Shannon Galpin, of Breckenridge and founder of Mountain2Mountain has been nominated as a Humanitarian Adventurer of 2013 by National Geographic magazine. Shannon has used her bicycle to raise awareness and funds to advocate for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan. Vote for her here
Watch Shannon's TedX Mile High presentation about Mountain2Mountain:
From her nomination page:
She has used her bicycle as an icebreaker with village elders in remote mountain villages, and in a particularly bold fundraising act, she’s mountain biked 140 miles across the Panjshir Valley. In Afghanistan, women cannot ride bikes because of laws and social customs, a fact that Galpin believes has hindered women’s education by preventing them from being able to independently travel to school. As a foreign woman, Galpin was able to cross this boundary and turn it into a conversation starter.
Adventure: While most know you as an activist, two-wheeled vehicles never seem far away from the conversation. You’re known to ride a motorcycle around Kabul. You bring your mountain bike on many of your trips. Does your passion for biking overlap with activism?
Shannon Galpin: I launched Mountain2Mountain the same time I became a mountain biker. I think there is something very different about embracing a sport that you know wholeheartedly is going to make you bloody. You know you are going to crash when you mountain bike. There is no way to get better if you don’t crash. I think there is a synergy in it. When women first started using the bike in the 1800s, it was literally a vehicle for their empowerment. They broke barriers on women’s suffrage and embracing their own freedom of transportation.
A: In 2009, you did some riding around villages and got the idea to ride across the Panjshir Valley to the summit of the 14,000-foot Anjuman Pass. In 2010 you made that traverse happen in part for adventure, in part for fundraising. You had a support team, but still, was that dangerous?
SG: That trip was meant to be three days, balls to the walls, right through, because we didn’t know if it was safe. It was on a road, so it would have been easy for someone to follow us. Easy to kidnap us. Drivers could go past us and go to the next village and warn them. It was much more risky, much more public. We pedaled hard for two days. We passed the last village. We were in no man’s land. There were reports that there were gunrunners on top of the pass. We had to call it quits, but still we rode across the valley.