Etincelle à l'envers... et en vélo !
9000 Km à vélo de l'Iran à l'Europe
This is what a group of young athletes, the three of them affiliated to the Iranian Cycling Olympic team, have accomplished in July, August and September 1999. Their means of transportation was not a colorful bus named Safar but brand new Peugeot bikes.
Left from Esfahan, located 300 Km South of Tehran, Mehrdad, Hamid and Ahmed pedaled during 9000 Km accross Turkey, then rounding up Europe, and riding back through the Balkans, Turkey and Iran eventually. The Iranian athletes were officially received by national branches of the International Cycling Union and by UNESCO commissions of the visited countries.
Their journey, organised by the Iranian Embassies, goes beyond the physical feat. Born in the desire to carry a message, it promotes 'dialogue between civilisations' (official policy of President Khameyni since its coming into power), support for children suffering under deseases such as cancer and hemophilia and a drug-free world.
The three athletes in their late twenties took part in official and unofficial meetings. With sparking eyes, Hamid describes the hospitality on the part of numerous individuals and families who, amazed by their journey, offered them places to eat and stay, new tires, personnalied saddles and other presents too big to be carried along on a bike and in three holsters.
A long preparation permitted the success of this journey. The small team spent numerous months indeed looking for institutionnal support and prospective sponsors.
They eventually harvested the fruits of this daring jounrney as numerous Iranian and foreign NGOs sponsored it, international companies such as Peugeot and Deutsche Telekom... as well as the famous 'Zam Zam' company, producing the popular Iranian 'Farci Cola'.
While Amid was describing this journey with a mixture of nostalgia and pride, he confessed that travelling had helped reach awareness as to how much he liked his country, in particular Esfahan, his native city.
A city where his project still make people dream, two years after, whereas numerous young men wish to live abroad, in Canada for most of them... wen they complete their draft... when they eventually receive a passport from the government.