Feature: Chinese cyclist devotes himself to volunteer work

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-20 13:59:48|Editor: huaxia

YINCHUAN, China, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- 56-year-old Ding Gaoqiang has just cycled home with seven others from a mountainous village in Xihaigu, one of China's poorest areas, with the 600-kilometer journey taking them four days.

"We returned in advance, because it has been raining these days, and riding on muddy village roads is not safe," said Ding.

They rode not just for fun.

Starting from Yinchuan, capital city of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, they rode to Zhongliang village in Guyuan city, and sent flour and milk to elderly people who live alone and in poverty. They also bought agricultural products from the villagers to support them.

"We are calling on good-hearted people to purchase agricultural products to be harvested within a few months to help more poor villagers," said Ding.

This is the fifth such trip undertaken by Ding. Since 2005, the cycling enthusiast has taken part in many outdoor cycling races related to environmental protection. Doing volunteer work by bike has become an indispensible part of his life.

Since 2012, Ding and his riding peers have made the poverty-stricken Xihaigu area their regular destination. They collected personal information of poor children, elders and ill people there, and gave the information to organizations or people willing to help.

Each time, they ride up to 2,000 kilometers, which often takes them at least 10 days. "Riding in mountainous areas is bittersweet. You can enjoy beautiful scenery, but on some bumpy paths, you have to push your bicycles forward," Ding said, adding that the good part is that they all share the same belief: calling on more people to help those in need in this way.

At present, Ding is the secretary-general of the Yinchuan Cycling Association that administers over 40 cycling clubs. Influenced by him, many cycling enthusiasts have joined in with charity work.

Zhao Dongsheng, 72, is one of Ding's followers, and has joined him in riding to Zhongliang village this time.

After retiring, Zhao took up cycling and now owns ten bicycles. He has also established his own cycling club and leads members to ride to volunteer at nursing homes and orphanages.

"Our cycling club has a weekly training plan, and we are all willing to lend a hand while riding. I think this is meaningful," said Zhao.

"Cycling is good for health, and the low-carbon means of transportation is also environmentally friendly," Ding said, adding that with more cycle lanes being built in Yinchuan city, the number of cyclists is also increasing.

In addition to his cycling endeavors, Ding has donated blood 181 times within 12 years, which helped save the lives of more than 100 people. Riding bikes to see orphans and elders or to pick up garbage in mountains or alongside the Yellow River and publicizing the idea of garbage sorting has become his way of life. He has also arranged to donate all his organs after death to people in need.

In January this year, when many people in China were isolated at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Ding chose to be outside as a volunteer and helped with epidemic-prevention work such as body temperature monitoring and traffic evacuation.

Devoting himself to volunteer work, Ding has given up his steel processing shop and refused work opportunities offered by his friends. Without a steady source of income, Ding was unable to provide a sizable dowry for his eldest daughter when she married, instead giving her the Olympic torch he took as a torchbearer for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

"I'm willing to ride wherever I am needed," Ding said, adding that his greatest joy is to help others and make more people join him. Enditem