In 2016 I rode 25,000m vertical meters in an attempt to raise the cost of 100 bicycles for World Bicycle Relief. For every bike donated I rode one ascent of my local col, a Cat 3 climb known to the locals simply as Maungakawa. At 250m of climbing per ascent and with a goal of 100 bikes, I set out to climb the hill 100 times, a total ascent of 25,000m on my bicycle. And on Christmas Eve of that year the cost of the 100th bicycle was donated.
I still can't quite believe it all happened. My year long fundraising journey, in which I had set out to transform the lives of others, instead ended up reshaping me. It reset my priorities, taught me about community, to value the right relationships and the right people, it took me out of my comfort zone and into opportunities I could never have foreseen. I quit my job. I moved cities. We made a short film. I refocused and reconsidered what mattered. I learned some valuable lessons. And somehow amid it all, with the incredible support of those around me, we managed to raise $14,700 for World Bicycle Relief.
As 2018 dawned, the desire for adventure, community and to engage in something more meaningful and bigger than myself became increasingly hard to ignore within my conscious. I find I cannot settle for a life that is lived simply for myself. I cannot ignore all that I have seen and experienced in the places I have visited. And while I cannot fix all that I wish to, I also know that I can, in a very small way, do just a little. So in 2018 I take on a new challenge, committing to raising another $10,000USD and raising the profile of WBR by riding my bicycle across China. In the dead of winter.
The 2018 challenge will see me join the girls of thelongwayhome.nz on the western border of China, traversing this incredible country and supporting the girls on their epic journey from Switzerland to the shores of Lake Hawea, New Zealand. By the time the girls reach the borders of China, the northern hemisphere will be descending into the depths of winter. I figure if you're going to have an adventure, you may as well make it epic.
And why do I ride for World Bicycle Relief? Simple... I truly believe in the Power of Bicycles.
It's why I applied to be a World Bicycle Relief Ambassador in 2018. It's why I spend my days enduring the pain of rehabilitating from a bike crash late last year so that I can properly ride my bike again. Cycling is a powerful medium. It can change an individual's life. It can provide the opportunity to be independent. It's the rush of getting outside and pedalling in the fresh air. It's in the challenge and euphoria of making it up a leg-burning, lung screaming hill. It's the places it can take you. And for so many, the opportunities it can provide. It's good for the environment. It's good for our health. And it's good for our communities.
I would love you to get in behind and support me on this journey. Follow my progress on twitter and instagram (@kathrynphi11ips). Follow the amazing @thelongwayhome.nz and their progress and fundraising initiative. Get on board. Every donation helps, so small or large, let's do some cool stuff with bicycles!