Coming home through Tijeras Canyon after a lunch ride I did a double take. There was some kind of vehicle taking up the entire shoulder, a carriage with three wheels and dual flags waving. I was curious so I turned around to say hello. The traveler was named Chen, and he is driving his Chinese rickshaw across America, heading to Washington D.C. and New York City, then onward to South America all the way down to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Chen caught the Olympic spirit in 2008 when he drove his rickshaw from his farming village to Beijing. He spent three months picking up trash to uncover the inherent beauty in his home country. The unity spirit for the Olympics absorbed Chen so he went ahead and kept up the journey by driving his rickshaw from his home in China across Asia and Europe to London for the 2012 Olympics. Now he’s heading for Rio. His payoff is he gets to be part of the opening and closing ceremonies, he hopes, and he lights up a lot smiles doing it. Plus he sees the world.
I think the market for this spirit based ambassadorship is huge. The world needs more of this. Chen doesn’t speak much English but his effort, smile and open spirit told me everything. We exchanged cards and I learned more about his journeys through his website and articles (linked below). Chen’s journey is proof you can do anything imaginable. You can change your life with purpose. Largeness is endemic to Chen’s cycling journey even though his vehicle is very simple and his daily progress is humble. Cycling’s approachable nature has the amplitude to appeal to people across the globe.
Once Chen gets further east he’ll have more flat going across the high plains of eastern New Mexico and into Texas. The red earth of Oklahoma gives way to the slow rolling hills of the Ozarks, and then flat again across the bottom lands of the fertile Mississippi. He’ll experience the sweet landscape, every mile. Chen will have to traverse the ancient Appalachians before heading into the summer humidity of coastal Washington D.C. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on a morning show in New York City. One of his websites already says “as seen on TV.”
If Self Reliance is the American way, then Chen will surely be at home on the US leg of his journey. Out there suffering courageously in the open. And exuding joy, the other side of the same coin. Chen’s journey is a metaphor for international relations, like the strongest Olympic stories can become. Chen gave me a spark of the Olympic spirit. Hardly any words were spoken. He’s just doing it. Safe and happy journeys and see you in Rio Chen!
References and Links:
(full list of media and video interview at this website, hosted by a philanthropic Englishman)