Valentina's Report of BT 2011 - Italia

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My life has been changing quite a lot after biketour and also I am moving to live for one year in Rwanda, so I think it is the time to write some consideration about the experience I had with the ecotopia! I am writing a “short” report about biketour 2011 in Italia mostly for two reasons : to don't forget with the time and to be helpful for next year biketours.

Introduction

As most of you might know, BT 2011 had different organization's problems : the evs volunteer started late to work on it (april/may) but they gave up with the organisation in May. With a big amount of unconsciousness me and helene decided to make the biketour happens because we believed in the project

At the end of May we had: The direction of the route and contacts with farmers only in tuscany. Around 27 people joined the BT in total. It is not possibile now to write a complete “diary” about the tour as we didn't make it during the summer, and now it would be too much work.

I will try to write about the main problems/solutions we had. First of all I have to say that it has been the most trip I never did! So many thanks to everybody who joined it!

“Theoretical” problems

  • my inexperience about cycle-tourism: I've never cycled that much, and for me has been both physically and psychological effort;
  • lack of communication from the bt-org list, especially from the more experienced people who “should” help more new people;
  • confusion about the Ecotopia Biketour “values”, what was the sense when the BT started, and what is the sense now to continue with the biketour organisation called ecotopia? Milan helped about that, talking with us about the story of BT..but I think it would be necessary to think about this point if we don't want to leave the bt happens by “chance”

Practical part

The bt was essentially in two part : before and after Rome. This is because in Rome somebody left and somebody came so we had a big change in the group.

Before Rome we had some problems more then after the city. This is because I was not able to delegate the “jobs” to do for two reasons : for me everything was new and I had to manage myself first and also because some people in the group were not really “collaborative” and they didn't take the initiative to do stuff. So I had to do lots of things : cycle first of all (and for me it was an hard part!) , think about the route, about the food, the place where to go also to sleep, the contact with the farms, the contact with the people who were joining... That's also why, when the booklet came from laura (after the beginning of the tour), I appreciated it, but I said to the people in the group about it...and then I saw that nobody was thinking to print it..even if at the start of the tour we said : ok this is a DIY biketour!!but actually it was not (at least at the beginning), so finally I didn't print it becuase I didn't have the time to go also to the city to do it (we where usually in the countryside). We had some problems with the route and we spent lots of time to looking for sleeping places, decided where to go and we usually started to cycle in the morning too late. In Rome we had an important moment with the feeling circle : we toke the chance to express ourselves, our emotions in freedom and it helped a lot. I was glad because actually, in spite of all the problems we had, every single person had wonderful words to express themselves about the tour, and most of the people were grateful to me and helene about the work we did. Most of the people was happy to stay in the tour, and felt comfortable with the group.

Then after Rome the people in the group changed, and everything was much better: everybody was much more responsible and involved with the tour organisation. The DIT philosophy was finally working!! :)

Activism in ecotopia biketour

Personally I had NO energy to organize other stuff. I mean I was too tired and involved with the practical part of the tour that I could not think also about the actions and the workshop part. We didn't do actions, but we met nice people in the farms we visited and we had some nice workshop (also with alice, this one I think was really helpful).

But this part also depends on what meaning we want to give to the “Ecotopia biketour” and also it depends a lots on the people your have in your group..you can't force people to be what they are not! And I think this year we had a big variety of kind of people/life style.

Safety

This is an important part for me. I often felt responsible for the group (of course this depends on the personality of the organizer). I was worried when people got lost, when people where stopped on the road in groups, when people cycled without lights in the night(!!!) It would be great to have a safety workshop, to study more about the road rules in the country you visit, to have the chance to discuss about how to cycle safe in group. Personally I think it would be good idea to have an insurance for the group (it is not expensive) also to take away some responsibilities from the organizers.

What I can suggest to the organizer of this year is to be patient :) It is normal to feel tired of pushing the group..and it is helpful to take some days of break from the group during the tour. Finally everything goes well and the biketour it is a fantastic experience anyway!

I was feeling sometime that as I was a coordinator, I could not join the group as the other people, and when they had “parties” or had free moment to join the places, I toke the chance to rest a bit!! but anyway I was happy to coordinate it and gave the chance to the people to visit italy.

It is true, it was not a really “active” biketour but I think it was great anyway !

I know this is a really short report about biketour...but if I start to go deeper into the experiences, I would write pages! I just wanted to give an idea of the whole tour and give some inspirations about stuff to think about.. Thank you to everybody who helped in different ways, Milan, Caroline, Laura Daniel ecc... And of course thanks to Helene (my favourite trip mate!) and the people who joined the tour!!

If you want to know more about any points I wrote here about, or if you want to more know for curiosity or because you think it is useful for the next biketour, please let me know!!

I love you guys and girls * Good luck Joao and Alice as I know you are so experienced and smart that I am sure you will be fine and this biketour is going to be great! See you soon, I hope!

Valentina