Matador Ambassador Shannon Galpin recounts her mission transporting a truckload of gear to Afghanistan for the country’s national cycling team.

What? You thought bringing 6 bikes and over 350 pounds of cycling gear to Kabul would be difficult? Nah, we got this. After bringing over the entire Streets of Afghanistan exhibition last fall, this was a piece of cake.

Of course, we didn’t raise enough funds to get all of our donated gear over in one go, and my landlord has already told me that more has arrived at my doorstep since I left. Luckily, I think I’ve found another solution to getting more equipment into Afghanistan to support these teams, so the gear drive may ramp up upon our return.

Welcome to episode 2 of “Hoarders,” as my home becomes a storage depot yet again!

Photos by Claudia Lopez, video by Matador Ambassador Sarah Menzies

1

Again? Really?

First step was a three-truck convoy to Denver International Airport. Luckily, the woman at check-in remembered me from four months earlier when we came through with 40-some bags as part of the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition. She just shook her head and said, smiling, "Again? Really?"

2

Boxes in Kabul

Amazingly, all the bags arrived through DC, Dubai, and into Kabul, where five willing porters helped gather up all the boxes, some quite worse for wear after the long journey.

3

One minibus load

We walked through the parking lots to find my long-time fixer and translator, Najibullah, and a minibus to take us back to our guesthouse. Najibullah smiled when he saw me and all the luggage, and like the Denver airline representative said, "Salaam, Shannon. Are we doing THIS again?" I said sheepishly, "Yes, Najib, but I promise it won't be like last time. We only have to load the minibus one time, not 20," knowing that he, too, was remembering the chaos of the Streets exhibition.

4

Guards in the guesthouse

All the bags were checked at our guesthouse, and the guards smiled big at the sight of all the helmets and the bikes -- they have seen my mountain bike more than once and have even watched me take off on a couple early-morning Kabul rides in the dark. They also asked if I'd be bringing my motorcycle that I usually keep in the courtyard, and were disappointed when I told them no, as one or two of them like to take it for a spin around the block. They aren't surprised by much of anything I do anymore.

5

Sorting gear

The next day we sorted the boxes of jumbled men's and women's gear, reloaded the minibus, and headed out into the Kabul traffic to deliver it to the newly founded Afghan National Cycling Federation office.

6

Delivery

A huge and massive thanks goes out to Osprey Packs, Liv/Giant, Giro, Skratch Labs, Boulder Cycle Sport, and all the amazing individuals and bike shops that made this possible! It was pure joy to deliver the boxes to the coach and give him and his team an inventory.

7

Specifics

Inside, I explained some specifics about the donations from Liv/Giant and Skratch Labs, and about the plan to bring over additional bikes for Coach Sediq and his staff. When I asked what was specifically needed, we came up with this list: pedals, cleats, standing pumps and tools, tubes, tires, wheels, bikes, bikes, and more bikes. We have wheels ready to roll out thanks to Inertia Racing.

8

Support

Now it's up to us to continue to support the team with equipment and donated gear. More than that, or perhaps simply, in addition to that, we need funding to support their racing, travel, and major next steps, which I look forward to sharing with Matador as we formulate the plan.

9

The team

Huge thanks to everyone for making this possible and bringing major smiles to the faces of Afghan women and men. For now...here's a sneak peek from the start of their last training ride, with the women proudly wearing new jerseys and helmets from the gear delivery. Prouder than proud of the cycling community for their support. Much more to come, and you don't want to miss it!