We just made another loan to someone in the developing world using a revolutionary new website called Kiva (www.kiva.org). We support Kiva as we believe in their way of making the world a better place: not bound by religions or nations, non-profit. Kiva is about microfinance (small loans), not donations.
You can go to Kiva’s website and lend to someone in the developing world who needs a loan for their business – like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks. We even found somebody selling bicycles!
Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent – and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.
The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back. Then you can withdraw your funds or lend them to someone else. These are not donations, but small loans. Kiva’s loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.
It’s finally easy to actually do something about poverty – using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they’re using it for. And most of all, I know that I’m helping them build a sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.
Join me in changing the world – one loan at a time.
The Long Distance Cyclist (BikeTravellers) lending team!
We want to recruit you to my lending team, Long Distance Bicyclists. If you join our lending team, we can work together to alleviate poverty. Once you’re a part of the team, you can choose to have a future loan on Kiva “count” towards our team’s impact. The loan is still yours, and repayments still come to you – but you can also choose to have the loan show up in our team’s collective portfolio, so our team’s overall impact will grow!
Let’s show the world that Biketravellers care about the world 😀
What Is Kiva?
We Let You Loan to the Working Poor
Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.
Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.
The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding – not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can relend to someone else in need.
Kiva partners with existing expert microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them. When you do, not only do you get a unique experience connecting to a specific entrepreneur on the other side of the planet, but our microfinance partners can do more of what they do, more efficiently.
Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle, and what effect it has on the people and institutions lending it, borrowing it, and managing it along the way. To do this, we are using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.
How Kiva Works
Choose an Entrepreneur, Lend, Get Repaid
The below diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to a developing-world entrepreneur, and back.
1) Lenders like you browse profiles of entrepreneurs in need, and choose someone to lend to. When they lend, using PayPal or their credit cards, Kiva collects the funds and then passes them along to one of our microfinance partners worldwide.
2) Kiva’s microfinance partners distribute the loan funds to the selected entrepreneur. Often, our partners also provide training and other assistance to maximize the entrepreneur’s chances of success.
3) Over time, the entrepreneur repays their loan. Repayment and other updates are posted on Kiva and emailed to lenders who wish to receive them.
4) When lenders get their money back, they can re-lend to someone else in need, donate their funds to Kiva (to cover operational expenses), or withdraw their funds.
None of your loan gets used up by Kiva itself. They are paid by grants, donations of 3rd parties, including Lenovo, our laptop sponsor. 100% of your loan gets to the local microfinance partner.
- Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty, by Muhammad Yunus
This is a great introduction to microfinance – an easy read which tells, in his own words, the story of how Muhammad Yunus started Grameen Bank (one of the first microfinance operations which is now an independent bank in Bangladesh).
- The Economics of Microfinance by Beatriz Armendariz deAghion and Jonathan Morduch
Not for the weak of heart – this is a very in-depth book focusing on the economics of microfinance, which is used often as a college text book.
- The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, by Jeffrey Sachs.
Jeffrey Sachs has a 9 step plan to eliminate extreme poverty by the year 2025. Not directly related to microfinance, but directly related to the reason Kiva facilitates it.
- A Billion Bootstraps by Philip Smith and Eric Thurman
A bold manifesto by two business leaders, A Billion Bootstraps shows why microcredit is the world’s most powerful poverty-fighting movement-and an unbeatable investment for your charitable donations. A Billion Bootstraps explains how ordinary people can accelerate the microcredit movement by investing charitable donations in specific programs and then leveraging those contributions so the net cost to lift one person out of poverty is remarkably low.
Where and When
Where are you going?
- The plan is to cycle through America, from the North of Alaska to the South of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Note that America is not the same as the USA. We want to see America and the USA is one country on these two continents.
- Well, straight down is impossible, you would hit water already in Alaska, but even in a straight line is not possible. The fastest route would be more or less straight to Panama, fly or sail to Colombia, then down the west coast of South America, over the PanAmericana.
So how far is that, 16.000km, about 10,000 miles?
- It might be if you could go straight down. We think we will have cycled at least double that distance (about 35000km) as we want to visit every country on the mainland, so including all the small countries on Central America and all the larger countries in South America.
How much do you cycle every day?
