Bikers spread knowledge of globalization

by Stacy Jo

Just two months ago, Pinky Serafica’s bike-riding experience was limited to commuting a short distance to and from work in her Philippine hometown.
Now she rides up to 100 miles per day.
“All you need is a bowl of granola in the morning and you whiz right through,” Serafica said.
Serafica is one of 21 young people biking across the country for Bike-Aid 1998, an annual bike ride first organized in 1983 to raise money to educate younger people on issues of globalization. The ride is organized by the Overseas Development Network, a national, student-based organization that has chapters on more than 150 college campuses across the nation.
The St. Frances Cabrini Church at 1500 Franklin Ave S.E. has been the group’s home this week while members organized a warehouse for the Minneapolis Habitat for Humanity chapter.
The riders began the tour in Seattle on June 15 and arrived in Minneapolis on Sunday. At the Aug. 21 culmination of the tour in Washington, D.C., riders will join another contingent of the tour to meet with Congressional officials.
After the 3,600-mile ride, the riders will share their findings on globalization’s effects on communities with the officials in hopes of initiating change.
“It’s more of a quality experience instead of just quantity,” said Anthony Tedesco, a rider from Los Vegas.
During the rare hours that the cyclists have a break from pedaling across the nation, riders on this year’s 10-week course examine the effects of globalization on communities.
Julie Dutton, a resident of San Jose, Calif., said she and other riders have found that many small towns across the country empty out because of an inability to compete with the attractions of larger cities. She said this is the most profound way globalization impacts smaller communities.
While the group will stop at a few larger cities like Minneapolis, the majority of the group’s stops are in smaller towns, where the results of grassroots volunteerism are more pronounced.
During their occasional rest days, riders work on grassroots community projects, like clearing a vacant lot for playground space in Spokane, Wash.
Each rider raises $3,600 in pledges, one dollar for each mile travelled; in all, the group will raise more than $75,000.
One quarter of the money raised will support the community projects riders identify as most in need of financial assistance. The remaining amount will go to other global development programs.
Although the money raised will go to noble causes, riders said the 3,600-mile ride is grueling nonetheless.
“Nothing prepares you for riding your bike day after day, 8 hours a day,” Tedesco said.
Calling themselves “a community on wheels,” the riders boast a very diverse group of individuals. From a 16-year-old American high school student to riders from Zimbabwe, the Philippines and Bolivia, some riders said they learn as much from one another as they do from those they meet on the tour.
“I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach,” said rider Cosmus Matipira, a resident of Zimbabwe.
However, riders stress that the kindness of strangers has surprised and even overwhelmed them.
On the second day of the tour, the riders encountered snow in Stevens Pass of the Cascade Mountains. Physically unprepared for such conditions, some riders resorted to stopping their bikes and doing jumping jacks in the road to fight off hypothermia.
Several riders knocked on the doors of nearby homes, hoping for temporary shelter. Residents let the riders into their homes and offered them warm clothing and food.
Serafica said this display of generosity makes the group’s goal of improving communities seem plausible.