(By Mikael Strandberg) "It's hard to imagine life beyond that first pedal stroke out of Istanbul, in part because we're so consumed now with preparing for the Expedition" , Kate Harris tells ExWeb from her home in Guelph, Ontario; "But mostly because that's the fundamental joy and wonder of a journey like this: we have no real clue what waits around that next bend in the road."
15 000 km from Istanbul to India
Melissa and Kate´s bike trip is a field research Expedition that aims to explore and advocate for conservation and connectivity across borders. Over the course of a year, they will cycle 15,000 km through the shattered mountains and scorched deserts that span the Silk Road from Istanbul to India.
"We expect to encounter mountains and deserts, bustling cities and far-flung wildernesses, moments of exhilaration and others of desolation, and borders both real and imaginary" , Kate tells ExWeb whilst getting ready to leave any day; "We plan a year, from January 2011 until December 2011. Or until even our most desperate penny, euro, ruble and rupee-pinching efforts fail us, and empty bank accounts force a retreat home."
They want other people to fall in love
One of the four mission statements for the Expedition is to make others fall in love with this wild part of the world, since making people care about a place is usually prerequisite for its conservation. For Kate, moving is her mission in life, she tells ExWeb:
"Whether exploring through science or writing, on a bike or on foot, solo or with friends, on this planet or beyond, my simple goal is to move, be moved, and move others in turn."
Global education is on the agenda
Global educational and public outreach is a crucial component of the Cycling Silk expedition. Melissa and Kate want to channel this Silk Road cycling odyssey into practical conservation results, namely by making the broader public aware that environmental conservation doesnt end or begin with borders.
First report in a months time
Since the historical Silk Route passes through politically unstable areas, a precise route will evolve wildly as politics and prudence dictate. In a month we should have the first exciting report from Melissa and Kate.
In 2006, Kate Harris and Mel Yule spent four months biking after Marco Polo's ghost through Xinjiang and Tibet in western China. Best pals since the age of ten, these two are wannabe explorers who wish maps had more blank spaces. They set o down an abridged section of the Silk Road to experience a hint of how Marco felt confronting its meanders and dead ends, high passes and harsh deserts, ancient villages and booming cities.
Now these young scientist-adventurers plan to finish cycling the Silk Road they left untraveled, only this time exploring environmental conservation across borders along the way. In a single uninterrupted push lasting at least a year, they will ride from Istanbul, Turkey to northern India; study transboundary protected areas (TBPAs) in mountainous wildernesses on the route; and burn muscle to the bone with pulses pounding to the rhythm of altitude, adrenaline and life itself along the storied Silk Road.
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