mountain 2 mountain
Here at Osprey, we’re huge supporters of Shannon Galpin, who has created an epic movement with Mountain 2 Mountain, and who is actively moving mountains in Afghanistan by giving women and girls in conflict areas a voice — the catalyst for social change. Let’s all take a minute to listen to what Shannon has to say in her TEDx talk: Two-Wheeled Revolution, in which she explains how the bicycle is a vehicle for social justice, and shares her experiences and work in Afghanistan creating the Afghan Women’s National Cycling Team.
Six years ago, Shannon Galpin walked away from her career as an athletic trainer and used her own limited funds to launch Mountain2Mountain and “be the change” she wished to see in the world. Today, Shannon and the M2M team, are just returning from their latest trip to Afghanistan where they launched the Streets of Afghanistan project and rode bicycles through Kabul to raise awareness of cultural barriers and empower women and girls in conflict regions.
As big supporters of Shannon and the M2M work she does, we’re happy to stay in touch with her and get period updates throughout her travels. That said, we’re also excited to share what she has to show and tell from those very journeys, the latest of which center around the Streets of Afghanistan project. Here’s the latest from Shannon both in words and in pictures. Enjoy!
“Yesterday we had the finale show of the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition at the Sound Central music festival — its up for four days throughout the incredible four-day alternative music festival. Yesterday was the women’s only day to kick off the festival, where young Afghan school girls attended the festival for slam poetry, a fashion show, Afghan rap duo, Afghan singer songwriter, Ariana Delwari, and White City — fronted by my long time friend, advisor, and founder of Sound Central, Travis Beard. We brought three members of the cycling team to watch the concert and to help with the M2M Bike School.
All in all a full day. Streets exhibition set up and finale show at Sound Central Festival, M2M bike school and rock concert, finished with filming at Darul Aman Palace. Whitney, the co-director of Afghan cycles is leaving today, and then our crew is just a duo until we leave. Whitney has been amazing, and creates a sense of community, friendship, and openness wherever we go, she interacts with the Afghans we meet with grace, humor, and authenticity that I have rarely seen. Her infectious laugh combined with everyone’s exhaustion at the end of the long days makes for a slap-happy crew.
Exhaustion is starting to take hold, but perhaps that will just make the plane ride home go quicker as we sleep our way home.”
Mountain 2 Mountain’s Shannon Galpin has spent the past several years pedaling in Afghanistan, and in the midst of her journeys, she’s observed the following: “… usually the only bikes I see are simple Pakistani made commuters bikes, ridden around the country on dirt roads and highways by men and boys of all ages.” But last November, Shannon met the Men’s National Cycling Team, which made a huge impression. As Shannon put it, “They have a real love of the sport, racing in Kabul and in Pakistan. Several mentioned their hope to compete one day in the Olympics.” What’s more, even though it is culturally unacceptable for women to ride in Afghanistan, Shannon found out that there happen to be 10-12 women on the Cycling Team with the support of the coach.
While the cycling community in Afghanistan is there (and slowly gaining ground), it remains fact that those riding are doing so with virtually no support, on bikes that don’t always suit their needs and with gear that’s less than ideal. That’s why Mountain 2 Mountain is organizing a month-long bicycle gear drive that will begin on Friday, February 15th. Here’s the full run-down of details:
The most-needed items (i.e. suggested donations) are, for both women and men, both road and mountain bike: “helmets, pedals, shoes, cleats, seats, chammies, long pants, jerseys, gloves, jackets, windbreakers, sunglasses, socks, tools, tubes (no 29′ers please), tires, lube, air pumps. Lightly used old gear and new gear is welcomed!!” Cash donations to help with transport costs will also be accepted. There will be four drop-off locations in Colorado (Denver – Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop, Boulder – Boulder Cycle Sport, Golden – Rise Above Cycles, Frisco – Podium Sports). Additionally, individuals are welcome to send a box of their gear donations directly to Mountain 2 Mountain (PO Box 7399, Breckenridge, CO 80424). All gear will be picked up on March 15th, so gather your goods and get them out the door ASAP!
You can follow what’s happening with the drive and check for updates on Mountain 2 Mountain’s Facebook page.
If you want to make an online donation to support the teams or our upcoming Strength in Numbers program you can do that here!
Two years ago, Shannon Galpin became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan, a country where women are no longer allowed to ride bikes. In 2010, she rode across the Panjshir Valley, a 2-day journey of more than 150 km that tested the perception of women riding bikes, while highlighting the beauty and potential for adventure in this remote area of the world.
On October 8, riders across the US used their bikes as vehicles for social change by participating in the Panjshir Tour — showing their support and raising funds to fuel Mountain 2 Mountain‘s programs in Afghanistan. Well, now it’s time to celebrate.
If you’re anywhere near Denver, don’t miss the finale ride tomorrow at Bear Creek Lake. Show up wat 10a.m. on Saturday, October 15, to empower women and children in Afghanistan. Look forward to delicious refreshments from New Belgium Brewing beer, and Oogave – The original agave soda, sweet gear from from Osprey Packs, a wheel set from Stans NoTubes, and gorgeous red frame from Niner Bikes. All up for grabs and in support of Mountain 2 Mountain.
Shannon wrote on the prAna blog:
It was my goal to challenge perceptions and invite conversation on both sides of the equation. Challenging the stereotypes of women and Americans in Afghanistan, while challenging parallel stereotypes of Afghans as a people and as a nation in the United States. Bridging cultures and communities on two wheels… by coming together with our bikes, we can fight for justice, we can battle for change, and we can do it one pedal stroke at a time.
In 2006 Shannon Galpin, a single mom from Breckenridge, Colorado with no experience in aid work,
sold her home and flew to Kabul, Afghanistan with the goal of empowering the women and children of that region.
“I am tired and I have said ‘Enough’. I am not going to sit on the sidelines and allow atrocities to happen against women.”