i have to thank my friend Rachel McPhail for sending this in to me, first of all – cheers Rachel!
“Cycling is not an acceptable thing for women to do in Afghanistan,” begins a paragraph on the website Combat Apathy that has the article on this team, which you can read in full here. you may well think ‘hmm, along with teaching, studying, walking around with an uncovered head or aspiring to be a professional anything,’ and you’d be right, at least in the Taliban held areas.
yet here are a group of women, living in Afghanistan, who are doing just that. riding, that is, and man, may Eddy bless them.
amazingly, the article tells us, there are 60-70 female riders in the war-torn country, a fact that astounds me. perhaps i am very ill-informed on Afghanistan (actually, apart from the war, the Taliban and opium growing statistics, i definitely am), but had there been just one lone woman cranking the pedals i would have been surprised.
the Combat Apathy people are to join in a collaborative effort to produce a short documentary on the Afghan Women’s National Cycling Team, which, they say, will be about “what it means to ride in the controversial country.”
sounds amazing? well, yes. they are currently holding a ‘gear drive‘ in Colorado to collect equipment for the team, something you can maybe go and contribute to if you live close by. i’m going to mail them to see if there is anything else that those of us living in far off lands can do to help.
Shannon Galpin, who spent three years mountain biking in Afghanistan, is the driving force behind the project, and on her Mountain 2 Mountain blog she describes how she first found out about the team:
“..we found out that there are women cycling in Afghanistan, and as part of the National Cycling Team under his [the men’s team coach] support. There are 10-12 women on the national team, and a total of 60-70 riding in the country. They are taking their love of bikes to extremes – Afghanistan still does not culturally accept women riding bikes, and right now the women only train once a week due to safety concerns and support. In four years of riding bikes in Afghanistan I have yet to meet a woman that rides, so finding women in Kabul and Mazar i Sharif that are riding, and desire to race, made my heart swell with excitement. The more women that ride, the more that will become accepted, and perhaps we’ll soon see girls riding bikes to school like in other countries!”
you can if you feel so inclined contact the people behind the planned film here:
why the crankpunkers of the year award to these women? even before the year is out?
well, as Rachel wrote, “Boy-o, there ain’t NOTHING in this world crankier and punkier than a Muslim woman on a bike in an extremist front-line war zone nation.”
crank on, women, crank on.