Monday, January 28, 2013

Putting Ecuador on the Map! Bike Style…

There is absolutely no doubt that Ecuador is on the pro-bikers radar as some of the most epic single-track downhill trails in the world.  Bike Magazine journalists, Brice Minnigh,  and a group of pro riders headed down to Ecuador to check out the scene.  Within the group, Wade Simmions, known as the godfather of freeride mountain biking, ripped up the trails with a group of locals known as the cockroaches. 

“We had come to this country to experience the astonishing range of ecosystems--from glacial Andean volcanoes and high-altitude deserts to lush rain forests—and of course, to shred some of South America’s sickest singletrack,” explains Minnigh.   As the group explored the country north to south,  the locals (and I would like to include myself in this category) grew ever more hopeful and confident that Ecuador will become a model of bike adventure and activism. 

PEDAL is right on board with the bike pros.  We have created four epic short bike expeditions that do not only explore some of the most incredible landscapes in Ecuador, but pairs cycling with once in a lifetime cross-cultural experience.  Through community service, Pedal expedition members work and live within small rural societies.  We believe that if Ecuador is giving us these amazing opportunities to explore it’s rich scenery, then the least we can do is give back.  

Imagine descending from high Andean volcanoes through cloud forests, banana plantations and the spray of waterfalls to end your day eating dinner with the indigenous Tsachilas community.  After a night’s rest in the village, you wake up with your group to work on planting community gardens to help keep the village sustainable.  We do what the pros do, but add a touch more!

Check out our expedtions at:

We have added bike maps of every route we plan to explore.  For maps, just scroll down to the bottom of the page of the expedition that you are checking out.  For example:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Ingredients for Happiness

What makes you happy?  A question that many seek to understand and fulfill.  However, is there a universal answer?  Can we actually tap into the qualities that fill people’s lives with joy?  Absolutely!  I have recently watched a documentary entitled “Happy” that explores these very questions.  Based on research, this documentary delves into people’s lives across the world to discover the ingredients for happiness.

The documentary takes viewers on a journey from the bayous of Lousiana to the deserts of Namibia.  Brazilians, Japanesse, Northern Europeans and Indians are featured in the film.  Exploring the secrets behind this valued emotion, the researchers discover that our extrinsic values or goals such as money, image and status seem to be misinterpreted qualities of happiness.  In fact, these goals do not make up the ingredients of happiness at all.  Those of us who are dedicated to personal growth, relationships and our desire to help are the happiest.  Our interdependence with each other and nature create circumstances to be sublimely happy.  Amsterdam, statistically one of the most happy cities in the world, has more community living options than many other cities.  CO-OPS are very common and several locals choose to live where meals, common areas and recreation is shared among all the residents.   Researchers have linked high quality of life with communal living. 

As I watched the documentary, I realized that the intrinsic goals that people set for themselves are PEDAL’s very own principles.  The three intrinsic goals are 1) Personal Growth, 2) Developing relationships with others and 3) Desire to help.  If what makes people happy align with PEDAL For Change’s mission and principles, I would say that we are off to a pretty good start.  Through our adventures, PEDAL has come to believe that sharing, living simply, and being sustainable will be more environmentally friendly and will substantially affect people’s happiness.  Participating in group activities, sharing bicycle adventures, and living and working in foreign communities are all the ingredients mentioned on the list.  As I sit down and ponder our goals and mission, I am amazed how everything seems to be connected and that what is good for our earth is also good for us.