Turkey and Syria Earthquake FundraiserJan Heine
Today and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday, Feb. 9-10, 2023), we are donating the entire cost of Bicycle Quarterly subscriptions and renewals to help victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. We’ve all been shocked and saddened by the terrible news and the incredible suffering.
For us, the news have been especially sad as we’ve long wanted to visit this region. We’ve been inspired by Lyli Serguéiew, the bikepacker, adventurer and artist. In 1938, she set out from Paris to ride solo to Saigon in Vietnam. World War II stopped her voyage in Aleppo, Syria. She returned to Paris after having cycled more than 6000 km (3800 miles), mostly on rough gravel roads.
Her book Routes, Risques, Rencontres (Roads, Risks, Encounters) is one of our favorite pieces of cycling literature, even though she barely talks about her bike. In every country she visited, she endeavored to learn the language, immerse herself in the culture, and draw. Wherever she went, she met local people. She even participated in a wedding in Yugoslavia. She found that traveling alone made it easy to connect to the locals in the places she visited.
Even though she was a strong cyclist, she was in no rush—except when she had to traverse an area of Turkey closed to foreigners for strategic reasons. That adventure ended with her being detained by the military, who took her right to the center of the area she wasn’t supposed to see. She managed to convince a judge of her innocence and continued her adventures.
Her bike, by the way, was a Caminargent, with an aluminum frame. Cutting edge at the time, and superlight even by today’s standards. ‘Tott 38,’ as she called it, carried her all across Europe and part of Asia on rough gravel roads.
Almost everybody she met was friendly. Only once did she get a terrible fright at a rough roadside inn. That night, a stranger approached her bed in the big dormitory. She froze with fear, but it turned out that he just left some money while she slept, figuring that a woman traveling alone by bicycle had to be poor.
She describes Turkey and Syria as beautiful countries with generous and kind people. Her drawings of the towns and cities made us want to visit there. Seeing photos of Aleppo in ruins is doubly sad after reading about Lily’s travel’s there.
Her book, published during the war in 1943, contains a series of short stories, rather than a continuous report of her voyage, and it’s all the better for it. If you read French, we highly recommend the book. It’s easy to find on used-book websites.
Even after returning to Paris, Lily’s adventures were not finished yet: She was recruited by the Germans as a spy. She was sent to Britain, but instead of working for the Germans, she joined the British secret service. As a double-agent, she helped the French Resistance and the Allied war effort. After the war, it appears that she married an American and moved to the U.S.
Back to the current situation… We’re too sad to show photos of children being pulled from the rubble—you’ve probably seen those images yourself. What we can do now is donate to organizations that help survivors as they face the bitter cold of winter.
We will donate the full price—$ 40—if you subscribe to Bicycle Quarterly by Friday, 2/10/2023, midnight (Seattle time). If you are already a subscriber, renew and we’ll make the same donation. If you subscribe or renew for several years, the donation is the same $ 40—the fees for the second and third years help us defray the cost a bit. For international subscriptions and renewals, we’ll also donate $ 40 of the subscription price. You can combine your subscription with an order of books and/or components. Your subscription will start with Bicycle Quarterly’s 20th anniversary edition (unless you are renewing a current subscription).
Donations will go in equal parts to Doctors Without Borders, CARE, and Unicef. All these organizations have people on the ground who can help immediately. Please help, either through our fundraiser or by donating directly to these or other organizations.
Jan & Natsuko