and as a way to garner support by her friends as volunteers, pacers, cheerleaders, and fundraisers. She set a lofty goal of $5,000 and looks set to reach it!
Bikers, runners, skiers, rock climbers… come one come all. The only requirement is a strong desire to get muddy, sweat, and support M2M while you do it!
Follow our Team M2M blog at: www.teamm2m.wordpress.com to follow our inaugural launch at the Breck Epic and everything that follows!