[messengers] Couple biking from Alaska to Argentina for charity

Date: 24 Mar 2010 12:04:17 +0100
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>


Couple biking from Alaska
to Argentina
for charity

 

 

BY ANDY RIGA

 

Montreal
Gazette, March 21, 2010

 

 

Lucie Poulin and Torrey
 Pass wanted to do
“something adventurous and exciting” before focusing on careers, mortgages and
starting a family. They seem to have succeeded.

 

Poulin, 31, and Pass, 34, are almost halfway through a
yearlong, 25,000-kilometre Alaska-to-Argentina
bicycle trip. They’re also about one-10th of the way to the $20,000 they hope
to raise for Cyclo Nord-Sud, a Montreal charity
that collects used bikes and ships them to a new life in Latin America and Africa.

 

The couple started pedalling on Sept. 6.

 

Why set off from Alaska?

 

“You have to start somewhere and we’d never cycled there
before,” Pass said in a telephone interview from Antigua, Guatemala,
on Friday.

 

“It’s a route a lot of people have done. It’s a challenge.
To go from one end of the Earth to the other is the idea — from the Arctic to the Antarctic, almost.”

 

Poulin and Pass are used to rough roads.

 

They met 10 years ago when they were bike couriers on Montreal’s mean streets.

 

Poulin, a writer and photographer, is an elite road cyclist
who competed in last year’s 110-kilometre Women’s Cycling World Cup on Mount Royal.

 

Pass, an English literature teacher, has taken solo winter
trips in Canada’s subarctic
and has cycled across Canada
and down the Pacific coast to California.

 

On their current adventure, they have cycled about 11,000
kilometres.

 

By the end of this week, they are to arrive at their first
official stop: an organization in San Marcos, El Salvador, that has just received a container
packed with 450 castoff bikes and spare parts from Montreal.

 

The two will also visit organizations in Nicaragua, Bolivia
and Peru
that receive bikes donated by Cyclo Nord-Sud.

 

Poulin and Pass say they like the fact that Cyclo Nord-Sud
keeps old bikes out of local landfills, encourages green transportation and
helps the poor in southern countries. It ships out about 4,000 bikes annually.

 

“The bikes make a huge difference to everyday lives,” Pass
said. “For a lot of people, the primary means of transportation is by foot.
Once you have a bicycle, you can go much farther to work. Around here (in Guatemala),
we’ve seen hundreds of people riding out to the fields with their machetes to
work in the morning.”

 

The bikes are also used to haul food and wood for cooking.

 

“Instead of spending five hours a day transporting things
back and forth you’ll spend an hour,” Pass said.

 

“You’ll have more time for other things” — like going to
school.

 

“The lack of transportation can be a real barrier for girls
and women,” he added.

 

The couple try to cycle six days out of seven, though they
did one stretch of 17 straight days in Mexico.

 

It won’t get easier. They’ll eventually hit South America’s Andes Mountains.

 

But, generally, the cycling has been the easy part.

 

“The hardest part is not having a home, always having to
adjust to different countries, different languages,” Poulin said. “Trying to
find a safe place for our tent every night can be stressful.”

 

They expect to end their journey in August in Buenos Aires. They’ll be
flying home.

 

 

 


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