Women cannot ride bicycles in Afghanistan. But in 2010, Shannon Galpin, founder of Mountain2Mountain, rode a Niner single-speed100 miles and up 10,000 vertical feet across Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley for the inaugural Panjshir Tour. Her intention wasn’t to shred the singletrack of Afghanistan but to raise awareness and change perspectives in Afghanistan.
During last year’s official inaugural Panjshir Tour, villagers in the Panjshir Valley crowded around her, intrigued by a woman stepping into pedals and hitting the trail. They hung out with her at rest stops and chatted about sheep, goats, grazing habits and women riding bikes. A sight like this wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in 98.3% of the world’s cultures and countries but in Afghanistan, she stuck out like a Surly Moonlander at a downhill race in mid-July.
Inevitably, the men of the Panjshir Valley told Outside magazine writer Nick Heil, when he accompanied her last year to write the March 2011 issue story, “The Ride of Her Life”, [Shannon riding a bike] “It is very impressive, and we admire her for doing it. She is very strong.” But when asked if they would ever allow the women of the village to ride bikes, the general consensus was, “Oh, no. Never. This would not be appropriate.”
Whatever, dudes. It’s 2011.
On October 8th, cyclists in Washington, DC; Saratoga Springs, New York; New York City; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; Santa Rosa, California; and Minneapolis will participate in the Panjshir Tour to raise funds and awareness for Mountain2Mountain, unifying thousands of riders symbolically.
Minneapolis is the latest city to join the tour and will honor and celebrate Mountain2Mountain’s mission of changing stereotypes and perceptions by connecting communities and cultures by bicycles.
How does participating in the Panjshir Tour help? It sends a powerful statement. People riding bikes in solidarity in the fight for women’s rights in war zones and connects communities and cultures at its very essence. Each rider becomes part of a broader movement, essentially using the power of the pedal to create changes in perceptions.
The 2011 Panjshir Tour is a 15-mile ride over paved bike paths that begin at the Eagan Central Park Pavilion in Eagan at Central Parkway and Pilot Knob Road. The Tour course follows the Big Rivers Regional Trail, passes briefly through Lilydale, connects with the Shepherd Road Trail, meanders down through Fort Snelling and ends at the Eagan Community Center.
Post-ride festivities include a gathering at Granite City Brewery and a drawing for prizes donated from our sponsors at Timbuk2, Overland Equipment, Vasque, Osprey, LIN socks, Polar Bottle, Bolle, Mission Workshop, GU and others. In fact, LIN socks is giving away a free pair of bike socks to the first 150 riders that sign up and GU a-plenty for the ride.
- The cost to enter is $35 and all proceeds go to Mountain2Mountain
- Event takes place rain or shine so be prepared
- Ride is 15 miles with rest stops along the way
- Ride is self-sustained but there will be mechanical assistance available
- Bring water/snacks
- Helmets are required
For more information on the Minneapolis Tour, sign up on Active.com and come out and enjoy Minneapolis’ fall colors by bike while you ride for social justice and change in Afghanistan.