Cycling Silk: Following in Marco Polo’s Footsteps to Promote Conservation

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Americans Kate Harris and Melissa Yule have just set off on an epic cycling adventure. The two young women are currently in Turkey where they put the final touches on their plans to ride their bikes the length of the ancient Silk Road last week, finally hitting the road on Friday. While that, in and of itself, is quite the adventurous pursuit, the ladies have bigger plans in mind as well, as they hope to use their ride to promote the importance of conservation in a series of Trans-Boundary Protection Areas (TBPA) along their route.

Kate and Melissa have have named their expedition Cycling Silk, and you can find plenty of info about their plans and their cause on their website. The duo expect that it will take them a full year to complete the 10,000 mile ride, and while they have mapped out an intended route, they say that the exact details are in flux, and will evolve while they ride, due to changing political climate in some countries. The ride is also a bit of a science project, as the girls hope to research the impact of TBPA’s on the surrounding areas and get a grasp of what the locals think about the concept as well.

The term Trans-Boundary Protection Area refers to a region that straddles the border of two international borders and is managed cooperatively between the nations involved. These regions are sometimes called “peace parks” and generally present some unique challenges, but great opportunities for opening dialogs and relations between countries. An example of such a place is Big Bend National Park here in the U.S. with one side managed by the American government, and the other side of the border controlled by the Mexican government. That example is a work in progress, but attempts are being made to make it more of a reality.

On this ride, Kate and Melissa will pass through six TBPA’s while also promoting the growing clean water crisis that is becoming an issue across the planet and the impact of global climate change on the environment. You can follow the progress of these two adventurous women on their Facebook page and through their Twitter feed.

Kraig Becker