Our favorite former pro racer turned Peace Corps Volunteer and CyclingNews.com blogger, Christoph Herby, has stirred up tremendous interest in supporting the Benin National Team with his recent “Cycling in Benin” posts. His most recent post is “Dreaming of the Champs Elysées.”
Over the past couple months offers of bikes, parts, supplies, and clothing for the Benin National Team have been rolling in from generous individuals, clubs, and manufacturers. A 200+ person bike club in Denver, CO is doing a parts drive. The good folks at the Bob Cook Memorial / Mt. Evans Hill Climb (Idaho Springs, CO – July 24, 2010), the biggest hill climb in the US, are organizing a collection. Plans are in development to aggregate the vital equipment and ship it all to Benin for use by the aspiring cyclists who currently ride on scavenged used bikes brought in from Europe. Village Bicycle Project of Seattle, WA has offered their assistance and support with freight logistics. Cyclists for Cultural Exchange of Santa Cruz, CA might be a source of grant funds to defray a portion of the substantial freight expenses. Rhétice Dagba, the President of the Benin Cycling Federation has made arrangements with the Benin Ministry of Sports so that donations can arrive without taxes or bribes. What started as a series of articles on the team’s history and ambitions has naturally grown into a multi-national campaign.
Herby assures his readers “I write these articles to highlight the determination of the athletes, not to solicit pity or charity. However, these guys do need reliable equipment. If you would like to donate something, it will be put to good use. Whether it’s a whole bike, those tacky neon shorts you’re embarrassed to wear on the group ride, or used handlebar tape, your stuff will find a whole new life.” Contact Christoph Herby if you’d like to support the team. He asks that any material donations be accompanied by a cash donation to offset shipping costs.