by Nathan Morley
BERLIN, Aug 31 (Xinhua) -- Two amateur cyclists from Germany are in the final stages of embarking on the challenge of a lifetime for charity.
On Sept. 1, Max Jabs and Nono Konopka will saddle up for an epic cycle journey from Berlin to Beijing in a bid to raise much-needed money to build a school in South America.
Speaking to Xinhua, the pair explained that their ambitious project 'Biking Borders' will see them ride across vast swathes of Europe and Asia.
"The idea to do an extreme bicycle trip and to use social media to create the required awareness came to us when watching a National Geographic Documentary," Konopka said.
"This gave us the final motivation to go through with the idea of building a school by biking borders," he added. The fundraising campaign will be updated online, meaning sponsors and supporters can follow their path to China via the internet.
During research for the trip, the pair discovered that 250 million children lack basic reading and math skills. Konopka said 'Biking Borders' is about doing exceptional things that are entirely out of normal comfort zones and have a positive impact on the lives of others.
"It's our mission to create digital awareness for educational problems by doing something extremely challenging. We aim to build a school in Guatemala as well as to enable 400 children an entire year of education with our project," he added.
"The name captures the story that two 'usually non-bikers' are overcoming geographic and mental borders by using nothing but a bicycle. It also entails the fact that education should not be restricted or limited by the borders one is living in."
Supporters, family and friends are expected to be out in force in Berlin on Sept. 1, when the pair will hit the road for their gruelling 15,000 km adventure, which will take them across the frontiers of 14 countries to China.
Together, the bike and luggage weigh 40 kg and are shunted purely by muscle power. One difficult part of the trip will be across the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan, which is 4,500 meters above sea level -- and the highest point of the tour.
The expedition requires plenty of training, and brushing up subjects ranging from hydration to nutrition and keeping their kit in good condition.
"In numbers, we will need to cycle more than 15,000 km in order to reach Beijing. Obviously, this requires an extreme amount of endurance and is even for a passionate cyclist an intimidating number. What makes our planned journey even more challenging is the fact that we will bike under extreme environmental conditions: winter and summer, 4,500-meter-high mountain peaks and deserts," Konopka added.
Jabs is familiar with China, having completed an internship in Shanghai with a large textile company.
"Choosing China as the end point of our journey had different reasons. The first one is quite simple but also of importance: we wanted a destination that is far away from our home country Germany -- in a geographic, but also cultural way," he said.
"Basically, China played an important part in my education as well as my career and I often describe it as the beginning of my journey."
The challenge has a tight budget of around 6,000 euros to cover accommodation and food -- plus the costs for visa and return flight from Beijing. Other supporters donated bags, tools, spare parts, sleeping bags and clothing.
"We both are aware that simply taking our bikes and start paddling towards China is not really feasible. Especially on a route like ours, there are various questions that have to be asked beforehand," Jabs explained.
Jabs and Konopka have been preparing for the past five months and said they are able to visualize the journey. Whatever the outcome, both agree the ride will be an unforgettable experience.