Now imagine that all you see is this
Take that scene, and place it on both sides of a highway that runs from Vancouver to Toronto, or London to Rome, or New York to L.A. That's Japan...right now. It's easy to shelve away the disaster for us in the West. After all, it's on the other side of the world. However, many of us have friends that are from there, or have lived there, or live there right now.
One of my neighbors raced DH over there for many years. Another friend is over there now racing and teaching bike clinics. I've had groups of Japanese over here riding. And one friend in particular has made Japan his home for several years, becoming an icon of mountain biking in the process.
Paul "Chizzer" Chetwynd is a Deep Cove original. He was part of the original core of Cove riders back in the early '80s, and raced in North America at the highest levels. If you rode the Shore in the mid to late 90's, you likely had some contact with Paul via the legendary Hilltop Superheat tires. Printed right on the sidewall, beside the red, yellow and green banner, were the words 'Advised by Paul'. Well, this is Paul.
After many successful years racing and running bike tours in Japan
, Paul has a family and deep ties to the country. He has seen the carnage and destruction first hand, and when he tries to tell me how it is, the note in his voice takes on a deep sadness which conveys so much more than the "Dude...it's just a mess," that is all the eloquence he can muster. It's overwhelming in scale.
To try to make a difference, Paul has chosen a charity and is coming back to BC to ride in the BC Bike Race to help raise funds for the many thousands of orphans that were created in this unprecedented disaster.
I leave it up to Paul to explain it further: THE TOHOKU KIDS PROJECT
It’s been two months since Japan was devastated by the Earthquake and the ensuing Tsunami. I as well as most of the world looked on in horror as events unfolded. It would be a lie to tell you all is normal here, slowly the country is recovering, but there has never been a disaster like this in recent human history and it will take time. Just last week we had a series of aftershocks that I felt even here at my house in Chino, Nagano Prefecture about 400 kilometers away from the epicenter. Still now the death toll rises, many are still without shelter; it will take a year just to clear away all the debris before people can think about rebuilding their lives.
Everybody here in Japan has tried to help, some have sent relief goods and others money. I gave some money last week and afterwards the young girl whose box I put the bill into bowed to me and with tears in her eyes started thanking me profusely. I am not worthy of her gratitude, I have lived here for 20 years and have definitely taken more than given. It’s easy when the people you live among are so kind. Now I have to step up and help. Nobody knows how many children suddenly became orphans on that fateful day; the schools did a wonderful job of getting kids out of harm’s way, a lot of their parents didn’t get out. Now we are just starting to realize how bad this situation is- these kids need help now and will need it for quite some time.
Some of you might know me or might know of me; my name is Paul Chetwynd. I got my first MTB in 1980, rode all over the North Shore before a lot of you were born, and haven`t looked back since. I raced on the NORBA Series back in the late 80’s and got offered a pro contract here in Japan. 20 years later I am still here with my wife and 2 small boys. I have met so many great people while riding my bike, both racing and now with my tour groups, now I am appealing to as many of you good folks as I can.
The BC Bike Race has kindly agreed to let me use their race as a publicity vehicle in my quest to raise money. I have chosen to try and help Living Dreams
as they are focused on the orphans and have been involved with orphans in Japan since 2001. Being based here in Japan and having the experience of working with the Japanese is something only those of us who have lived here or live here now can grasp the importance of. Please have a look at the above link then follow this link: Global Giving: Tohoku Kids
to make a donation.
Whatever you can afford, it is all appreciated by us here in Japan.
I personally look forward to the BC Bike Race
, it will be my second time riding in this event, by far the best race I have ever had the pleasure of competing in, and I have done a few. I look forward to meeting many of my friends along the route, please drop by the camp to say hello or give us a shout out on the course.
Live to Ride, Ride to Live,