Category Archives: Afghanistan Women’s Cycling Team

No Bike Left Behind

Today 53 racing and mountain bikes showed up in a semi truck.  Thanks to the ongoing endless winter in the mountains of Colorado that meant the driver wouldn’t come down the hill to  my apartment and hilarious one-woman convoy in my Element ensued – 4 bike boxes at a time into my landlord’s garage.  Its only a temporary holding space, in two days they fly with me to Kabul, Afghanistan.


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Thanks to the incredible generosity of our partner Liv/giant – we have bikes, gear, clothing, tires, and helmets.  Along with an insane amount of donated cycling gear that has been accumulating in my home, this gear drive makes the last one look like a cake walk.  United has confirmed they will allow me show up at the passenger drop off with a 60 plus boxes, but they will not waive the extra baggage fees. We need to crowdsource the funding to get these delivered with us to Afghanistan so we can show the world that progress is still ongoing in Afghanistan, that women are breaking gender barriers amidst the turmoil of the elections, and we can pedal a revolution together!
Several years ago when I first started looking at the controversy of women and girls riding bikes this was the only image you would see of women on bikes.


I would ride in various areas of the country and ask about the possibility of Afghan women riding.  The answer was always, ‘no’.  Cylcing is just not acceptable for women, and according to Human Rights Watch researcher, Heather Barr, its one step above the morality crimes that women are jailed for.  More women drive than ride bikes in Afghanistan.  Its THAT controversial.


But these women are THAT brave.  Today, because of Coach Seddiq and a handful of courageous young women, you have women riding as part of the Afghan National Cycling Team, representing their country in races in Pakistan, India, and with your help – in the upcoming Asia Cycling Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan.


I go back on Monday to deliver the bikes, gear, clothing with the goal of not just continuing to support the national team, but to start the first ever women’s mountain bike team and make plans for a future women’s bike race with the cycling federation.  This is truly a team effort and we need your help to support the team.  You can donate any amount, big or small to and you’ll be part of this two wheeled revolution!

Thank you and please, donate, spread the word, share this blog, and together we can show the world what women are capable of!

Gear Drive for the Cycling Teams of Afghanistan from LET MEDIA on Vimeo.

Racing Bikes, Gear and Asia Games – Strength in Numbers Update

Thanks to the generosity of Liv/giant, we are taking over approximately 50 brand new bikes for the women’s cycling movement in Afghanistan.  Thanks to the support of the Afghan Cycling Federation and the Afghan Olympic Committee, we are starting two new teams, one road and one mountain bike for women outside of Kabul.

We also have boxes of donated clothing and cycling gear to distribute, much like last year’s gear drive we are going to be arriving in Kabul full loaded.  We need YOUR help to get it all there!  You can donate through our website at  to help get the two new teams started and help the women of Afghanistan pedal a revolution.

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In addition, the Afghan National Women’s team has been invited to participate in the Asia Cycling Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in late May.  We are committed to supporting the team in international racing opportunities like this so that they have the opportunities to race against their regional counterparts, and represent their country, while building skills and experience to share with the young women just learning to ride!  We need to raise $7,000 to get the team there.   This is where our strength in numbers steps up to the plate to support these revolutionary women breaking barriers and inspiring other women in Afghanistan and beyond!

This is our next step with Strength in Numbers for the Afghan women, and one that we hope you will help support!!


Gear Drive for the Cycling Teams of Afghanistan from LET MEDIA on Vimeo.


Global Solidarity Ride – Strength in Numbers

On Women’s International Day, we are excited to announce our global ride in support of the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team and the new teams starting across Afghanistan.  In a country where women have not been allowed to ride bikes, the first women to break these barriers are learning to ride, and racing outside of Afghanistan.

This year, men and women around the world will ride in solidarity with these amazing women, to show them that they are not breaking these barriers in a bubble, that the world sees them.  August 30th, we ask communities around the world to get on their bikes and ride.  Our partners, Liv/giant and Osprey Packs will lead the charge with their global network, and we will be setting up a page to collect your photos and your stories of support for the women in Afghanistan.

