In the summer of 2009, Charles Scott, a middle-aged corporate executive, and his 8-year old son, Sho, left their home in New York City to ride connected bicycles 2,500 miles the length of Japan. Telling skeptical friends, “A child can accomplish a whole lot more than many people think,” the two mapped out a 67-day route that stretched from the northern coast to the southern tip of the mainland, passing through many of Japan’s most famous cultural sites and nature preserves.
Hoping to encourage efforts to combat climate change, they raised money for a global tree planting campaign, received press from around the world, and were named “Climate Heroes” by the United Nations (http://www.unep.org/wed/2009/english/content/climateheroes.asp).
Scott, 42, described the estimated $10,000 adventure as “a celebration of the bond between father and son, and a challenge to contemporary society’s notions of what is reasonable for a child to attempt.” Dismissing fears shaped by “a culture that is increasingly sedentary and mistrustful of the value of discomfort,” the pair cycled through uninhabited stretches of Japan’s northern wilderness, slept in a tent wherever they found themselves, navigated heavily populated, traffic-choked urban landscapes, struggled up and down mountains populated by wild monkeys, took on sumo wrestlers, meditated in a Buddhist temple, held hands in silence at Hiroshima Peace Park, made friends throughout the country, and explored the limits of quality father-son time.
The trip was almost entirely self-funded, with support from Intel which provided a mobile Internet device using their latest Atom processor and a wireless card that allowed Scott and Sho to stay connected and post blog updates throughout the country. Details from the adventure are at www.japanbikeride.com.
Scott and Sho have just announced their next bike adventure, scheduled for the summer of 2011. The pair, along with Sho’s 4-year old sister, Saya, will circumnavigate Iceland, a 1,500-mile (including side trips) fully self-supported trip on two connected bicycles and a bike trailer. They will use press coverage from the ride to encourage action to address climate change. The route and other logistical details are still being developed and they are currently seeking $10,000 in cash and in-kind support. (For more information: www.icelandbikeadventure.com).