- Usually between 50 & 100km, depending on the wind, road surface, health, bike problems, interesting places and people.
- We will not cycle every day, we will take longer rests in interesting places, so our average will likely be around 50km/day or even less.
How long will this trip take?
- We think about 2.5 years, give or take a few months.
Why 2.5 years, why not 2 or 3 years?
- We have to start in Alaskan summer, so July (June is considered Spring, August Fall, the rest is winter in Alaska). As the Southern hemisphere has reversed seasons and we want to arrive in summer as well, we need either 1.5, 2.5 or 3.5 years. 1.5 is too fast, 3.5 a bit slow…
Who & what
Who are you?
- Ivana Coria from Argentina & Harry Kikstra from the Netherlands. you can read some backgrounders and links to our other projects and websites on the about page.
Argentina & The Netherlands? So where did you meet?
- In Tibet. She was cycling from Malaysia to India, I was climbing Mt Everest. We got engaged two years later on the summit of Kilimanjaro, 3 weeks before the start of this cycle trip.
Tibet? Kilimanjaro? Eh, ok. So you like travelling. Where else have you cycled before?
- Ivana has made one very long trip: first around New Zealand, then from Malaysia to India, passing Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, China, Tibet & Nepal on the way. Then she cycled for a month in Turkey and has also cycled in France.
- Together we cycled in Italy for a month.
- I (Harry) was raised in the Netherlands, so was practically born and raised on bicycles. Previously I have not made any very long cycle trips, but have done some shorter touring of 2-3 weeks per trip (Belgium – Normandy – Jersey -England; Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland – Scotland; Amsterdam – Zermatt on a tandem).
What bicycles do you use?
- We ride on the perfect travel bike: Dutch made to order Santos Travel master, aluminium frame, 26″ wheels. Tubus racks and Ortlieb bags see for more details the gear pages.
How does this website work?
- well you found the FAQ, so you seem to have some idea already. On the homepage you see 4 tabs with a photo and shortcuts to the last 4 posts.
- You can check older trip reports in may ways: check archives, trip reports, search for words, browse by categories (the second/lower top menu) or use the tags system, which is a bit more detailed than the categories.
- You can contact us through the contact form and we love feedback on our posts, so please leave some comments when you read the posts. You will be asked to verify that you are a human being (and not a spam robot) by typing some random code. Though this might be difficult and annoying, it saves us hours of time and helps to control spam.
Will you write reports every day?
- We will try but already know that it will not be possible as we will be too tired, to grumpy, too out of battery power, or too far away from any internet connection. So likely we will write in batches, whenever we have a few hours or day off and post them when needed.
So do I need to check every day to see if you updated something?
- No, you can make it much easier to follow us: either add our RSS feed to your feed reader, so you get a notice when a new feed is available
- If you have no idea what RSS is, just subscribe to our mailinglist and get a maximum of one email every day new updates are posted. You can do this on every page, see the box at the right side, near the top of the page or just click here.
- World On A Bike .com is just easier to remember and to tell people. It automatically forwards to the real website which is located at harry.biketravellers.com. On http://BikeTravellers.com everybody that cycles can open a free weblog (yourname.biketravellers.com), try it yourself, many others have already done so.
Where are Ivana’s reports?
- Ivana prefers to write in Spanish, so her website is http://ElMundoEnBici.com . Note that this also is just an easy to remember shortcut, it forwards to http://elmundoenbici.biketravellers.com .
- Do not forget that our penguin friend Pablito is also joining us and he makes his own reports as well, sometimes in English, mostly in Spanish, check out his website here: http://Pablito.biketravellers.com
What are those ‘Google Ads’ I see on many pages?
- These are small advertisements, supplied by Google. We do not choose them, the content is based on the content of the page, so a page about Alaska will give you ads about Alaska tours or land. It might show things we do not support, like drilling for oil in Alaska.
- Every time somebody clicks on them, we get a few cents, which helps to pay for our website costs. So if you are interested in the ads, please check tem out as you are helping us.
- Do not just click a lot of ads just to help us, as Google might ban our account if some people repeatedly click our ads from the same computer/IP address. So only check the ones that are interesting to you.
How & costs & support
How can you afford such a trip?
