Riding bikes and inspiring the youth, a group of young riders in Afghanistan is popularizing BMX/Mountain Biking and trials riding, against all odds. It’s not just the boys following their love for the sport, the girls are powering through the barricades as well! Freerider Mountain Bike Magazine brings you this exclusive feature from Kabul, Afghanistan!
Meet Asghar Mehrzada, 21, the founder and Leader of Drop and Ride. Started riding bikes when he was 12 years old and has been focusing on BMX, MTB and trials since 2015, eventually starting the Drop and Ride Club in 2016.
FRMTB: Tell us something about the riding scene in your country?
Asghar: Riding in Afghanistan is an enjoyable experience in spring, summer and autumn. A lot of people mostly the youth like it but the government is not very supportive of this sport and on the other hand the society does not accept woman riding bikes because of cultural beliefs. Riding our bikes on the streets gets very challenging and unpredictable because of suicide attacks and bombings
FRMTB: What does Drop and Ride stand for?
Asghar: The name “Drop and Ride” means Drop the Guns and Ride a Bike. It was founded with the main objective of promoting Gender Equality, Peace and Democracy amongst the youth through cycling rather than guns and weapons. Every Friday our team (Boys and Girls) go out on the streets of Kabul promoting the culture of cycling to all the people. We share this message with everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, gender and the place they come from. No matter the gender everyone has the rights to do sports and cycling. This is the message that we want to spread.
FRMTB: What inspired you to start “Drop and Ride”?
Asghar: One day while watching Danny Macaskill on Youtube. I saw him do cool tricks and wanted to try and learn how to do them. There were also no bikes available to this kind of stuff. On the other hand I was a member of Skateistan in Kabul. I also noticed that there were nice facilities for skateboarding but hardly any facilities for cycling at our disposable. This inspired me to start a facility similar to skateistan but for bikes that would benefit and give hope to the youth in conflict driven areas and this is how the idea to start Drop and Ride was born.
FRMTB: What motivates you guys to ride inspite of all the political tension in the region?
Asghar: Cycling with friends is a unique experience. We enjoy training together inside or outside the club focusing on the joy of riding, completely immersing in the moment and forgetting our daily struggles.
FRMTB: Could you share some details on the recent developments at Drop and Ride?
Asghar: Recently, Drop and Ride received a container filled with Bikes, a container to be used as store, Bike Gears, Ramps, Helmets, Safety gears, Bike Parts and Clothing as a donation. We are very happy and are very thankful to all the people who were involved with this project to support Drop and Ride in Europe. Moritz Kistenfeger and his friends took the initiative to organize and execute this project. They collected all the donations, found supporters and sponsors for this project. we would also like to thank the “Flying Metal Crew” for building the ramps, Rämu Hunziker and Chris Shirley for having raised the funds for the transportation and customs and making this possible. Apart from the above mentioned people we are thankful to many others who have supported this project.
FRMTB: Where do you see Drop and Ride in the future?
Asghar: My vision for Drop and Ride is to make it an International Organisation that serves the people of Conflict areas around the world and bring a smile on their faces. Living in these areas most people are under pressure and uncertainty where nobody knows when there would be a suicide attack or bombing. Through Drop and Ride I would like to give hope to young boys and girls of Kabul that there is more to life than guns and bombs.
FRMTB: What are some of the international events that members of Drop and Ride dream to attend one day?
Asghar: The members of Drop and Ride still need some development training and courses to become professional riders. But we would like to attend BMX freestyle competitions, Mountain bike races and Dirt Jump competitions like Joyride etc.. For us, attending any International event in cycling will be a dream come true.