My First Adventure in India

(Click on any of the photos in this post for a better look.)

I really had no idea what to expect. It was February 2003 and I was travelling to India with my friend Mark Simpfendorfer for the first time. We were invited by Richard Kahn, Senior Auxiliary Secretary of NWIA, The Bible Society of India. I was going to ride, Mark was going to capture our adventure on video.

Recently I was looking through some old photos and the memories of that amazing adventure came flooding back. Even though it was around fourteen years ago some memories are as fresh as if it was yesterday. At the time I was working for the Bible Society in Western Australia, coordinating the Bike for Bibles program. The plan was to lend a hand in starting some form of Bike for Bibles in India.

We flew into Delhi feeling apprehensive, but the moment that I walked out into the carpark of the international airport and saw a few cows wandering past I felt relaxed and ready for whatever we were about to experience.

A major part of our trip was a ride from Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, to Delhi. I had my trusty Mountain Bike. There were several young locals who joined me on their Indian bikes. The cycling was a lot of fun but the people we met and friendships we forged made our time there unforgettable.

When we rode into Delhi there was a huge ceremony at India Gate.

There were hundreds of school children among the crowd there to enjoy a number of performances from dancers and even Bollywood singer turned gospel performer, Vijay Benedict.

We were welcomed by many dignitaries and church leaders including the Chief Minister of Delhi at the time, Sheila Dickshit.

There was also a large media contingent waiting for our arrival.

The event was widely reported with articles such as the one below from the Hindustan Times.

Biking For The Bible, Olsen Has The Right Spirit
Meeta Mishra (Hindustan Times – February 2003)

Cycling down from Agra to Delhi threw a lot of surprises at Rodney Olsen, and traffic was not one of them. “Riding here is similar to that in Australia. We ride on the same side of the road. The highway between the two cities is wonderful. It took us three days to reach Delhi but it is a lot of fun because at every kilometre there is something different to see. What is striking about the people here is that they are so giving,” says the Western Australia coordinator of Bike For Bibles.

On his first visit to India, Olsen was here to lead the bicycle rally organised by The Bible Society of India, North-West India Auxiliary, to mark its Golden Jubilee celebrations. The rally was organised to promote peace and prosperity. Olsen and Mark Simpfendorfer, a video cameraman accompanying him, were felicitated at India Gate by chief minister Sheila Dikshit on February 8. The funds raised from the rally will go into spreading literacy in India. “This is also a way to strengthen the ties between Australia and India,” said the 39-year-old cyclist.

This is not the first time that Olsen has cycled down such a long distance, he has been part of Bike for Bibles Fund Raising since ’87 when he covered the ride from Perth to Canberra.

Olsen has also worked at Perth’s Christian Radio Station. As he packed to leave for his home country, the cyclist says the predictable: “I’d like to return and explore other parts of India.” He is, of course, welcome.

There were many other articles written about our ride. More than 15 newspapers carried stories on the event as well as a lot of attention from both radio and television.

That first visit gave me a real love for India and its people. I’ve had the opportunity to return a couple of times since then and I certainly hope I’ll make it back there again some time. It’s an amazing country.

As I mentioned, my great friend, Mark Simpfendorfer joined me on that trip and captured the trip on video and produced this short clip. Here’s the clip to give you a quick idea of the two weeks of that trip.

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Broadway Actor’s One Man Show

Bruce Kuhn has performed on Broadway in Les Misérables, and has toured with shows such as the highly acclaimed Chess. He’s also been D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Bruce is currently putting his experience and talent behind an very different performance. He’s touring parts of the world performing his one man show, The Gospel of Luke, which comes to Perth over the next few days as part of his Australian Tour.

… brilliant work. A riveting, inspiring look at the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus that will appeal to people of all faiths and even the uncertain. It is as witty as it is moving: you rarely see storytelling as compelling as this, and it goes without saying that the text is gorgeous. Kuhn’s energy and focus are remarkable. Change any weekend holiday plans you may have had so you can catch it. – Gail Westerfield. The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.)

He joined me on the phone this morning as part of my morning radio programme on 98.5 Sonshine FM. You can hear our conversation by clicking the play button on the audio player below.

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Get Your Bike Ready

bikeforbibles.jpgI’m sure you know by now that I’m less than two weeks away from riding from Perth to Albany to raise money for Cancer Council WA. If you haven’t had a chance to donate yet you can head to my secure donations page right now or click the SPONSOR ME button in my sidebar.

Now something specifically for those in the Perth area.

If you’re feeling inspired to ride for a good cause but you think that Perth to Albany might be a bit far, you can start training now to ride from Perth to Mandurah for Bike for Bibles. It’s a day trip of around 70 to 80 kilometres and you’ll find more information by clicking this link. Details are being finalised but now’s the time to commit yourself to being ready for the big day.

Spring has finally arrived so drag your bike out of the shed, pump up the tyres, and start getting ready for what should be an awesome day of riding with a great bunch of people. I need to check my calendar but I’m very tempted to sign up for this one.

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