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Wood Bicycle Racing + Economic Development Via Cycling

Postby Dazzle on Fri 6/Oct/06 6:19am

Wooden bike racing, coffee, economic development, Tom Ritchey, Rwanda.

This post could belong is several forums. Mountainbikes, everyday bikes, but I have put it here in sustainable as its probably a best fit.

For those too young to know - Tom Ritchey is one of the fathers of the Mountainbike and despite having sold his company (Ritchey) to Specialized for a huge sum of money he still rides extensively, tinkers with design ideas and hand fabricates the occasional high end steel frame. Oh yeah, he used a chunk of that money to buy and large tract of land to mtb on.

You have to check out the photos of the wooden bikes - damn hefty looking things. And the bike Tom has designed for this aid project is pretty cool too.

Blatently taken from Velonews:

"I'm 49 and realized I'm halfway done," my former boss Tom Ritchey told me wistfully at Interbike. "What am I going to do with the second half of my life?"

His answer is Project Rwanda (, a development project designed to assist in lifting Rwandans out of the devastating financial conditions they find themselves in after their devastating 1994 civil war marked by tribal genocide and the deaths of nearly a million Rwandans in 100 days. At the heart of Ritchey's involvement is a new bicycle he is designing from the ground up to make transportation in general and transport of coffee beans in particular more attainable.

Ritchey just returned from leading a delegation to Rwanda in mid-September for the Wooden Bicycle Classic, a celebration of the ingenuity of Rwandans in answering their transportation needs by building solid wooden bicycles. Among others, former Tour de France riders Jacques Boyer and Alex Stieda joined Ritchey in the long trip to deepest Africa.

Among the events at the Wooden Bicycle Classic was a race on solid, hand-hewn wooden bicycles and another on single-speed race on steel bikes. The wooden bicycles have solid wooden wheels with pieces of car-tire tread nailed to them and more strips of car tires employed to provide suspension of the front end.

"They don't build these wooden bikes because they don't have bikes," says Ritchey. "They build them because they are so much stronger (for hauling heavy loads) than the steel bikes they have."


"The first time I came to Rwanda, I was amazed at the cycling talent I saw there and thought that these guys could be great bike racers," Ritchey said admiringly. "One guy hauled 220 pounds of water on each three-kilometer trip (and then rode back three kilometers with empty containers). He did 15 trips a day. That's 90 kilometers a day (carrying 220 pounds of weight for half of those). And he rode barefoot on bare pedal spindles."

Noting that the riders he had met in Rwanda, "didn't even know the mountain bike had been invented," Ritchey set out to come up with a bicycle-based, sustainable way for Rwandans to earn more and improve their standard of living. "All of Africa is on technology that doesn't exist in the first world. And they'll just stay there without business-driven, incentivized programs."

Noticing that one of the glimmers of hope in the country is the coffee harvest, Ritchey's personal project is to develop a bicycle painted and assembled in Rwanda that will haul coffee beans.

"Rwanda used to be penalized by the international coffee market for the low quality of its coffee," the framebuilder laments. "But over the last five years the quality has come way up through investment in training the growers on how to plant, when to harvest, and an infrastructure of centralized washing stations for the beans."

the complete velonews write up: ... 960.0.html

women on wooden bikes picture came from here: (easy sell to a certain segment of the forum) ... 2118/show/

Website with lots of info and pictures:
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Postby jeremyb on Fri 6/Oct/06 7:21am

What a fruit loop, but it seems to pull the hot chicks so...
" - New Zealand Cycling Forum"
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Postby Fraser on Fri 6/Oct/06 8:22am

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Postby dented on Fri 6/Oct/06 8:47am

That is well cool :cool:
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Postby Fraser on Sat 7/Oct/06 8:34am

Makes you want to go down to placemakers get some timber and crack out the bandsaw doesn't it.
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Postby isaacarus on Thu 12/Oct/06 6:49pm

thats not a knife....THIS is a knife....

oh wait

thats not a bike.....THAT is a scooter...
Member for: 12 years 8 months

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