ANKARA to Athens was the latest epic bike ride undertaken by Dartmoor’s Greenham family in its support for the humanitarian medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Michael Greenham, 53, his daughter Maggie, 19, and son Jordy, 15, completed the 2100-kilometre odyssey in about 30 days during April to June.
Epic bike rides are nothing new to the Greenhams, who rode 2400 kilometres from Rome to Rotterdam in 2007 to raise awareness of MSF. The family also completes a 450-kilometre ride from Mount Gambier to Melbourne each March for the organisation.
However, the family are not cycling zealots and didn’t spend every day on the road during the latest epic ride, stopping to enjoy the sights such as the Greek islands and spread the message about MSF during the two-month trip.
Mother Elly Greenham does not ride and travels on buses to the family’s next destination, acting as a support member.
Mr Greenham said he liked what MSF did, getting professional people to volunteer to work in crisis situations throughout the world. MSF not only provided support, it was also “the voice of the disenfranchised,” speaking out about the problems it encountered.
“They deserve our support,” Mr Greenham said.
Since he did not have a skill himself to contribute, Mr Greenham decided instead to raise awareness and funds for MSF’s work.
The annual Mount Gambier to Melbourne trip by the family, which began in 2007, have so far raised $15,000 for MSF.
The rides began with just Mr Greenham and a son and have since grown to about 20 people riding various stages of the trip this year.
Some of the highlights of the family’s latest trip included giving Auskick clinics at Turkish schools, being at Gallipoli for Anzac Day and working at an archeological dig in Albania.
Mr Greenham said the awareness raising campaign for MSF often involved chatting to locals who were intrigued by the unusual sight of a family dressed in lycra taking on the hilly terrain.
“We were a novelty.”
Teachers would often approach them at the family’s wayside stops and ask them to address pupils.
In Turkey, locals already had some understanding of MSF’s work because the organisation worked there helping people affected by the present crisis in Syria and during an earlier Turkish earthquake.
They received a friendly reception in most countries, particularly in Greece.
“In Greece they are very pleased to see any tourists,” Mr Greenham said.
“Tourism has dropped a lot. The locals are fearful the country is perceived internationally as having riots and food shortages.”
In Albania, which had only been a democracy for 15 years, people had been especially welcoming.
Mr Greenham said the overseas rides had been a great bonding experience for his family and had been timed for when one of the children had finished secondary school and doing a gap year.
The first odyssey in 2007 from Rome to Rotterdam was during a gap year taken by their son Billy and this year’s trip was during Maggie’s gap year.
More overseas forays are planned, with south-east Asia or North America possible destinations for the next trip.
As part of its awareness raising campaign for MSF, the family has a website: cyclingacrossborders.wordpress.com