I wish I'd thought of this sooner. I want to make this trip happen, and I want it to be affordable for you to come along. I finally figured out a way to get this happen, do some good for the world, help the global economy and have even more fun, to boot!
I'm going to team up with a nonprofit group, and the Italy bike tour will be a fundraiser. I see it working like this: You go to all your friends and family and colleagues and get them to sponsor you on this tour, which will raise money for a cause.
I'll come up with a clear estimate of the cost for this trip, and we'll round it up to create a fundraising goal. Let's say the total cost of the tour is $1400. Your "goal" would be to raise $2,000. The first $1400 would fund your tour, and the remaining $600 would go to the non-profit we're supporting.
Of course we'd have to be honest and aboveboard about this--tell your donors that most of their money is going to support your ride. It's all on the honor's system, too, because they'll be handing you the cash and it's up to you to allocate the right amount to the non-profit.
This should be OK, because most of you won't cheat. A few may not be able to raise the full amount, but the non-profit won't be cheated because other riders will raise more money than the official goal. Also, some of our fellow bike tourists may choose to pay for some, or all, of their bike tour out of their own pocket, leaving more funds for the nonprofit.
And anyway, the nonprofit group will benefit from the publicity, and the tour itself is a good cause to support, as I'll explain in a moment.
So, which cause are we supporting?
I just thought of this, and haven't actually contacted any nonprofit organizations yet. I have a few in mind, and I'm open to suggestions. (Post yours in the comment section, below!)
I'd like to support a group that's focused on ecology, sustainability, biking, alternative energy, or international understanding. This seems appropriate for a bike tour in a foreign country.
The tour itself is going to be a call to action, showing people that you can get around on your own power. Just doing this is going to get a lot of people thinking about getting around on their own power, especially when we publicize the bricks out of it.
This is also going to be a big push for small mom-and-pop businesses and farms in Italy. I'm contacting pro loco goups all over southern Italy (they're sort of like a Chamber of Commerce for tiny rural villages and hill towns) to make the most of festivals and local small businesses. We'll stay in agriturismo sites, small campgrounds and family-owned bed and breakfasts.
I'm also getting in touch with other bikers I met on my last trip, like the members of the Terracina Cycling Group. We'll ride together, and maybe take a day off to stash our panniers and ride fast in the hills with Italian cyclists.
Anyway, I'm getting really excited about this and I hope you are too. I'm thinking May, 2010 as the date of the bike tour because that gives us a year to hook up with all the groups and make things happen.