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Spirit of Triathlon: Manna from Heaven

Posted Jan 11 2009 5:42pm
According to Bolder from Boulder, it's all about the bike. He did not even know how right he was, and the bike doesn't need to be nearly as fancy as his beloved Cervelo. Second hand mountain bikes or hybrids will do.

A man from Namibia, where poverty and the AIDS pandemic rage, told me the other day that his second hand bicycle was "Manna from Heaven." Actually, he did not tell me, he told the world. His words were featured in the first of a series of stories on the BBC Radio archive entitled, "The Fall And Rise Of The Bicycle."

His bicycle had first been owned by someone in the UK or perhaps America who no longer had use for it. It had been donated through any number of bicycle charities who provided the bicycle to the Bicycle Empowerment Network--Namibia (BEN-Namibia), which refurbishes and repairs the bicycles, and then gives them to people who need them. Listen here.

Big deal? Actually, in places like Namibia it is. A child with a bicycle can make it to school on time, getting an education and remaining safe in the schoolhouse. An medical worker with a bicycle can travel the distances necessary to care for the appalling numbers of people in Namibia suffering from AIDS, making sure that they take their medications and are cared for with dignity. A farmer or artisan or small business person with a bicycle can travel and do commerce with others. Check out BEN-Namibia and their partner charities, including Bicycles for Humanity. You'll be astounded what a cheap mountain bike can become in the third world.

How many of us started our own triathlon journeys on mountain bikes or hybrids that we no longer have use for? The spirit of triathlon is the handshake in the transition area before the race, the encouragement on the course, and the slap on the back after the race. That spirit applied to our old bicycles means they no longer gather the dust of idleness in our garages, but gather the dust of use by people for whom they are "Manna from Heaven."
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