- We spend much less than you think, we saved some money the past years and might make some more on the way.
So, how much will you spend?
- North America will be the most expensive: until we reach Mexico, we will spend about $15 per day (together). This means less than $3000 in the first 6 months.
- Then from Mexico down it will probable be less than half of that.
- In total should be less than $10,000 together for the entire trip.
That is less than my parents spent on a luxury 2-week safari trip last year! How come you can live so cheap?
- We do not need much. We have our tent, so we do not need to pay for hotels. We camp out in the wild or at people’s lawn’s, so do not pay for expensive campsites. We will stay in cheap hostels in cities -in central America, you can get these for a few dollars-, but will also do a lot of Couchsurfing/Hospitality clubbing/ WarmShowering: staying with people for free, in return we will host them later.
- We cook ourselves, so all we need is some pasta, some veggies and some candy bars to get us through the day. We drink water we get from people or take it from streams and purify it with our Steripen. We recharge our batteries using our SolarSupra solar panel. We never buy bottled water, that is a waste of money and plastic.
- We do not have an expensive taste and have no space for souvenirs on our bikes, so all we take home are pictures and memories.
- Our sponsors supplied us with most of our gear, so we had little costs up front.
It is still a lot of money, don’t you have any other costs as well?
- We do not have kids, we do not have a car and have no debts, we never bought and will not buy anything we cannot afford. We have a house, but that is rented out so almost pays for itself.
- So things we need to pay are: food & drinks. Sometimes camping fees (mostly we camp in the wild or on people’s lawns); Internet connections along the way, spare parts for our bikes; replacements for clothes we wore out; park fees; visa fees; entry fees for places we want to visit etc.
- It is hard to plan exactly how much we will spend, but we want to see things along the way and will buy some dinners or breakfasts along the way when we are too tired or lazy to cook or think we deserved it after cycling another 1000km or a tough day. Basically we are on a tight budget, but will not let this stop us from enjoying the places we visit.
Is there any way we can support your trip?
- Yes! Many ways, first of all you can sign up for our newsletter or RSS feed. Forward them to others that might enjoy reading travel stories, stories about people and culture, cycling, environmental issues, America.
- Leave comments on the posts. We love to read them, they keep us going. Small notes from friends and strangers are huge boosts for our confidence and can help us through rough and difficult times.
- Just think of this website as a free interactive travel magazine subscription. If you enjoy reading our stories and seeing our photos, you can thank us by donating some money using the form on the right side of every post and page, using PayPal or credit card. Every small amount is welcome, just think what you would spend on a magazine or book.
- Check out the Google ads if there is something interesting for you (do not click them all just to help, see notes above).
- Link to our websites or specific reports or photos from your own website or blog. Add us to Stumble Upon, ReddIt, Digg etc. get the word out that it is possible to travel by bicycle!
- Invite us to speak in your town. We can give presentations about our trips, about climbing the 7 summits, cycling Asia, Bike Travelling or a photo presentation of the culture and nature of the 7 continents . We can charge admission fees or just ask for donations. We love to tell about our trips and spread knowledge about cycling and the environment.
- Buy something from our shops, see the links above. We get a small percentage of every item sold and you promote cycling!
- Invite us for dinner or to stay at your place or recommend addresses to sleep (friends, family) or even just places to pitch our tent
- Start cycling yourself!
We are now several days on the road and have some time to write some proper reports. Frankly I am amazed I can type this, as I was sure that the constant bumping of our bikes and bags over the very rough roads would have destroyed Lenny (Our Lenovo X300 laptop), but surprisingly it still works as always, long live the solid state harddisks. If you can actually read this, then it means it has survived all 2 weeks of Dalton Highway, one of the most infamous pieces of dirt road in the world…
But let’s go back a few weeks, back to the lowlands and share our journey with you in words and images.
I am not sure if it is me (us) or is there just no way to properly prepare for a 2.5 year trip? We had been planning since a year ago and still many things had to be done in literally the last minute. At least you can get a lot more done if you use the 8 hours we normally waste on sleeping on working and preparing
As our house was already rented out, we moved back and forth between my mom’s house and Romke & Anouks place. R&A have two wonderful kids and they were happy to assist in sorting out all the gear we received from our wonderful sponsors, this is Kira, checking out the Ortlieb and Carrera gear that Jacobsons sent us.
and this is how part of their livingroom looked during their vacation:
Thanks again, Romke & Anouk & Kira & Jelte, we would not have made it without you.