Mark your calendars now and plan to ride August 30th.  Road, mountain, downhill, or track – if its got two wheels we want you pedaling together in solidarity!   If you are interested in creating a community ride email us at  In the meantime, stay tuned for details and rides in your area!  #solidarityride2014

IMG_9072 IMG_5280 Photo credit Mariam Alimi (39)

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100 Bikes by Christmas – Pedal a Revolution for Afghan Women


This holiday season, pedal a revolution by supporting Mountain 2 Mountain‘s work with the women who dare to ride as part of the Afghan Cycling Team. These women are the first women to ride bikes in Afghanistan, breaking one of the last taboos in the country for women, and pedaling a two-wheeled revolution for social justice.

You can help directly as we continue to support the cycling movement in Afghanistan with the Afghan Women’s National Team and the cycling federation in Kabul. This spring, we are starting the first women’s mountain bike team and road biking team in Bamiyan – a province in central Afghanistan, high in the Hindu Kush.

We need your help to pedal a revolution! From now until Christmas, we have set a goal of donating 100 bikes to the women’s cycling program and the teams we are fostering. We are also creating a slush fund for future regional racing and team development.

$100 = 1 bike

Couldn’t be simpler! Just go to:

Want to gift a bike as a present? Email us at info@mountain2mountain.organd we’ll arrange for a pdf certificate to be emailed to you to print and give to your friends and family for the holidays.

You can also donate any amount to go into a fund to support the ongoing costs of the national team and the expansion of women’s cycling movement, including; renting a minivan and driver to get the Kabul team safely to and from training grounds outside of Kabul, travel costs for regional racing, entry fees, supplemental food, team mechanic, coaching clinics, cycling equipment and clothing, and more!

Want to learn more? You can visit or watch our founder’s TEDx talk about a Two Wheeled Revolution!


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Women’s Cycling Begins to Spread through Afghanistan – Help Pedal a Revolution

The work continues with the Kabul based women’s cycling team in Afghanistan as part of our Strength in Numbers program.  I spent a couple days training with the coach and the national team outside of Kabul, discussing what we could do to continue to support the growth of the team and its aspirations for 2014.   The day we went out to train, there were six new girls, all students at universities in Kabul, that were riding.  Many had just started a few months ago, and were still unsteady on two wheels.   Mariam and Nazifa, members of the national team, and subjects in the upcoming documentary, Afghan Cycles, rode laps while the newer members got situated.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (33)

Two days earlier, I had a meeting with a young woman, Zahra, from Bamiyan province, a mountainous region in central Afghanistan.  Known best for the historic Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban, and in more recent times for the annual ski race they hold.  Tourism and a more progressive attitude towards women, makes Bamiyan a perfect place to build cycling for Afghan women.   Zahra came to me to create a road and mountain bike team in the province, and after we discussed with the Olympic Federation and the Cycling Federation, we agreed to support the formation of a new women’s cycling team.

This marks the official spread of cycling outside of the Kabul-bubble.   So much happens in Kabul, as an urban center, the capital city, and the hub of all international aid in Afghanistan, that never spreads much beyond.   Bringing biking to Bamiyan while continuing to support the national team and the young women in Kabul means that we can see the power of two wheels spreading.   These women are daring to ride their bikes, in the face of a culture that has never allowed women to ride.

We are putting together a second gear drive to support these amazing women and help to spread cycling through the country.  We need road and mountain bikes, helmets, and women’s cycling clothing.  This will be distributed in the spring to support the formation of the first women’s cycling team in Bamiyan.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (39)

Secondly, we need funding and sponsorship dollars.  Like any sports team, the women’s team cannot cannot function and grow without funding.  These women are part of Strength in Numbers, and we all believe that our strength IS in our numbers and that together these women will help pedal a revolution.


1.  We need to get the gear over, much like we did last spring with our initial gear drive for the national mens and women’s team.

2. We need to hire a driver and minibus for the national team to use in Kabul so that they can safely get back and forth to training outside of Kabul.

3. We need to help support both the men’s and the women’s teams for racing outside of Afghanistan.  They have many invitations from countries like Dubai, Pakistan, India, and even Thailand, to join international races, but they do not have the funding to go and take part.  Racing internationally not only builds their skills, but also provides key regional support of the burgeoning cycling movement in Afghanistan.  It also builds national pride in Afghan cyclists that take part, which helps build the acceptance of cycling overall, and especially of the women that take part.

You can help by donating today to help us support the women that are pedaling a revolution in Afghanistan, one pedal stroke at a time.  Any amount helps!

