Kicking in the 9-5 job in London in 2003, buying a bicycle and becoming a bike messenger in the very unforgiving conditions of a grey and wet metropolis was the first time I had been on a bike since I was a child. Whizzing through the streets of the West End, delivering legal documents and parcels, dodging taxis and the infamous old school red buses synonymous with London soon reinvigorated that childlike awe for the bike and its myriad of benefits.
Soon after touching down in Australia in an attempt to escape the weather of the UK I found myself walking into a bicycle shop oppose to a second hand car dealer whilst looking for a mode of transport to investigate this huge chunk of land mass at the bottom of the world. This would be the beginning of a new way of travel, slow, pure and rewarding, but most of all treading lightly on the planet whilst doing so. A mantra and belief that had grown stronger and stronger in me whilst boxed up in the concrete jungles of London, a far cry from the barefoot existence I had come from on the West Coast of Cape Town, South Africa surrounded by ocean and indigenous fynbos, a small part of the world with more plant varieties than the entire northern hemisphere.
Whilst crossing the Nullabor desert of Australia on my two wheeled accomplice in 2005, I dared to dream of cycling around the globe, not merely to conquer it, but to send a positive message whilst doing so. I wanted to make a considerable effort towards conservation and share this new found passion and love for the bike, its ability to purify the mind, body and soul. Advocating this humble but honest piece of machinery, the most energy efficient machine ever invented; the Global Wheeling concept was born…
Like a dormant volcano, Global Wheeling was filed away to the subconscious like so many dreams and plans we fathom. Once again erupting in 2008 whilst hitch-hiking through Morocco, the dream instantly catapulted to the top of the agenda. Returning to South Africa to take the idea from concept to reality two years would go by planning routes, building websites and trying to find sponsors. The creation and registration of Global Wheeling as a non-profit was of utmost importance to me, not happy with the way existing Non Profits were dipping into public funds under the guise of running costs and CEO bonus incentives, I was keen to create a platform that did with public funds what it promised. As of August 2010 this platform was in place and by October 3, 2010 The Global Wheeling ride launched from City Hall in Manchester, England as it rolled through a country where the love for the bike was again reignited 7 years prior.
By choosing a carbon neutral mode of transport to tackle the challenge of crossing another 40 nations on a bicycle should in itself speak for the efficiency of the two wheeled clean green eco machine. Carrying all my worldly possessions and survival gear from medical aid kit to spare parts, cooking equipment and rehydration sachets, this pilgrimage underlines the ability one has to opt for the eco-friendly steed over its motorised counterpart. Understandably unpractical at times and admittedly time consuming, the message is not to ditch the motor vehicle entirely but rather to give the bicycle a second thought.
This ride hopes to underline the undeniable benefits of carbon free two wheeled travel, the spreading of bike consciousness and it’s myriad of benefits both environmentally and socially. The ability the bicycle has to reduce carbon, alleviate congestion and improve both health and vitality. With a bit of luck helping to nudge the South African perception of the bicycle a bit closer to the mentality of cities like Amsterdam and San Francisco both of which I have spent considerable time in studying the major and undeniable benefits of two wheeled non-invasive transport in an urban environment.
Let’s get those bums on bikes!
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