One ride away: bikes of their own

"It’s independence. I know it’s mine, and I can take care of it.”

January 13, 2023

Mark Padun and Lachlan Morton wondered what more they could do for the young Ukrainian bike racers that Lachlan had met in Poland at the end of One Ride Away.

They kept coming back to the thing that had been most powerful in their own young lives: a bike of their own.

Lachlan had ridden over 1000 kilometres from Munich to the Ukrainian border and been humbled by the support he had encountered on his way, as people came out to ride with him and cheer him on and donated to his effort. Together, they have raised $300,000 and counting for Ukrainian refugees (You can still donate). But Lachlan could not stop thinking about the stories he had heard from those kids. They had escaped to Poland with their cycling coach and were being housed by cycling clubs with the help of the Polish cycling federation, but were still separated from their families and nearly everything they owned, bikes included.

Mark knows all too well what that is like. He had to flee his hometown of Donetsk in 2014 to escape a Russian attack. The same cycling coach who brought the kids Lachlan met to safety took him in. He could still ride his bike. During those difficult years, cycling gave Mark purpose and an escape.

“There were not many ways to escape all the stuff that happened,” he says. “I would just jump on the bike, go on a ride, do my training. With a bike, this routine, it would take me away from everything that was happening. This still helps me quite a lot.”

“Having a bike of your own is incredibly powerful,” Lachlan adds. “You can choose what you want to do with it, whether that's racing, whether that's commuting, whatever it is you're going to do on your bike. To have that for yourself is, for me, the most simple and most powerful thing that you can have.”

Lachlan and Mark spoke to Cannondale. CAAD 13s for each of the kids were soon on their way.

This fall, Mark and Lachlan travelled to Warsaw to help distribute them to the young Ukrainian bike racers that Lachlan had met in Poland.

They were taken aback by what the bikes meant to the kids.

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