By Shannon Galpin
Do you remember your first bike? Odds are, you remember distinctly the color, the shape of the seat, it may have even had a name. Mine was a bright blue Schwinn. It was stolen off my front porch a few months later and I was heartbroken. My second was pink with a banana seat. I was careful not to leave it on the front porch and it was my faithful friend until junior high when I got my first steel blue ten speed. Funny how bikes mark themselves indelibly on your brain?
This week in Afghanistan, I had the pleasure of giving 12 girls in Kabul their first bike.
First up was a visit to bazaar in the old part of Kabul to purchase some bikes that the girls could ride easily and that wouldn’t stand out – more than a girl riding a bike already does in a country that has never allowed females to ride bikes.
We pick up a fleet of the same bike in different colors. We had the bike mechanic that worked with us to build up the donated Liv/giant racing bikes check them over and make sure everything was in working order. Delivered them to Coach’s house and asked the girls to meet up for a team meeting.
We handed out the bikes to huge smiles and laughter. The girls have loved riding the new racing bikes and training, but none of them have ever had their own bike. Each girl has assured us that they have a male family member that have agreed to ride with them as an escort, most cases a brother, but also a father and a step-son. These girls are among the first Afghan girls to be riding bikes in Kabul socially. Its the start of a revolution. Girls on bikes. Breaking the last big gender taboo. We couldn’t be prouder. Ride on ladies.
Read More about the Afghanistan Women’s Cycling Team and Shannon Galpin’s inspiring adventures at Mountain2Mountain.