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World Bicycle Relief: Mobility matters

Buffalo bike

This is not a bike. This is a game changer for the young and a life saver for the sick and helpless. This is mobility, which in developing countries means access to a world of hitherto inaccessible opportunities. This is schools and medical treatment and a route to market. This is a future.

World Bicycle Relief is a Chicago-based charity that is dedicated to improving the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest places by providing custom-designed bicycles and the parts and mechanics to maintain them.

The heavy-duty Buffalo Bike was created as a sustainable solution to age old problems of poor infrastructure and isolated towns and villages. Because while donating bikes to people in need isn’t a new idea, the traditional approach of donating second-hand bikes to poor regions and disaster zones has always been hampered by myopia. Compatibility and availability issues mean that even if those normal bikes arrived in good condition, the vast array of different models, styles and brands would make maintaining them long-term totally impossible.

By contrast, the Buffalo is a rugged, reliable machine perfectly suited to life on rough roads in remote communities. It weighs 23kg including racks and fenders, with a frame made from oversized 16-guage steel tubing. Its coaster brake offers ease of use, safety and improved durability, while the heavy-duty wheels are more than able to withstand whatever type of terrain they’re faced with. And because there’s only one model, the mechanics can afford to stock a steady supply of spare parts.

Studies in the field suggest that with a bike, student attendance increases by up to 28% while grades increase by up to 59%. Healthcare workers can reach 40% more patients more often, and entrepreneurs increase profits by up to 50% by travelling farther and carrying more goods.

 

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To date, they have distributed more than 200,000 bicycles and trained more than 1,000 bicycle mechanics in countries like Angola, Botswana, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The goal is to eliminate distance as a barrier to education, healthcare and economic opportunity. And at inGamba, we’re extremely proud to support that. Our One Guest: One Bike program donates $147 – the price of one bike  – for every guest that takes a trip with us and whenever possible we urge people to match this donation with a gift of their own.

For us, a bicycle is a recreational tool. But to millions of people around the world, a bicycle is an inexpensive, sustainable form of transportation, one that can mean the difference between seeing a doctor, getting to school, making a living – or not. One of the things we are most proud of at inGamba is our One Guest: One Bike program where we donate $134 – the price of one bike – to World Bicycle Relief’s Africa program in honor of each person who travels with us.

– João Correia, inGamba founder

It’s impossible for us to understand just what a difference these bikes make. $134 wouldn’t even get you a pair of high-end tubular tyres, but a Buffalo Bike from World Bicycle Relief will literally change lives. Their Educational Empowerment Program provides bikes to students – 70% of whom are girls – and to teachers and education workers in rural Africa. Local community committees select those most in need and oversee bicycle use, while students sign a contract committing to school attendance. They arrive safely and on time and studies consistently find that grades and attendance rates improve after students receive bicycles.

 

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And when it’s not in use for educational purposes, the whole family can benefit from increased mobility. For example, a 2012 survey found that clinic visits for children under the age of five had more than doubled, as mothers were more easily able to bring them for vaccinations and treatment. The program also aims to strengthen local economies and promote long-term sustainability by assembling bicycles locally, training mechanics and improving the spare parts supply chain.

Around the globe, World Bicycle Relief has shown that whether it’s giving kids the chance to get an education, helping farmers bring goods to customers, assisting in disaster relief or fighting HIV/AIDS, the bicycle can do so much good. It’s a viable, cost-effective and long-term solution to some of the most challenging problems in developing nations – and we’re delighted to be a small part of that. We hope you will be too.

If you’d like to find out more or make a donation, visit the dedicated inGamba page here

 

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Eros Poli at the Giro d’Italia: Stage 20 preview for inCycle TV

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In the last of Eros Poli’s Giro d’Italia previews for inCycle TV, everyone’s favourite breakaway star tackles the 196km from Saint Vincent to the Alpine village of Sestriere, which hosted many of the events at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

Stage 20 of the 98th Giro is the final mountain stage of the race, and while Alberto Contador looks too pretty in pink to be troubled by any attacks, it could still provide some fireworks as the rest of the pack jostle for position and try to salvage some pride from this season’s first grand tour.

 

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The day’s biggest difficulty – and perhaps opportunity – will come on the Colle delle Finestre, this year’s Cima Coppi, the highest peak in the Giro d’Italia. It’s the third time that the Giro will ascend the 2,178m pass after it first appeared in 2005, and it’s 9.2% average gradient is in stark contrast to the stage’s flat first 150 km, which runs through the upper Po Valley.

