Bike-a-Thon III supports rural Armenia

Bike-a-Thon III supports rural Armenia

June 14, 2005

Imagine biking hundreds of miles, encountering mountains, rocky terrain, and long stretches of uninhabited land as you go. On August 20, 2005, a number of designated riders will do just that, as they ride for Armenia during the Armenian Technology Group’s Bike-a-Thon III. Their goal is simple: to help rebuild their ancestral homeland into a strong, vibrant nation.

The past two Bike-a-Thons have been a very successful part of the ongoing process to help Armenia’s rural farmers prosper. Bike-a-Thon I helped establish a certified grape nursery in the Artsakh region; ATG estimates that every dollar invested in the nursery increases local income 14-fold. Fifty-three families are now employed by the nursery, and hundreds of acres of vineyards in Karabakh are being rejuvenated yearly with young, disease-free grapevines. Bike-a-Thon II played a critical role in raising the funds to purchase four milk-cooling tanks to serve as storage for rural farmers, allowing their surplus milk to be kept fresh and to be sold to dairy processors. The milk tanks also serve as inspection sites to ensure that Armenia’s children are provided with fresh, wholesome milk. More than 3,000 families in 4 villages are the target beneficiaries of this project.

This year’s Bike-a-Thon has the specific goal of raising the funds needed to train professional veterinarians who will work with the Central Diagnostic Lab to a) help increase farm production and income, and b) to ensure that the milk and dairy products are safe for consumption. The purpose of the Lab is to ensure that Armenia’s rural farming operations can minimize the spread of a wide range of diseases including as tuberculosis, brucellosis, salmonella, anthrax and e.coli, which can enter the food supply and thereby affect public health. This will also help farmers to run their operations more efficiently and productively. “Rural economic development in Armenia is vital to the future of the country. We sincerely appreciate those who participate in helping us attain our mutual goal,” said ATG executive director Varoujan Der Simonian.

Preparations are already under way for Bike-a-Thon III. Vatche Soghomonian, who led the first two cycling events and recently qualified for the Tour de France, will be accompanied by other bikers eager to support Armenia. “I invite anyone who is willing to join me in this noble cause of revitalizing our homeland”, stated Soghomonian.

Vatche and his friends will begin their ride from Yerevan, then peddle towards Khor Virab, and then on to Noravank. They will then journey to Yeghegnatsor and through Areni wine country, stopping to have a taste of Armenia’s wines. The tour will continue to Sisian, and then Goris, followed by a stop at Khapan, and onward to Meghri. The bikers will pass through Karabakh, visiting Shushi and Stepanakert. They will visit the ATG wine grape nursery in Khramort, funded by Diaspora Armenians, and ride to the ancient Gantzasar monastery. The tour will then climb from Yeghegnatsor to Marduni, and along Lake Sevan, then continuing on to Oshakan, Sartarabad, and finally visit St. Echmiadzin before returning to Yerevan.

The tour will also feature several Walk-a-Thons through several villages and towns on the same path as the Bike-a-Thon, giving participants a close connection with the local residents. Throughout the tour, they will rely on the hospitality of the local population to regain their strength. As in the past, their efforts are expected to attract many supporters, from inside Armenia and out, to see them in action. Tourists will also be able to visit the many natural and historical wonders of the country. Media coverage of the Bike-a-Thon will bring rural Armenia into the spotlight, showing the great beauty and potential of the countryside.

For more information about participating in Bike-A-Thon III or to help financially, please email the Armenian Technology Group or call (559) 224-1000.