Pedalling with peace

Meeting with Marco Banchelli, teacher and cyclist, dedicated to unifying people

Peace Times 11

He has covered thousands of miles on his mountain bike from Kenya to China, carrying messages of hope written by his young students. A fatal attraction for the Royal Kingdom of Nepal

Marco Banchelli is a 43 year old physical education teacher from Florence in Italy, who has united his passion for the mountain bike with a commitment to world peace. From the saddle of his ecological transport he has been busy promoting a message of peace and union to people around the world. On his two wheels he has covered thousands of miles in different parts of the world, from Kenya to China, from Argentina to Australia. We met him in Kathmandu the capital of Nepal, where he revealed the secrets of his experience as a peace cyclist.

«I discovered the bicycle to be an extraordinary alternative to the stress of parking the car or crowded public transport. Moreover, in my line of work as a P.E. teacher, I found my students to be great partisans to my passion: I began to organise actual cycling expeditions to bring their drawings and their peace messages from one side of the planet to the other». Marco underlines: «Children worldwide are all the same and have the same needs and feelings, even if their living conditions are very different. This is why their messages are so universal. In a world where the little ones are influenced by movie war heroes, it feels good to be a tiny but peace hero to them».

A lot of his two wheel journeys took place under the flag of UNICEF and more recently that of the European Community: «The European flag was given to me by the Italian representative to the European Parliament». He is particularly fond of the Himalayas, but not only as he tells us: «Roberto Siviero having found out about my work gave me an aquatic bicycle which gave me the opportunity to ride the Arno River from Florence to Castiglioncello as well as pedalling on the low lakes of the Himalayas; an extraordinary experience».

Marco has received a great many awards for his activities as a peace cyclist: «The award I am most proud of is the one given to me by my hometown - as Honorary sports Consul. I am particularly happy to have been nominated a member of the Association for the Development of Sport in Nepal».Nepal, this very poor country is deeply in his heart: «Together with Father Sharma I am working on the creation of a school in Gorka: a school which goes beyond the boundaries of cast division. I am busy collecting sponsorships for Nepalese children». He concludes: «To cycle is basically a method to practise a discipline which is both a physical and inner training. The days when I don't cycle I feel that I am missing something. But, I seek daily to have positive thoughts; for example rejoicing in my sensory faculties that give me the opportunity to see the light of the sun and delight in the beauty of the world around me».

Tiziana Ciasullo - Carmen Iodice

previous page                                          next page