$5,000 would cover one team’s costs to travel to a regional race.  $1200 would cover a minibus driver for one year.   $500 would cover airfare and lodging for one team member to race regionally.   $200 will help cover one bike box, stuffed with cycling gear to Afghanistan for the newly formed Bamiyan team.   $100 would help cover transportation costs for hiring a mini truck to haul the bikes and girls to safe training grounds outside of Kabul.  $50 would help sponsor one cycling kit for each woman.   $30 would cover petrol costs for one training ride.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (42)

You can donate bikes and cycling gear by shipping to Mountain2Mountain c/o Shannon Galpin:  400 N Park Street – PO Box 7399, PMB 284, Breckenridge, CO 80424.  You can visit  or email us at for more information.

Thank you for your continued support for these women who are breaking the last taboo in Afghanistan and are doing it fearlessly and on two wheels!  If you want more information on the power of the bike, Strength in Numbers, and why we believe in the power of two wheels, you can watch our founders’ TEDx talk here from June 2013, A Two Wheeled Revolution.


A Lesson in Shifting – Training with Afghan Cycling Team

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (39)

The wind in your face.

Two wheels spinning underneath you.

An open road widening ahead, smooth, empty.

Riding a bike is like no other feeling… the very action symbolizes freedom of movement.

Today, I rode again with the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team, as we continue to support these fabulous young women that dare to ride.  The girls meet weekly under the frenetic whistle blowing of Coach Seddiq to ride their bikes and learn to race.

I was back to check in with the girls, do a little training and coaching, and make plans for future support and racing.

Eleven girls came out to ride.  Only three had I met before, Mariam, Nazifa, and Massouma had all been part of the Afghan Cycles film project we are working on with filmmaker Sarah Menzies of Let Media.  Sadaf and Farzana were with their families and couldn’t make it.  I kissed them each three times on the cheek and gave each a squeeze.  Then I turned to face the rest of the girls assembled.  Four were with the American University, one more is studying German at the Goethe Institute.  Some had ridden bikes since they were young, growing up in Iran, before their families returned to Afghanistan when they were teenagers.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (37)

Others literally learned to ride a few months ago.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (23)

We unloaded the bikes and lined up, while Coach introduced me, and we split the group into the girls that were comfortable riding and those that were still learning.   I had planned some hill repeat drills on the smooth road that led up to the mountain, to build strength and stamina. We warmed up running long laps at an easy pace, and it was soon apparent that there was something more important than hill repeats.

We headed back to Coach and Najibullah, and sat the girls down for a lesson in shifting.  The irony was not lost on me,  a singlespeed rider that doesn’t use gears on my own bikes teaching Afghan girls to shift.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (17)

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (20)

Each bike is radically different in where the shifters are located, and which way they work, so I told the girls that each time they ride, they need to work their warm ups as shifting practice.  All the way up and all the way down… this is made more difficult than it should be thanks to the lack of bike maintenance.  I thought my bike maintenance skills are bad, comments from those that know me best, but I don’t have a derailleur.  Chains skipped, one locked in place, and the one I was riding starting making loud clicking noises.  No wonder the girls didn’t shift!

So lesson number two.  BIke maintenance.  I told Coach, if we were going to bring over more bikes they needed to be maintained every week. I would reach out to Pedro’s for oil, etc. but we would need to do some maintenance clinics next visit and perhaps develop a position designated team mechanic that could maintain the mens and women’s team bikes.

We discussed the next steps of supporting the teams, both the men’s and women’s, in terms of equipment, coaching, and funding.  Both teams need funding so that they can accept the invitations from other countries to come race, and even to transport the teams to safe training areas.  There is no racing in Afghanistan, but when offers come to race in Pakistan, India, and the upcoming Asia Games, they need to be able to accept so that their experience is built.  Step by step building a viable team that is interacting with their regional counterparts and gaining experience and showcasing Afghanistan’s progress.  Mountain2Mountain is beyond thrilled to support them and build support throughout Afghanistan for women’s cycling.

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Bamiyan Women’s Bike Team to Launch 2014.


4 years ago exactly, I rode my mountain bike throughout Panjshir and on the hills that surround Kabul.  It was one part experiment and one part adventure.  In a country that doesn’t allow its women to ride bikes, I wanted to challenge the gender barrier as a foreign woman and test the reactions.  I also wanted to experience a country known mostly for  war, poverty, and oppression on two wheels, surrounded by the beauty of the Panjshir mountains and the kindness of the people I encountered, and share a different view of Afghanistan back home.

