Cyclist Rides from Lisbon to Istanbul to Raise Money for Charity and Promote Climate Awareness

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Cyclist Todd Miller in Lisbon (L) and Istanbul (R), the two ends of his cross-continental ride. Photos: Todd Miller.

Istanbul's small but dedicated cycling community rallied this week to help an American biker navigate the city's dangerous roads -- what he anticipated would be "one of the trickiest parts" of his 5,847-kilometer cross-continental journey from Portugal to Turkey to raise money for charity and awareness about climate change.It was a cold, damp, and blustery evening when long-distance cyclist Todd Miller and three Istanbul-based fellow riders -- including members of the Bisikletliler Derneği (Bicyclists Association), a group that works to improve conditions for cyclists in Turkey -- pulled into the city's traffic-clogged Taksim Square after riding 80 kilometers from the outlying town of Silivri. For Miller, it was the last leg of a trip that began looking out toward the Atlantic Ocean from Lisbon and ended with a view across the Marmara Sea to Asia.

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Todd Miller (C) and Istanbul riders at the European continent's edge. Photo: Halil Atalay.
Pedaling Around The World, One Continent At A Time
Miller was inspired to make the solo trek after biking across the United States with a group of cyclists. His TransEuropa 2011 ride picked up on the other side of the Atlantic and he already has a return to Istanbul -- as a starting point for a trans-Asia ride -- in his sights. "After cycling coast-to-coast [across the U.S.] in 50 days I didn't want to stop," Miller, a former television-industry professional based in Hong Kong, wrote on his blog. "By the time I reached the Atlantic Ocean I had an irrepressible yearning to continue pedaling around the world, one continent at a time."

For the European ride, which began in early June, Miler rode solo to raise money for Yaowawit, a Thai children's charity. Dismayed by the failure of government action on climate change at the Copenhagen summit, he also asked supporters to start creating "peer pressure [as a] powerful catalyst for change" by pledging to adopt one eco-friendly activity of their choice.

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Todd Miller's route across Europe. Image: Todd Miller.
Individuals Must Take Action On Climate Change
"Bicycling and the environment also go together, and I will champion a 'Go Green' message throughout my ride," Miller wrote on his blog before the journey. "I remain convinced that action on climate change has to happen at the individual level, because it isn't happening at the institutional level."

The 82-day, 16-country journey wasn't all serious business, however. Miller also sought to find the prettiest church in Europe (one in Dubrovnik, Croatia, got his nod) and the best pastries in Europe, eating his way across the continent "without guilt or shame." The winner? "In my estimation, it's a tie between Italian gelato and Iberian flan," Miller wrote at the end of his trip. "I'll take both."

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