This article about TransAmerica 2010 appears in the current issue of Time Out Hong Kong:
Almost 6000 kilometres, 50 days, and nine American states on one bicycle – this is how Hong Kong resident Todd Miller is choosing to spend his upcoming sabbatical from his day job.
On Sunday June 20, Miller will embark on a gruelling coast-to-coast bike ride that will see him cycle around 120 kilometres a day, and hopefully raise US$30,000 along the way. “There’s a certain unreality to the thought of cycling across a continent. I guess I like that romantic idea,” Miller muses. Not only does Miller get to achieve a lifelong dream of cycling a transcontinental tour, but he is also “peddling with a purpose” to raise funds and awareness for the children’s charity, A New Day Cambodia (ANDC). The non-profit organisation currently provides accommodation, food and education for about 100 garbage dump scavenger children.
In a nation that has been ravaged by civil war, genocide and occupation, these scavengers are the poorest of the poor. Many children are forced by their families to work in deplorable conditions, walking barefoot over glass and rummaging through waste. ANDC works to take these kids out of the dumps and provide them with an education with a strong emphasis on English language skills, an entitlement typically reserved for the middle class in Cambodia. Miller elaborates, “English is a valuable asset in Cambodia, which will be productive when the children become independent and support not only their immediate families but hopefully generations, taking a whole stream of families out of the poverty cycle.”
Miller discovered ANDC through a friend’s recommendation, after being overwhelmed by having to choose from an abundance of equally deserving charities. He then took a trip to Cambodia, where Miller met every one of the 96 kids that are supported by ANDC. He recalls, “It’s very easy to become saddened by poverty in abject conditions, but I left Cambodia feeling really optimistic. Almost every child expressed professional ambitions. That to me was so uplifting and inspiring. After touring the municipal dump from which they came, one just had to marvel at the contrast.”
Miller is determined to make a long-term commitment to ANDC, though he admits he has to take one step at a time and get the bike tour over with first. Though he has been distance cycling for years, he has never attempted a tour as colossal as going from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast, a feat which leaves his training routine of cycling back and forth between Pok Fu Lam and Shek O pale in comparison.
Once the tour is over, Miller plans on building more of a presence for ANDC here in Hong Kong, speaking to groups about the organisation, and more importantly, he adds, “speaking about fulfilling a life-time goal and doing something crazy like taking a sabbatical, just like I am.” How exactly did he score two months off work to go cycling? “Begging and grovelling usually helps,” Miller jokes. “What I’ve learnt is that sometimes all you need to do is ask. On many occasions, people are intimidated to ask for something and that restricts opportunities.”
You can read the article online at http://www.timeout.com.hk/big-smog/features/34785/hongkonger-todd-miller-philanthropic-pedaller.html