July 28, 2015—“We really encourage people to travel by bicycle—it’s one of the most affordable ways to travel, and allows you to experience a place while still moving,” says alumna Kyla McClure (C’14). As one of the co-authors of the blog There and Bike Again, she speaks from firsthand experience.
On May 20, McClure and her partner, Didier Jourdain, embarked on a journey to bike around the world. Over the course of a year, they’ll cover 22,000 miles, four continents, and 36 countries. After starting in Lisbon, Portugal, the two have since crossed through southern Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Turkey.
“I’ve always loved traveling, exploring, hiking, backpacking,” explained McClure, who majored in political economy and minored in justice and peace studies. “I want to see what the world has to offer and meet the living people who make up different cultures and regions. ”
So when Jourdain, who had completed previous cycle tours, suggested a trip around the world, McClure quickly got on board. The two set to work saving money, researching visas, acquiring the right gear, and following other cyclists who had made similar trips.
The pair also decided that their journey would serve another purpose: giving back. For every mile they travel, McClure and Jourdain hope to raise one dollar in support of Helping Honduras Kids (HHK) and/or One World Youth Project (OWYP)—two organizations that hold personal meaning for McClure.
HHK, a non-profit that is headquartered in the U.S. and has operations in Honduras, provides housing, care, and educational opportunities to children who have been abandoned, abused, and/or neglected. After high school, McClure spent six months as an HHK volunteer.
“I know many of the kids and have a very strong stake in seeing them succeed,” she said.
While at Georgetown, McClure worked closely with One World Youth Project, which partners with universities around the world to establish global service-learning opportunities for middle school students.
As McClure and Jourdain travel, they’re visiting OWYP partner universities wherever they can—they recently stopped in Kosovo for just that reason. They also plan to make a stop at HHK during another leg of the trip.
“Both programs provide amazing opportunities for kids, and it was a natural fit for me to continue to support them through my travels,” McClure said. “I’m learning so much from people around the world during this trip, [and] I’m happy to be giving back to the global community in some way.”
One of the other things McClure has learned is how much planning and fuel it really takes to carry oneself and a 50-pound pack around day in and day out.
“Once, we added it up and came to an alarming 4200 calories each for the day!” McClure said.
“But,” she added, “there’s something about reaching the top [of a hill]—and stopping to take your first real survey of the area—that is exhilarating, as you realize how far your own two legs have propelled you.”
McClure and Jourdain have also been bolstered by the kindness of others along the way, receiving dinner invitations, lodging, and frequent welcomes and waves as they make their way through small towns and country roads.
And for McClure, who’s passionate about education, this adventure goes beyond self improvement. Before leaving the U.S., she was accepted for a position with Teach For America in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where she’ll work to help change public school education and expectations for student achievement.
“Fortunately, they allowed me to defer my job for a year. I am very excited to be able to bring the experience I gain on this trip to my own classroom and students next year,” McClure said.
Part of that experience comes from getting off the beaten path—and McClure encourages fellow travelers to do the same.
“Take the time to head to the little towns—it opens up a new set of experiences that may leave you slightly out of your comfort zone,” she said. “You’ll have a deeper appreciation for the country and people you are visiting.”
Whether your dream is to travel or not, McClure encourages everyone—especially current students—to remain open-minded about every opportunity that may arise.
“You can learn from any situation you are in, even if it is just heading home for the summer to work,” she said. “Things tend to work out if you can stay positive and optimistic.”
Want to support their cause? Fundraising efforts will last until May 31, 2016, and sponsors can either donate an amount of their choice, or sign up to sponsor a full day of the trip; McClure and Jourdain’s goal is to raise a total of $1 for every mile they travel. To learn more or make a donation, visit their website.