Hong Kong: With the second and final leg of TransEuropa 2011 about to get underway next week, I am again mentally and physically preparing myself for the demands of pedaling across Europe, kilometer after kilometer.
I am readying myself for a rigorous, itinerant lifestyle. On the road my days are reduced to cycling; trying not to get too lost; eating massively; route planning; finding a place to sleep; sleeping; and blogging. I repeat this cycle every day, across all kinds of terrain and through all kinds of weather systems and environments.
Which begs a very important question: Why?
The answer truthfully is much more complicated than the question. At its core, it’s a burning determination to get on with what’s important in life, and for me, cycling around the world continent by continent is damned important. My folks have been with me in Hong Kong for nearly two weeks now (which may explain my eagerness to return to Europe?). I am reminded of the wisdom my father has provided me over the years. He’s taught me (and now my son) really useful stuff like how to make a slingshot. But he’s also taught me that life isn’t a dress rehearsal. There’s one act, and this is it.
TransEuropa 2011 is much bigger than a self-indulgent bike ride. I try to have fun, hopefully more times than not, but it’s not always fun. It is, however, always rewarding.
I also strongly believe in trying to make a difference, whatever the magnitude. A life without cause is a life without effect.
On this Euro cycle I support Yaowawit, the Thai children’s charity which gives 120 very marginalized Thai kids the shot at a productive, positive life. Yaowawit’s emphasis on education and vocational training resonates with me as a lasting solution to the poverty cycle in a part of the world for which I hold deep affection.
At the end of the day I’m just a guy on a heavy bike. But through this Euro-cycle I hope to raise US$35,000 for the Yaowawit kids and to raise awareness for Yaowawit’s good work. I have a long way to go on this goal, but I am determined to get there, just as I am determined to arrive safely in Istanbul in about seven week’s time.
On this ride I also aim to make noise about climate adaptation. Certainly some of the freakish weather I cycled through this summer provides more anecdotal data points that the weather is indeed weirding due to the planet’s excessive consumption of fossil fuels. In France I suffered through a heat wave one day, then a nasty cold front the next. In Germany and Austria I endured persistent rain and cold in a weather system that was more typical of October than July, all while the United States baked.
In April I spoke at a United Nations Environment Program conference. Unfortunately, after this experience I am convinced that neither NGOs nor governments will get their acts together to do anything about what will likely be the most pressing, destabilizing issue for my son’s generation, and perhaps even for mine.
It’s our lives and our planet. It’s up to us to make a difference.