Arts and Culture

Six college students pedaling for a purpose stop in Denver tomorrow

Six college students are pedaling for a purpose for 3,200 miles for Bicycles Against Poverty, and on Wednesday the team will make a pit stop at the Denver Bicycle Cafe. Bicycles against Poverty (BAP) is a non-profit organization that distributes bicycles to low-income entrepreneurs in Africa who pay for the bikes with monthly installments. The individuals who receive bikes also attend two free workshops: a bicycle-repair seminar and a money-management workshop. And after two years -- which is when the bicycle should be paid off -- the beneficiaries have received far more than a bike.

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BAP was founded in 2008 by Uganda native Muyambi Muyambi while he was still in college, and six college students comprise the Pedal for Purpose team: five from Bucknell University and one from the University of Denver. The tour began June 8 in San Jose and will end in New York City on August 10. Ziev Basson, Kaitlin Callahan and Colin Woolford, the DU student, are making the trek entirely by bicycle; the other three members organize the tour and BAP activities, and try to ride their bikes whenever they can. Alex Sandoval works as the media and outreach coordinator, Kate Rolfes works closely with each community as the events and partnership coordinator, and Nicole Adler manages the tour.

On the ride so far, the students have encountered killer African bees, 115 degree weather, black-widow spiders, welcoming faces and beautiful scenery. And the team has come to a general consensus about one important matter: Colorado rocks!

"It's unanimous that Colorado has been the most amazing part of the trip. The variety in scenery, the infinite mountaintops, and the constant friendly atmosphere make this an enjoyable state to cycle through everyday," exclaims cyclist Ziev Basson. "The support we have received from Coloradans makes the journey that much more enjoyable. I remember the ride from Montrose to Paonia. We stopped about 35 miles out to take a break. Me and Kaitlin, Jersey natives, didn't comprehend the car after car that stopped along the side of the road to see if we were short on water, had a flat tire, or needed any sort of assistance. Colin assured us, 'Yes, when someone in Colorado stops and asks about your day, they mean it.' We weren't used to this hospitality and that has definitely been the most enjoyable part of the rides."

The team has encountered some tough situations, as described in Basson's blog post titled The Hell You Ride. But despite horrific insects and miserable heat, the journey is worth it because of the cause. As Woolford explains, "The most rewarding part of this experience for me has been stopping along our bike rides every day to speak with numerous people about the impactful and unique cause. It is always so uplifting to speak about the strong impact a bicycle can have in changing the lives of many villagers in Uganda, which makes our riding every day a lot easier."


The Pedal for Purpose team hopes to raise $100,000 for that cause by the time their trip is done. They'll be at the Denver Bicycle Cafe Wednesday, July 3, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. To look at the team's tour schedule and blogs, visit the Bicycles Against Poverty webpage.

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Zoe Yabrove is a Denver native with an undergraduate degree in creative writing and a master’s in special education. She is a teacher in Denver Public Schools and contributes to Westword to get her writing fix.
Contact: Zoe Yabrove