Lachlan Morton Shows Us the Way
The Tour de France was first run in 1903. Riders started each leg before dawn and went almost 300 miles each day on single speed bikes. They were self-sufficient. In 1913 Eugene Christophe carried his bike over 8 miles to a blacksmith shop. The son of the blacksmith operated the bellows while Christophe welded his broken fork at the forge. He was later disqualified for receiving assistance from the blacksmith’s son.
Today in The Tour everything is connected. The riders eat and sleep in relative luxury and are accompanied by mobile shops with mechanics, therapists, and chefs; except for Lachlan Morton.
Australian, Lachlan Morton did the Alt Ride for charity. World Bicycle Relief has given away 566,000 bikes to people around the world who need them for transportation. That mobility has changed the lives of 3.3 million people.
The official tour rides 4 to 5 hours each day. On his final day Lachlan rode 18 hours and arrived in Paris five days ahead of the peloton (pack of cyclists). He packed all his provisions on his bike including his sleeping bag. Fortunately, he wasn’t arrested for vagrancy, although a night in jail may have been more comfortable. He cooked food on a camp stove and had some food and drink at local establishments.
Lachlan’s Alt Tour followed the Tour de France route except Morton rode the transfers between stages instead of being shuttled. The regular Tour riders ride 2,121 miles. Morton rode 3,423. He climbed a total of 75,459 feet. All for charity.
Ah, charity. Another word hijacked in a world hostile to people like Lachlan Morton. Nobody has a sum deducted from a paycheck to buy a bike for an African farmer. Admirers of Lachlan’s achievements show their love voluntarily.
I went to Lincoln Junior High in Santa Monica. The surrounding junior highs sent their handicapped students there because it was more efficient to concentrate special facilities for a minority in one school. There was no special speech or instructions given to the students about our unique role. But if anyone needed help because of their condition nearly anyone nearby pitched in, carrying the wheelchair bound or leading the blind. Everyone felt great about our spontaneous arrangement.
Contrast that with an interview I heard with Senator Tom Harkin. The host and Mr. Harkin probably had sore hands from all the back patting because he “changed the face of America” with his Americans With Disabilities Act. It didn’t start there, of course. Decency and respect were being robbed by government long before.
It makes me wonder what people like Harkin do if a lady is about to enter through a closed door or a blind person looks like he might stumble on a curb. It’s pretty hard to get legislation passed for these immediate and individual situations.
Lachlan Morton has a unique skill and compassion that meet to provide inspiration to all of us showing that extra effort can help us overcome obstacles and get what we want. That is one aspect. World Bicycle Relief bicycles giving mobility to thousands of appreciative people around the world is just the tip of the iceberg. We all have what Lachlan Morton shows us, an opportunity to help.