First, the PeaceBike Cliff Notes…
PeaceBike is an ´edu-venture´ around the world for peace.
PeaceBike is an educational non-profit organization founded in 1999 to connect young people around the world to each other so that their friendships build a peaceful future for us all.
From 1999-2001, Tad Beckwith and Frank Pollari –
along with Shauna Curry and Penny Beckwith – travelled the world by bike and shared their
journeys online in order to increase cross-cultural awareness.
PeaceBike builds peace through connecting people.
PeaceBike visited about a school a week and met students ranging from preschool to high school, connecting them with pen pals, conducting interviews, sharing visions for peace, and telling tales
from the journey. PeaceBike has also presented to community organizations, colleges, and through its website, to the world.
PeaceBikers traveled a combined distance of over 30,000 kms (by bike) through the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, China, Nepal, India, Italy, and into Tunisia (that makes five continents). The journey was documented online in
video clips, photos, interviews, and journals for the world to share and learn from.
And now that you have the basics, here’s how it all started…
“A Journey Begins” by Tad Beckwith
Founder of PeaceBike and Expedition Team Member
“Yeeoow. The wind licked under my helmet and blew the watery tears of excitement into the corners of my eyes and down my cheeks as I sped away from the Astoria Tower down the hill. The rush of living my dream pulsed and surged through me down to my fingers as they clutched
the handle grips and the brakes at the same time. I was beginning what would become the first mission of PeaceBike, a 222-mile trek down the Oregon Coast (USA) from Astoria to Florence.
This was just a practice ride to test my legs against the dream of my head. I was now officially in training for PeaceBike, a 45,000 km bicycle journey to connect people around the world.”
-Excerpt from the first PeaceBike Journal Entry, August 26, 1998
We at PeaceBike believe that travelers can best get to know the heart of a culture by traveling at “bike-speed.” From experience, we learned that a bike allows the traveler to stop and share a watermelon with the local road crew, accept an invitation to come help hoe the potato patch, or watch children playing in a gurgling brook at the road’s edge. Bike travel is also a sustainable
technology that is economical, efficient, non-polluting, and good exercise. So, really, why not bike? [Where could you bike today?]
Whose idea was this?
The founder of PeaceBike, Tad Beckwith, was inspired by the travels of his eighth-grade social studies teacher. In the early 1980s his teacher, wife, and sons (ages 8 and 11 at the time) decided they would give themselves a more “whole world” education and took a bike trip around the world. After their trip, this couple began teaching at Kodaikanal International School in South
India where Tad was studying in 1987-89. Tad learned more than social studies “by the book” through the vivid stories of their three-and-a-half-year bike trip and was inspired to, someday, take a bike trip of his own.
In high school Tad worked as an activist on local and national environmental issues and became involved in the peace movement during the Gulf War. In college, Tad interned with the YMCA of
Seattle’s ecology programs and participated in a training and service program with Fellowship of Reconciliation. In 1997, Tad became an elementary school teacher, and many of his students, when they learned about his planned bike trip, wanted to come too. After much discussion with
students, other educators, and friends, Tad realized that his dream had transformed from a “bike trip” to an online, educational odyssey to share the world with the world. Tad, with the help of many, established PeaceBike, a non-profit organization, in 1999, to implement this vision of living
out “a message on a bike” – a message of peace, sustainability, and cross-cultural celebration.
Where are you going?
PeaceBike shares Tad Beckwith’s trip down the West Coast of the United States (accompanied by Frank Pollari in Oregon and California), across Mexico, through Central America and South America, where Frank again joined Tad in Ecuador. The route led through Oceania and Asia, and also included the journeys of two other PeaceBikers – Shauna Curry in Central and South America and Penny Beckwith in India. Tad’s PeaceBike route was planned to continue on from India (October 2001), flying into to Iran, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East before going on to West Africa, Europe, and across the United States. The timing of this course was determined to avoid harsh climate conditions, such as summer in Egypt or winter in Tibet. You’ll want to read the journals to learn why and how the route changed dramatically in October of 2001. Frank’s journey took him, as planned, on to Europe, focusing on travel in Italy before heading home to Canada. Shauna continued travels in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, before returning to Canada, and Penny launched into her senior year in high school in Oregon after her bike travels in India.