Three Lebanese girls taking on the roads of Eastern Europe.
Updated: Jan 9, 2020
When I first heard about the “Lebanon on Wheels” project I was kind of intrigued and impressed by this initiative but never thought of actually doing it until Mivida suggested the idea to me.
The challenge was what triggered me the most and the reward at the end was what I was waiting for. Also, seeing the former cyclists coming to Lebanon with a lot of memorable stories to tell and with an immense satisfaction is what pushed me further.
As a volunteer and an involved member of the Order of Malta in Lebanon, I found this project to be different from the rest since it is challenging in a lot of different aspects. It really pushes you to your limits every single day and lets you discover a lot of new things about yourself.
As every cyclist has probably experienced, expectation is quite different from reality.
Almost a year in advance, we started our preparations; from planning our route to contacting sponsors and of course "physical training." Thinking that this would be the hardest part, we were very wrong. During the cycling, we had a lot of unexpected events. We had lots of rain coupled with freezing weather and wind that made us move backwards. When we complained we were rewarded with a 40 degrees slap in the face. Muddy roads, blocked roads, highways, cubblestone roads, we’ve faced them all!
Now you probably imagine that thanks to Google Maps, our itinerary was carefully curated for us every day. Yet, as we quickly discovered the kilometres and time shown only gave a certain version of reality. The road was neither flat nor well paved and we spent at least 2 hours a day lost not knowing how and where to go. What added a bit of spice to the challenge was that in the countries we cycled through, Lithuania, Poland and Germany, no one we came across seemed to speak a word of English. In other words, when we were lost there was no way out...
On some days we would envy the normal people in the supermarket for having the chance to go home after shopping whilst we had to go back to our bikes after having eaten a salad! Sometimes, we would struggle to even find a shop/gas station/etc as google maps sent us to rather obscure areas along the way.
Despite all these difficulties, we somehow found a way to take things positively and to think of why we had decided to do this in the first place. Most importantly, it actually worked! The secret is letting go and having a positive attitude towards everything that comes your way.
Thanks to this, the friendship that exists between Mivida, Alex and I came out even stronger.
The best moment during this trip? The last minute of the last day when you know that all of this will be over the next day. We were often asked these question by many people: "Who forced you to do this? Why are you doing it anyway? Couldn’t you raise money without all this effort ?"
Well I’m not going to lie, it has been extremely challenging to a point where we sometimes thought of quitting but the things that are worth doing never come easily and we sincerely believed that the cause behind it is very much worth it.
Volunteering with the Order has been an amazing experience for me whether on wheels, on foot or simply by heart and mind. During these 20 days, 1450km and 4 countries, we had a roller coster of emotions and lots of ups and downs. We encountered a lot of different weather and road conditions. We visited a lot of nice places and met very nice people. We also learned that cycling in Europe as Lebanese does not always turn out well especially when it comes to road navigation!
We’ve learned to expect the unexpected. This trip taught us how to work under pressure and deal with whatever situation comes our way.
We’ve learned that it is mind over matter and that even if our bodies might not be fit enough, with the right mind-set we could achieve everything.
I would finally like to thank everyone that contributed to this trip; whether by hosting us, sponsoring us or donating for the education of our friends Ousama, Moussa, Yemen and Joey. We could absolutely not have done it without you and your continuous support!
Now we can proudly say that we went the extra thousand miles!
Diane Moussa (19)
For donations: https://www.lebanononwheels.com/donate
With your donations, we will be able to pay for an in-house tutor to come to the home of our friends, disabled children who live in Lebanon and are unable to go to school due to their lack of mobility and funds. All and any donation makes a big difference so if you can spare us the change you might spend on that next drink, I promise you it’s worth it.