From war-torn Afghanistan to the United States, adventurer, humanitarian and bike rider Shannon Galpin is on a mission to empower women facing difficult circumstances. National Geographic Adventurer named the Colorado woman a 2013 “Adventurer of the Year.”
She won the honor in part due to her efforts to host photography exhibitions in Afghanistan called “Streets of Afghanistan.” Security was a big concern, but Galpin believes that art and culture must persevere even in the most difficult circumstances. “This is an example of using art as activism and photography as voice,” Galpin told National Geographic Adventure. “Just because there is daily violence doesn’t mean there isn’t daily life.”
In 2006, Galpin founded Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit that supports education and health initiatives for women in conflict zones. Her goal was to connect American mountain communities with mountain towns abroad, and she chose Afghanistan as a focal point due to the nation’s high infant mortality rate, war and difficult living conditions for women. Some humanitarian groups consider Afghanistan to be one of the world’s worst places to be a woman.
Through it all, Galpin has used bicycles as a tool for connecting with locals. Risking her life, she mountain biked 140 miles across Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley to raise money for her initiatives. This spring, Galpin plans to bring her bicycling empowerment movement to the United States with her program Strength in Numbers, a series of five week-long mountain biking camps for women victimized by violence.
“There are going to be week-long mountain bike camps where the women and the facilitators stay together for the week, mountain bike every day, and build camaraderie, literally build physical strength, build mental strength, and then talk about how to break the victim mentality,” she told Cycling News in an interview. “The camps are that first step, the catalyst to get the women to open up and challenge some basic physical fears and build physical strength.”
The program pays all costs for women to attend–including bikes from Colorado-based custom bike builder Alchemy Bicycle Company. To get a bike, women must sign a contract that specifies how they will use their bike for positive change. Other sponsors include Primal Wear and Skratch Labs.
Galpin with her new Alchemy with Carbon Drive, and Alchemy's welder
Alchemy built Galpin a custom mountain bike that she rode across Afghanistan. It features a Gates Carbon Drive and other leading components. Read Galpin’s blog post about the building of her bike here. Click here for more information about Strength in Numbers.
When the makers of the groundbreaking Smart Car decided to build an electric bike, they chose to include a Gates Carbon Drive instead of a greasy chain. The video above says it all. Avoid traffic jams and enjoy your commute with the Smart ebike.
Via Veneto is a boulevard in Rome best known in popular culture as a landmark in filmmaker Federico Fellini’s movie “La Dolce Vita.” It is also the name of a new bike model from Tout Terrain, a German brand that specializes in stylish and practical commuter and trekking bikes. The Via Veneto, pictured above, features a comfortable upright geometry and step-through frame, Gates Carbon Drive for low maintenance and cleanliness, dynamo-powered lights, a kickstand and many other leading design features.
Founded by Oliver and Stephanie Romer, Tout Terrain is based in Gundelfingen, near the larger city of Freiburg, and all its bikes are tested and assembled by experienced bicycle mechanics. To ensure quality control, all Tout Terrain frames are painted in its own powder-coating facility. “Our ambition is to deliver you a perfect bicycle that is tailored to your personal needs,” say the Romers, whose goal is to sell bicycles that users can ride for many years, whether touring in Asia or riding to work. Tout Terrain is most popular in Europe but sells around the world. The company’s global cycling ethos is illustrated by its bike names, which have an international flare.
The Chiyoda district is the geographic center of Tokyo and the political and economic epicenter of Japan, home to embassies, the emperor’s palace, government buildings and financial district. The Chiyoda, pictured above, is Tout Terrain’s interpretation of a fast and agile city bike, featuring belt drive, fenders, disc brakes and an internally geared hub for clean and reliable shifting. Chiyoda is ideal for fast city riding with a messenger bag, whether in Tokyo or New York City.
The City 2 is named for the central City of London, the historic core of about one square mile around which the metropolis of Greater London sprawls outward. With its drop bars, The City 2, above, is a speedy urban belt-drive bike made for getting the job done. High function meets high performance.
The X-Over is made for winter cyclists and riders who hit both the pavement and dirt trails. It has battery-free dynamo lights front and back, disc brakes for stopping power in wet conditions, Carbon Drive for cleanliness and an orange powder coat for bling.
History buffs know of the Amber Road as the ancient trade route for the transfer of amber, once a highly valued commodity. For centuries, caravans of traders traveled the route from Europe to Asia and northern Africa to the Baltic Sea. The Amber Road is Tout Terrain’s premier trekking and touring bike. Its large-volume wheels and tires provide stability and sure-footedness when hauling loaded panniers. Like many Tout Terrain bikes, it features integrated racks for extra strength. This bike is made for months-long journeys across continents or weekend tours with your sleeping bag and tent.
The Metropolitan is a classic member of Tout Terrain’s touring and commuting line, featuring 26-inch wheels for those who prefer more of a mountain bike feel, disc brakes, Carbon Drive, kickstand, disc brakes and integrated racks. Visit www.tout-terrain.de for more information and contacts for ordering, no matter where you live in the world. Now hit the road. There is amber to be delivered.
Van Nicholas is a Dutch company that makes beautiful titanium bikes for touring, mountain biking and road riding. Many of their models come equipped with Carbon Drive, including the Amazon Rohloff, a long-haul touring rig with a 14-speed internal hub. Adventure Cyclist, the premier publication for touring cyclists, reviewed the bike in its October/November issue.
“Shifting is quiet and virtually instantaneous and can be done under load, while coasting or even at a dead stop,” reviewer Patrick O’Grady writes. “Titanium tubes make a great bike in terms of ride quality, longevity and ease of maintenance. Add the equally undemanding Gates Carbon Drive and Rohloff hub and you have a mount for all seasons, whether you’re saddling up for a trip to town or to Timbuktu.”
We vote for a trip to Timbuktu.
Check out the Van Nicholas website here. And subscribe to Adventure Cyclist, the magazine published by the Adventure Cycling Association, a nonprofit that is leading the charge to encourage more recreational cyclists to load up the panniers and hit the road. Van Nicholas bikes are available in the United States through Adrenaline Bikes.