We took the train up North to say goodbye to my Mother and Sister. By the way, in The Netherlands we have a great railway system, which will get you everywhere in no time. of course people like to complain about the train service, but i think it is perfect, there are even a lot of special spaces for bicycles in every carriage, very useful to do some last minute fine-tuning:
My Mum helped us with some last things and we even managed to make a mess in her place. She was very sad; even though I have been away for many months at a time in the past, this will be the longest period away so far.
My sister lives close and we also visited her to say goodbye. We had a nice dinner at a organic Indonesian restaurant in Assen, with great food and service and we could even park our bikes inside. As with my mom, she was in tears when we waved goodbye from the train, but again somehow I was not sad, maybe we will see each other soon again.
Ivana had already said goodbye to her family in March, when she came to Amsterdam. But thanks to the wonders of skype and broadband Internet, she had been talking/videoconferencing with her mum and sister (that almost have the same names as mine) every evening for hours, while packing and sorting stuff.
Going on all these adventures is selfish in a way as we are worrying our friends and family. But I think we can repay their concerns and affection with stories and images and knowledge that we are following our hearts.
ps: we also had a nice going away slash b-day party, but i will post the images in a separate post once we find the images again
Nowadays a cycle trip is so much more than just a way to go from A-B. We make photos, maintain blogs, and film. All this digital material can get lost, broken or stolen, the nightmare of a photographer/filmer & writer like me.
I do have a small external harddrive, but likely it will get broken or stolen together with the gear it was trying to back-up. If you have sensitive data (who hasn’t?) the first thing to do is to download security software to Lock folders in Windows Vista, XP, NT, ME and 98 – this will prevent stolen data/drives being abused.
But then you still lost it yourself, so you will also need an additional back-up. After searching (and testing a few that did not work very well) I found the easiest and best online back-up solution.
Michael Fisher from ElephantDrive was intrigued with our trip and offered me a free Elephant drive for a year. I love how the system works and how you can just use your online drive as if it was part of your laptop.
I have no problem making some more promotion for it as it is a great solution for everybody and I definitely think that ElephanDrive is the best there is.
ElephantDrive is a simple, secure, and powerful online backup and storage service. Here is how it works:
First – Create an Account
You begin to use ElephantDrive online backup and storage first by creating your
Second – Download the ElephantDesktop
Once you’ve created your account, download the easy-to-install
Third – Access and Manage Your Data
You can use the ElephantDesktop to quickly, easily, and securely upload or backup your files and folders.
Your uploaded files are protected by strong encryption and stored in hardened, professionally managed datacenters with state of the art security and environmental protections. You can access your files from
anywhere in the world, at anytime.
My hard drive failed. I freaked. I had all the pictures and video of my
son on that computer. Thank God for ElephantDrive – I was able to get them all back.
— Inge I.
Marina Del Rey, CA
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Lenovo is part of IBM computers. Their Thinkpad series is well known all over the world. When researching our optimal road warrior’s laptop, we stumbled upon a pressrelease announcing the new X300. It was light (3 pounds/1.5 kgs), had a solid state disk (so no spinning harddisk), but still managed to pack 3 USB ports, a DVD-reader/burner, a 1400x900px screen, 2gb RAM, a core duo processor, a fingerprint reader, an integrated webcam and much more under the hood (go here to see a full list of specifications). Connectivity is important and the combination of a HSDPA modem, WIFI and an Ethernet connection will be vital for us.
We noticed Lenovo also in another positive way. They are leaders in green computing:
Read more about the green program below.
When Bernie Pruissen, head of Marketing Europe, heard of our plans, he immediately supported us as lenovo is dedicated to ‘green computing’. The result: Lenny, our faithful recipient of thoughts and rants and hardworking processor of photograps and videos. This is what others say about Lenny
Beyond thin and light
Lenovo’s amazing new ThinkPad X300 ultraportable notebook is the thinnest ThinkPad ever – less than
19mm at its thinnest. It’s light too, just 1.4 kg.
