The flight into Kabul, carried us through the Hindu Kush mountains, exposing some of the most mysterious yet burly range in South-Central Asia. Expecting much more turbulence on arrival, due to the range, I tried to sit back and close my eyes however, the curiosity of where we were landing, coupled with the dusty looking peaks, had us all clambering to get a better look out the windows.
The line for immigration went relatively quickly and porters eagerly awaited us on the other side, to help locate and load our 400 pounds of cycling gear, not including the 5 donated LivGiant bikes. After a simple walk through customs, we made our way to the designated meeting zone, and waited for Najibullah.
Our first stop, was the Cycling Federation where we were greeted by Coach Sadiq, the President of the Federation, and several of the men’s and women’s cyclists. Mutually expressing their gratitude for one another’s hard work and dedicated teams, Shannon and Sadiq took turns also introducing everyone in the room. It was clear from the moment that we shook hands with Sadiq and his teams, that we weren’t just meeting storyline subjects, we were meeting mentors and friends.
Day two began with a trip back to the Federation, in order to drop off all of the donated cycling gear that Shannon had collected over the past few months. 40 pounds of Skratch Labs hydration powder, 1 BMC bike, 5 sets of tires from Giant, 400 jerseys, spandex shorts and bibs for men + women, 20 pairs of bike shoes, 10 helmets from Giro, Boulder Cycle Sport jerseys + gloves, a variety of seats, and 2 cases of Polar water bottles filled the hallway floor of the Federation. The smiles on the Afghan’s faces, as Shannon told Sadiq about everything that we had brought them, were parallel to American’s watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon — total awe and gratitude.
The remainder of the day was spent at Coach Sadiq’s home, where Sarah and I interviewed him, while Claudia captured him in still form. As we drove back to our guesthouse, jet lag set in however the sights and sounds of Kabul kept us awake. Beautiful green trees lined the streets as well as filled the parks, students laughed in groups – perhaps on their walk home, the traffic intertwined together like macramé – with people walking in-between cars to cross the street, green parrot police trucks scanned the crowds for disturbances, a few women in burqas strolled the sidewalks, while more women in headscarfs carried bags to where ever they were going. Compared to the average American city, it is similar. Sprinkle in some burqas to New York City, along with many more simplified basic boutiques, add in fully covered people, and some burro-drawn carts, and you’d have Kabul in the states.
Do you want to get involved with Afghan Cycles or another project that’s similar? Please consider donation to Mountain2Mountain, click here. Thank you all for following along on this journey! We can’t wait to show you the finished project!