By Lawrence Casiraya
CEBU CITY, CEBU — His passion brought him to the remotest parts of the world but the same passion also fuels his desire to promote biking among Filipinos not only as a sport but as a way of life.
In 2008, German-born Jens Funk, who has made this southern city his home for years now, lived his dream of biking through Mongolia for six weeks (or a total distance of 1,800 kilometers). Last year, he and fellow “Bugoy Bikers” from Cebu cycled through Tajikistan, passing through the Pamir Mountains along the border of Afghanistan.
But Jens and his cohorts are not biking through some of the harshest trails on earth just for the heck of it. They sell every kilometer they accumulate on the Internet — which they openly document on their website — and the money goes to the Bike4U Foundation.
The foundation raises money to spend on bikes they donate to children in remote villages in the Visayas. The idea started around four years ago, around the same time he started writing his book “Cycling Philippines,” inspired by his bike trips across the country.
“During that time, I remember joining a cycling event in Ormoc (in Leyte province) and I saw these children who had to walk a really long way just to get to school. So I thought why not just give children bikes so they would never spend money to commute ,” he says.
His idea was supported by fellow bike enthusiasts in Cebu. It also gave him a reason to reconnect with friends in Germany who either donated money or sent him old bicycles.
Jens believes biking is the best way to travel while getting to know people and their culture . He and fellow Bugoy Bikers organize bike tours in the South.
His advice for people interested in taking up biking: “Look for a bike that you have fun with, not just the cheapest one you can find. Go to a bikeshop and talk to the people you find there.
Take it easy,start slowly and take a trip somewhere. Enhance yourself — and your experience — by taking another trip.”
Images courtesy of Mr. Jens Funk. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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