But the X300 is more than ultra-thin and ultra-light. It’s
ultra-functional, too, thanks for available performance and convenience
features like these:
|Integrated DVD burner – Hard to find in an ultraportable
Extended-life batteries –
Easy connectivity –
Convenience – 3 USB ports, line in/line out, and more
components on the X300 include Solid State storage drives (with no moving parts, they consume less power and are considered less likely to break down than traditional hard drives). The X300 also offers several wireless connectivity options including integrated Wireless WAN and Wlan.
Style-wise, the X300 is closer to the size of an actual paper notebook than a ThinkPad notebook has ever been. And it offers numerous design flourishes including a glossy bottom bezel, select illuminated buttons, and – for the first time in X Series – an integrated camera option and stereo speakers.
|‘Greenest’ ThinkPad ever|
|In addition, ThinkPad X300 is the first Lenovo notebook rated EPEAT Gold
for low energy use and minimal impact on the environment. It also
meets the European Union’s Reduction of Hazardous Substances
standards. And it is Energy Star 4.0 qualified.
The X300 uses 25% less energy than previous X Series models. What else makes the ThinkPad X300 so “green”?
Why choose energy efficient products
Environmental issues are becoming important to organisations and individuals alike. Energy efficient choices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save energy costs for the user, without sacrificing features, style or comfort.
Lenovo’s role in combating climate changes
Lenovo is committed to providing environmentally responsible, energy-efficient technology choices. In 2007 Lenovo joined the Board of Climate Savers Computing to support the efforts in reducing the IT CO2 emissions by 50% by 2010¹.
Move your mouse over the arrows to learn more
|This is how we do it:
Our end-to-end solution
Lenovo in partnership with our alliances offer a complete environmentally responsible solution from buying back and recycling customers’ old PCs to providing them with new energy efficient Lenovo systems that help reduce energy consumption and electricity costs.
Energy efficient products
Lenovo has a range of energy efficient EPEAT Gold systems and monitors to suit the requirements of different types of customers.
A small office network of just 2 PCs can use as little as 130 kWh or as much as 1300 kWh annually³. Consider the environmental impact and achievable cost savings by switching older generation PCs to the Lenovo Energy Star 4.0 compliant products.
By choosing to purchase more energy-efficient PCs, consumers and organisations can do their part to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change while also saving money.
A trip like ours needs a few basic things: first of all determination, but close second is good gear. It is no use trying to make do, for a good trip, you need good material.
Without the help of the following people and companies the trip would not have been possible. They have not only supplied us with the best gear available, but also have kept us focused on our first goal: to get started! Most if not all of the people are cyclists or sportsmen and -women and they have not just donated their products but also their time and enthusiasm, which is priceless .
- First of all our bicycles. No compromise here, we wanted the best as we will test them to the max. The only suitable solution is Santos Bikes. Our machines are the best and totally custombuilt. Please read more about Santos and its owner Robbert and their custom configuration tool here.
- A great new laptop, almost designed for our wishes was supplied by Lenovo laptops
- Outdoordacht has sponsored all types of gear, with the solarpanel being the ultimate green-travel tool
- There really is only one brand of panniers: Ortlieb. Their importer Jacobsons has worked hard to help us with all gear needed
- Gecko climbing is the importer of Carinthia, together they have supplied us with great sleeping bags and down jackets, to fight the harshweather of Alaska and Canada
- Mario Wolff is the importer of Vertical and has set us up with great and very usable clothing
- WorldNomads has sponsored a year of health insurance, get yours here as well, it really is cheaper and better, we also use it for our Everest expeditions!
- Elephant Drive has sponsored a year of free use of the Elephantdrive solutions, really a weight off our shoulders to know our back-ups are safe.
- AdventureFood has supplied us with great tasty meals to survive the first two weeks in the wild of Alaska
- De VakantieFietser has helped us with advice, gear and a sense of humour to get us started in the right direction
We are still looking for financial support as our trip is very costly, not just our daily cost of living, but also internet access, server hosting etc. any donations are welcome, or if you want us to give special attention to our products (of course only if they are useful for cyclists!) contact us using the form above.
If you are interested in related products and links, check out the Google advertisements that appear on every page as you will help us at the same time