Itís time for our annual asylum sponsored PR for International Friendship Tour 2009
. For those unfamiliar with this project--this is an occasion for us to pool resources in order to bring a brother moto-adventurer from a distant land, to North America. Fellow earth rider Pete from Berkeley and I initiated this program two years ago after several discussions regarding how while traveling we had discovered that motorcyclists worldwide, no matter the politics, culture or language differences, were part of a larger family of fanatics sharing a common passionóadventure motorcycling.
Two years ago, we invited our first victim, renown moto-adventurer ChanderJeet
(CJ), from India and the following year, a man famous for aiding international riders passing through Siberia, Shustrik
(Alex) from Russia. Among other components of our selection process is to chose a rider from a developing country who would not otherwise be able to manage such a journey, and might also be of particular interest politically.
For an idea on our thinking, we considered people from Iran and Africa. After consultations with former longtime China resident CrazyCarl
, we decided that this years guest would be a noted veteran motorcyclist representing one of our planet's oldest civilizations, Mr. Lu Fei from Beijing, China. Lu is currently scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles, Wednesday, September 2, at 11:30 AM--and after a five-week ride with a route to be determined by Garth, depart from the same location, Saturday, October 24th at 1:30 PM. A contingent of local motorcyclists would be a nice welcoming.
With $2,000.00 left over from last year, we were able to purchase Luís $900.00 round-trip air ticket with enough cash remaining to keep him on the road for a few weeks. Still we need contributions via PayPal and as usual, a bike to ride. Iíll kick in the first hundred bucks, but donít be shy, $5, $10 and $20 accumulate quick so every little bit helps. Expenses are minimal as there are always more invitations for places to stay than our guests could ever enjoy.
As the process goes, Pete and I select a candidate based on a certain criteria and then approach that person with questions about their family situation, job, ability to read, write and speak English and most important, would they be able to qualify for a US visa? Once satisfied with the answers, we asked Lu to upload a few ride reports with pics to spark further interest here, and find out if he knows how to write, take pictures and post.
Form your own opinions: Ride 1 Ride 2
Followed by a formal invitation, came securing permission from a reluctant employer for a leave of absence, and then pitching the local US Embassy personnel for the often difficult-to-obtain, US Visa. In the past, and currently, this involves carefully crafting a letter of explanation addressed to whoever will make the final decision.
There are a number of wild-cards that can cancel a candidate, which is why we began the process approximately six months ago, to allow sufficient time to vet our man. As the green lights continued to flash, we broke our silence and brought Garth Tomic on board to handle route planning and general coordination. Subsequently he requested Direwolf to join the team as treasurer to establish a PayPal account credit card and to secure flight reservations. Since this event showcases collective effort and defines goodwill, once kicking things off, Pete and I will again step back and marvel at what this community achieves by working together. So far, you all have made us both darn proud to be members in a global community of like-minded lunatics.
We encourage participation at all levels, so please fire away with questions and comments. Garth will be along shortly with details on logistics.
Glen Heggstad/Peter Corboy