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Environmental activist gears up for 6,000-mile bamboo bike ride

Published: 1st March 2017

Written by: James Marr

Kate Rawles will ride a bike made from grass grown in Cornwall to raise awareness about the loss of biodiversity. A bicycle made out of bamboo grown in Cornwall, UK will be ridden the length of South America by an environmental activist and adventurer raising awareness about the loss of biodiversity.The bicycle, which needs to be sturdy enough to carry Kate Rawles nearly 6,000 miles, is thought to be the first made from bamboo nurtured in the UK.Rawles will set off from Costa Rica in Central America in December, following the spine of the Andes to Cape Horn at the tip of the continent.

The frame of the bike was made by Rawles, from Cumbria, at the London-based Bamboo Bicycle Club, from canes cut from a large clump of bamboo at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

“As far as we know this is the UK’s first home-grown bicycle,” Rawles said. “We’re delighted to have built it, and to be launching it on this mountainous environmental adventure.”Rawles’ journey – which she has titled The Life Cycle – is a follow-up to another adventure, The Carbon Cycle, in which she cycled from Texas to Alaska. The Life Cycle will focus on climate change.She says that although the world may not yet be doing enough about it, most people understood the urgent reality of climate change. But biodiversity loss, which she says is every bit as important, is less publicised and understood.“It’s a hugely important issue, with real impacts for people and other species too. And there is so much we could be doing to help arrest what’s been called the “sixth great extinction”.

Mike Maunder, Eden’s director of life sciences, said: “We are very proud that our bamboo is being used for such an arduous adventure.“Bamboo is an incredible resource for humanity – it protects millions of acres of watershed and as a sustainable crop provides building materials, food and fibre. At Eden we are working to replace polluting and wasteful single use water bottles with multi-use containers made from bamboo.”James Marr, of the Bamboo Bicycle Club, said “Kate is a seasoned cyclist but I don’t think people have really travelled by bike until they’ve built one themselves.”