It wasn’t until three years later that I found women who rode.  I met Coach Seddiq in late 2012,  the head of the Afghan bicycing federation who was coaching not only the boys but also started a women’s team.  My heart soared and we immediately got to work to support with equipment, gear, and training.  NBC Nightly News covered the story and we collected an enormous amount of gear along with 5 carbon racing bikes from Liv/giant.

This spring, we delivered the gear, and introduced a film crew from Let Media to the team.  Filmmaker Sarah Menzies, came to make a film about the women’s national team, the first women to ride and race.  Afghan Cycles launches in 2014 and it couldn’t be more fitting as the next steps with women’s cycling launch.



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Women, Bikes, and Afghanistan

We need your help to pedal a revolution!

As we return to Afghanistan to continue our work with the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team we are looking to raise the funds we need to pull off the trip by crowdsourcing Kickstarter style.  Our work over the past 5 years has always depended upon the generosity of the average person, donating small and large amounts to support the work we do and follow along on the journey as it unfolds.

In two weeks we leave, and we are looking to rally the masses to support the upcoming trip.  We have two weeks to raise $5,000 and we need everyone’s help, whatever that looks like to you.

Last spring we delivered our first round of gear for the mens and women’s national teams and started production on the film, Afghan Cycles with Let Media.  Afghan Cycles documents the story of the Afghan women that dare to ride which will premiere in 2014 at film festivals around the world.  You can see a glimpse of the that trip and our first steps with the team, which we will be continuing this trip.

Unfamiliar with the work we do, and why we do it?  Check out the TEDx talk by our founder, and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Shannon Galpin about the bike as a vehicle of social change and how we are pedaling a two-wheeled revolution.

It truly takes a village – and we are grateful to everyone that has continued to support the work we do, and to those of you that are just joining us, we look forward to bringing you along on the journey ahead as we continue our next steps with your help!  A revolution doesn’t happen in a bubble, it takes hundreds of people willing to step up and join the movement!  Please join us to keep us rolling forward!

You can ensure the success of this upcoming trip by supporting our work and the women that dare to ride by donating today!!  We’ll update on Facebook daily as we get closer to reaching our goals!  It has been our biggest honor to work with the women and girls in Afghanistan, and it wouldn’t have been possible without individuals donating in belief that change is possible and that women around the world deserve a voice.   Thank you.

You can learn more about the work we do by visiting our website:

Gear Drive, Bikes, Women, and Afghanistan

Thanks to the talents of Sarah Menzies of Let Media, we had a filmmaker on hand for our most recent trip to Afghanistan.  She generously gave her time and skills to edit a behind the scenes peek at the gear drive to support the men’s and women’s cycling teams of Afghanistan, while she was in Kabul to start production on Afghan Cycles, a film about the women’s national cycling team.  We are so excited to share this with the Mountain2Mountain community who helped make this happen, and hope you’ll share it with your community and networks to help us rally more support for these incredible cyclists as we rally for a second round of gear donation this fall, and are raising money to rent a minibus and driver so that the women’s team has safer transportation to and from training rides on the outskirts of Kabul.  We hope you’ll be inspired by the women that dare to ride and be part of our next steps with the teams this fall.

We need your help to get the second round of bikes and gear over to Afghanistan this fall in support of the women’s national team.  Please donate today and help us rally the funding we need to continue to support the women that are changing the face of women in sport!

In addition – a huge thanks to the film crew that was part of this journey; Sarah Menzies, Whitney Conner Clapper, Claudia Lopez who along with myself as producer, make up the crew for the upcoming film, Afghan Cycles, about the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team – the women that DARE TO RIDE!   You can follow the progress and behind the scenes photos and blogs on Facebook and stay tuned for details as the film is in production with plans for a spring 2014 premiere!

Read more about our spring gear drive and support for the women’s national cycling team here!

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The Girls Get Their Bikes

Today, Coach picked up the 5 brand new racing bikes for the girls national team.  Thanks to Liv/giant, the girls have 5 racing bikes to compete on, with another 7 arriving this fall.

After Ky arrived from the States as our ‘bike mechanic’, she immediately got to work on assembling the bikes.  She got a chance to ride briefly with the girls on a training ride on one of the trucking roads out of Kabul, and to sit in on several of the interviews to meet the Coach and the girls and better understand our program and these amazing girls.

Two days later, we invited the girls over to the guesthouse/bike shop to get fitted.    They arrived in typical Afghan fashion for the bike fits.


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