Whether you’re already biking up a storm or planning to the second summer hits, you’ll want to keep track of all your miles on MapMyRide starting June 12. That day marks the 200th anniversary of the bicycle — apparently the two-wheeled invention was first ridden in Mannheim, Germany, in 1817 — as well as the launch of a new, summer-long, global initiative challenging people to ride 200km (125 miles) and raise $200 Canadian dollars (~$150 U.S.) to donate bikes in Africa.
WHAT IS #200FOR200?
The TDA Foundation is behind this fundraising campaign dubbed #200for200, and has a lofty, but attainable, goal to raise at least $200,000 Canadian to send 1,000 free bicycles (that’s one bike for every 200km/$200) to school children in east and south Africa by next spring. The ground rules to participate are so simple and inclusive that they may actually smash that goal by the international campaign’s end date: September 12, 2017.
“Anyone can do the ride at any level of fitness. It can be done by a solo rider in one day or over the course of the summer. It can also be collective kilometers from a pair or group of riders. There’s lots of ways to get involved,” says Lara Marjerrison, TDA’s project manager for #200for200. In other words, you don’t have to pedal alone. Recruit friends to help you complete the challenge — or inspire them to sign up for their own #200for200 — and together you can get African kids riding soon, too. Contributing as little as $5 and 5 miles can help the worthy cause.
Giving back has long been part of TDA’s DNA. “The reason TDA started was to create the potential for this better means of transportation in Africa,” Marjerrison says. The foundation was formed by TDA Global Cycling, the adventure cycling company based in Toronto, which is committed to donating bikes to the communities it rolls through. Since the charity’s inception in 2003, which began with a cross-continental ride from Cairo, Egypt, to Cape Town, South Africa (7,000+ miles in four months), TDA has sent 2,300 bikes to more than 70 grassroots organizations and communities in eight African countries as well as India.
READ MORE > CAMPOVELO: THE MAKING OF A CHARITY RIDE
THE POWER OF A BIKE
“Donating a bike has a very significant impact in breaking the cycle of poverty. Think about a child who’s unable to get to school, a healthcare provider who’s unable to access patients or entrepreneur who’s unable to get to the market. A bike can facilitate doing these things. There’s a greater impact in that it’s not just one person in that family who ends up using the bicycle. Siblings, parents and everyone will benefit from it, so there’s a multiplier effect,” Marjerrison explains. “I get emotional when I look at the pictures and understand the impact and how far reaching it can be. I couldn’t be more proud of this project.”
TDA is still looking into bike brands who may be up for the donation challenge. “We really want to keep it personal in terms of making sure the bikes go to our partners and the communities we’ve connected with so deeply and meaningfully on our tours,” Marjerrison says.
There will be prizes, too. Among them is joining a portion of one of TDA Global Cycling’s bike tours or being present at the donation ceremony next spring. “This dream trip will include the flight and accommodations. It’s a pretty spectacular prize and, again, is perfectly aligned with TDA, what we do, for whom and why,” Marjerrison says.