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February 2004 Newsletter
Bits and stories about World Bike for Breath. A Bulletin for sponsors. Volume 1, February, 2004
Hello dear friends and sponsors:
After ten months, 22 countries, and over 8000 kilometers of pedaling we are now on the home stretch! We are currently cycling in New Zealand and, after a brief visit to Tonga, will be landing in the U.S. on April 14! We will have many incredible stories to tell, photos to show and laughs to share as we pedal the finale ride across the U.S. and Canada: leaving Seattle again on World Asthma Day 2004 (May 8) and completing our speaking and educational ride in Washington D.C at the end of August. World Bike for Breath is planning several events in the Seattle area during April, including some great slide shows. We can't wait to see you all and thank you in person for the support and encouragement each of you have given us over the past ten grueling, challenging, and amazing months.
When we last wrote to you, we were celebrating Christmas Hong Kong style with a gold tinsel tree and Chinese roast duck. A few days later, my mother and stepfather arrived bearing letters, gifts and encouragement. It was wonderful to see family and familiar faces: after five months of struggling with the language, culture (and food) through Eastern Europe and Asia, nothing could have raised our spirits more than to be able to speak to someone in English, and to feel at home with our family over the holidays. We greeted the New Year in by burning colored papers for good luck and thankfulness in a Taoist temple and watching the Chinese Gong ring in 2004 in the waterfront plaza in Kowloon.
Our bicycles, now carefully disassembled and packed in large burlap construction bags discovered in Taiwan, we flew to Thailand with my parents for a long needed vacation in Bankok and the beaches of Pattaya. (OK I see some grins--but if you had just spent eight months cycling over mountains, against wind, rain, snow and fierce heat, camping over 180 nights and eating worms and seaweed--a bed and a beach would sound like a great idea for a week.) Surprisingly, the prostitution and poverty of Thailand made the experience more of a challenge than a vacation.
We landed in Sydney Australia on January 13. We spent a few days visiting with a friend we had made on the trans-Siberian railway; repairing the tandems (which although holding up amazingly well, certainly needed some TLC after 5 months of Eastern Europe and Asia); and shopping for clothing and basic outdoor items unavailable in Mongolia, Russia, Taiwan, and Lithuania. Taking an overnight bus to Melbourne, we then began cycling along the Australian coast via Geelong and back to Sydney. We were surprised to find that Australia is far from flat. Indeed the almost 1500 kilometers along the coast, with its non-stop excruciating "hills" (many of their little hills were 1500 foot climbs), long empty distances of "bush" (their word for trees, trees, and more trees) and intense heat and flies have been some of the most difficult cycling on the ride. However, the warmth and generosity of the Australian people; the amazing amount of unbelievable wildlife (have you ever seen an echidna???) and birds (colorful parrots, cockatoos, elegant pelicans and noisy magpies would wake us with their raucous screeching each morning); and the unbelievably beautiful empty beaches and tiny coastal towns were worthwhile rewards for our pain. As we approached Sydney, my father arrived bearing more letters and packages from you, and spent a couple of days with us at Jervis Bay. Then realizing the need for all of us to have a little time apart, Anya and Yvonne took a two day break from cycling and drove with him to the Blue Mountains, while Lorenz and I had a fabulous time (despite the pouring rain) actually finishing a conversation without interruption for the first time in nine months.
From Sydney, where we visited Lorenz's uncle and aunt, saw the opera house and walked over the famous bridge, we flew to Auckland, New Zealand. Despite fearful stories by other bicyclists proclaiming New Zealand as the most difficult cycling in the world, so far we have found the pedaling significantly easier than Australia. Following the coast to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, we headed south on the North Island to Matamata, where the remains of the hobbit houses in the movie, Lord of the Rings, are available for viewing. Naturally, the girls (and parents) had to take the tour, and we all marveled at the immense detail and effort made to recreate Middle Earth and Hobbiton so perfectly. After climbing a 2000 foot pass to the volcano of Rotorua, we are now spending a couple of days viewing the steaming lakes, spurting geysers, and bubbling mud pools, as well as trying out some of the thermal activity on our aching legs in the spa.
Well, rather than extend this long letter much further, I will send a detailed route update in the next email. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.
The EbersWorld Bike for Breath
P.O. Box 11581
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Updated: March 13, 2004