On Saturday, October 8th, Minneapolis will join Washington DC; Saratoga Springs, NY; New York City; Los Angeles, CA; Portland, OR; Santa Rosa, CA in hosting the 2011 Panjshir Tour to support Mountain2Mountain projects in Afghanistan.
Education is a fundamental tool in promoting and sustaining peace in war-torn and impoverished nations. Education also creates job opportunities. Yet in some parts of the world, specifically Afghanistan, education and jobs are not so easy to come by—especially if you happen to be female. That’s where bikes come in. By connecting people with education and vocation, bikes are the vital cog in the wheel of progress.
But before women and girls can have access to education and job training, the infrastructure has to be there.
So how did this all start?
Rewind to 2008.
Shannon Galpin, founder of Mountain2Mountain, was traveling back to Kabul after developing sustainable education and job training programs in the Panjshir Valley. As she gazed out the car window to the lush green hills dotted with red flowers, a thought entered her mind: If women in my midwife training programs could ride bikes, they could get to their patients faster. In the remote villages of Afghanistan, a fifteen-minute difference could save the life of a woman in labor.
There was just one problem. In the Afghani culture, women don’t ride bikes.
In 2009, the following year, Galpin rode her mountain bike in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province, becoming the first woman to do so. Her motivation was threefold:
- Break down barriers and stereotypes and show the Afghanis that women on bikes would hardly bring the end of the world
- Peace mission
- Personal adventure
2010 marked the inaugural Panjshir Tour series. As Shannon rode her mountain bike to the imposing 14,000-foot Anjuman Pass in the Panjshir Valley, a handful of friends and volunteers back in the states organized several community-based Panjshir Tours to raise money for M2M.
Fast forward to 2011.
Minneapolis is the latest city to host the Panjshir Tour. Fitting, I think, as Minnesotans are notorious for their compassion, generosity and reverence for education and the value of job opportunities. Probably doesn’t hurt that Minneapolis is the #1 Bike City in the Country because of our healthy base of dedicated cyclists and beautiful bike trails.
The 2011 Panjshir Tour is a fifteen-mile ride over paved bike paths that begin at the Eagan Central Park Pavilion in Eagan at Central Parkway and Pilot Knob Road. The Tour course follows the Big Rivers Regional Trail, passes briefly through Lilydale, connects with the Shepherd Road Trail, meanders down through Fort Snelling and ends at the Eagan Community Center.
Post-ride festivities include a gathering at Granite City Brewery and a drawing for prizes donated from our sponsors at Timbuk2, Overland Equipment, Vasque, Osprey, LIN socks, Polar Bottle, Mission Workshop, Bolle, GU and others. In fact, LIN socks is giving away a free pair of bike socks to the first 150 riders that sign up and GU is supplying all the GU they can consume for the day.
For more information, visit the 2011 Panjshir Tour – Minneapolis page on Facebook or visit the Active.com listing to sign up.
- The cost to enter is $35 and all proceeds go to Mountain2Mountain
- Event takes place rain or shine so be prepared
- Ride is 15 miles with rest stops along the way
- Ride is self-sustained but there will be mechanical assistance available
- Bring water/snacks
- Helmets are required
By riding in the Panjshir Tour, you’ll be directly contributing to building peace in Afghanistan (and you’ll burn calories and get some exercise on a beautiful fall day).