The Colle delle Finestre climb features a steady gradient from start to finish – there is a short stretch at Meana di Susa with a max 14% slope – but what really marks this climb out as special is the fact that the second half of it is unpaved.

 

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After that, it’s a technical descent and another 9.2km climb to Sestriere, which averages at just over 5% but peaks around 9%. The Giro has finished here on six occasions – including 1993, when Miguel Indurain won the time trial. The Spaniard went on to win the overall classification in Milan on his way to his historic Giro-Tour double [To find out more about Indurain’s summer event with inGamba, click here]. Contador will hope that he can repeat his countryman’s formidable feat.

There will still be 185 of the 3,486km total to complete on Sunday’s final stage, but this is the last real opportunity for genuine excitement. And thankfully for the peloton, the weather has improved since inGamba’s own Tour de France stage winner made the ascent.

Eros Poli at the Giro d’Italia: Stage 19 preview for inCycle TV

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Our very own Eros Poli has been back in action for inCycle TV, previewing what should be one of the most decisive days at this year’s Giro d’Italia.

With the help of the inGamba mechanical team, Poli headed to the Valle d’Aosta region in Italy’s extreme northwest to reveal the key points on this gruelling stage from Gravellona Toce to Cervinia.

It’s the first time that the Corsa Rosa has come to Gravellona Toce, but the finish in Cervinia will be very familiar to fans of Italian cycling. It first featured in 1960, when a little known Addo Kazianka beat the likes of Charly Gaul and Jacques Anquetil to take the biggest win of his career. Most recently, Movistar’s Andrey Amador won with a gutsy sprint to the line in 2012.

Undoubtedly the climb’s most famous moment happened in 1997, however, when Saeco’s Ivan Gotti used the climb to wrestle the maglia rosa from Pavel Tonkov. The Russian was the favourite that year, having also won in 1996, but he was put to the sword on the ascent to Cervinia by Gotti who overcame a 67 second deficit to give the local Tifosi something to cheer about.

 

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This year, the 19th day of the Giro should again be decisive. It’s 236km in total, with around 4,800 m of climbing, most of which is tackled in the last 100km on three huge, back-to-back climbs. The St. Barthélemy ascent (20 km at a 5.6% gradient) comes first, followed by St. Pantaléon (a harsher climb: 16.5 km at a 7.2% gradient) and as the grand finale, the 19km-long climb to Cervinia, which has an average 5% gradient but ramps up to 12% in places.

Here’s what Eros has to say about it.

 

Eros Poli features on inCycle TV for Giro d’Italia preview

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Our very own Eros Poli is working hard at the Giro d’Italia right now, but he took time to collaborate with inCycle TV to create a series of previews for the most demanding stages of this year’s Corsa Rosa. 

There will be exciting previews of stages 19 and 20 to come, when Eros analyse two difficult days of climbing on some of the most iconic ascents in the Alps, but first up is stage 16 from Pinzolo to Aprica.

A high mountain stage with five KOM climbs, the peloton will cover a total of 174km and 4,500m of vertical. The route starts uphill in Pinzolo and tackles the Campo Carlo Magno climb – which also features on stage 15 – before a fast descent into Dimaro.

From there, the road goes up again to the famous Passo del Tonale. The stage then drops down into Ponte di Legno and Edolo, then takes in the first climb towards Aprica, through the village of Santicolo – where the gradient peaks at 15% in the first stretch. After rolling past Corteno Golgi, the route heads for the first passage on the finish line. The following descent is initially wide and fast, and turns narrower and more technical all the way up to Stazzona.

 

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The road then levels out briefly while running through Tirano – the only flat sector of the stage – then it tackles the Mortirolo climb along the traditional Mazzo di Valtellina slope, with an average 12.2% gradient along the six kilometres of the central sector, and highs of 18%. This is followed by a technical descent to Monno and then to Edolo, where the route will retrace the 14km to Aprica.

Mortirolo is this year’s “Montagna Pantani”, celebrating the great success of 4 June 1994, when the great Marco Pantani clinched a masterful solo win – his second consecutive stage win that year – to announce his talent to the world and secure a place on the Giro’s podium behind Evgeni Berzin and ahead of Miguel Indurain.