Several months ago, I sat down with the Alchemy crew again about building bike #2. A dedicated singlespeed mountain biker, I needed a road bike. Probably with gears. I didn’t know where to begin.
The first bike they built me, a gorgeous stainless steel 29’er single speed, had its very first ride in Afghanistan last fall in a series of rides that happened to coincide with the announcedment that I had been chosen as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Emblazoned on the top tube in bright pink #GIVEASHIT. The tagline we coined for our upcoming partnership with Mountain2Mountain’s domestic program Strength in Numbers. One of my favorite memories of that trip was when a member of the Afghan National Army took it for a spin and discovered the strength of disc brakes. Many memories are made on a bike, even in a warzone. Maybe even moreso in a warzone.
The twist? I met women who bike, as part of the National Afghan Cycling Federation last fall. This is the first time anyone has heard of Afghan women riding bikes. Its still a cultural taboo, and in my own four years of mountain biking throughout areas of Afghanistan, I have never seen a women or girl riding a bike. Till now. Riding heavy steel bikes, often with kickstands, these women are the first to not only ride bikes, but to do so publicly and competitively.