Last weekend, Zaki Hadrami rode his bike 100 miles in Washington D.C. to benefit refugees. Despite an injury and uncooperative weather, he completed his journey, remembering that refugees have no control over their conditions either. If that’s not enough to inspire, he plans to do it all over again this weekend in California. He visited the IRUSA office for a quick chat about his rides.
What gave you the idea for this year’s ride?
I started out last year with UNWRA USA. I decided to celebrate my birthday by raising money to support a good cause, raising money for Palestinian refugees. Now the idea is growing and people want to participate, and that’s been nice.
This year the focus will be Yemini and Syrian refugees because right now they are the ones in the most crisis.
One day I was sitting on the couch reading an article on my computer and I saw in Norway and Scandinavia the refugees crossing the border actually need to buy bikes to cross over. So I saw one lady in particular, she wore hijab and was pregnant and riding her bike. I thought, if she can do it, I can do it.
How did you get into biking?
There was a cycling tour in Sicily, and I decided to try it out. I had never ridden a bike before that. I started riding my bike when I was 35, so it’s never too old to start something new.
Why did you pick IRUSA?
You have a wide reach and I wanted to benefit more people. You guys have been here for many, many years. You’re a trusted organization.
How long does it take to ride 100 miles?
My fastest time was in Chicago, it was flat, and it took about 6 hours and 59 minutes. I was averaging at 14 miles an hour.
I heard you named your bike?
[Laughs] My first ride, I named my bike Shahrazad. This year, I’m kind of split between two names: Ciel, which is French for sky, and Andalusia. Both have a meaning. Ciel I chose because I have a Banksy art piece on my steering tube of a girl holding balloons to the sky. It symbolizes hope so that’s why I picked Ciel. Andalusia I chose because my bike is all black, and it reminded me of the girl from The Alchemist, described as having very dark hair. So I can’t pick between the two.
How about Andaluciel? Put them together.
Actually, that’s it. Andaluciel.
A lot of people feel helpless when they hear about all the suffering in the world. What would you say to them?
First, think positive. Because when you think positive, your creativity starts to evolve. And just being creative about it challenges you to figure out what you can do. 100 miles will mess with your mind. But what keeps me going is thinking about what refugees face. People out there saying they can’t do it, they should think positive. You’ll never do it if you say you can’t. Ask yourself what you can do to help. Everyone has something to offer. And it’s never too late to start something new. I was riding with someone who was almost 70 years old and he was riding in front of me. Don’t let age stop you.
How can people help you?
Donate. I have a goal of $4,000 that I need to meet. Please help me reach my goal. I’ll be matching the highest donation from my own pocket, plus my company will match whatever I donate. You can follow me live on MapMyRide.