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The News-Gazette (serving East Central Illinois)
“Pedaling for Peace” by Jodi Heckel
“We met Chris Bornstein when he was camping next to us in Shawnee National Forest last weekend … Bornstein is calling his trip “Pedaling for Peace.”
He told us he hopes to find small, local charities in the countries he visits and volunteer or raise money for them through his website….. No matter how far Bornstein goes on his trip, I admire that he started on something he believes in.”
- March 30, 2011 5:34 AM – Santa Barbara New Press – FRONT PAGE
Chris Bornstein started pedaling his way toward peace in August. He had no timeline and didn’t know exactly where the road would take him.
Seven months later, after biking to Santa Barbara from Pennsylvania Dutch Country, he has a greater idea of what his goals are and how far he hopes to carry his message of peace — he hopes to ride around the world.
Mr. Bornstein, 34, told the the News-Press he is an adopted child who was raised in Lancaster, Pa., and joined the Navy at 18. For four years he served on the USS Independence in Yokosuka, Japan.
After his Navy stint, he moved to Arizona, but two marriages, a couple of business ventures and part of a bachelor’s degree later, “I decided to drop everything,” he said.
He found himself in Hawi, Hawaii, but life in the Aloha State soon plateaued.
“I had reached a point in Hawaii where life couldn’t get better,” he said.
Then Mr. Bornstein’s father came down with a serious illness.
“That was kind of the impetus for starting the bike ride,” Mr. Bornstein said, “to be the hero that I always looked up to.”
Since arriving in Santa Barbara a little more than a week ago, Mr. Bornstein has participated in a peace rally on State Street and has made numerous friends, including people at WheelHouse on Anacapa Street, Fastrack Bicycles on Canon Perdido Street, Bici Centro, and Fishbon, a local art collaborative.
“They took me seriously,” he said. “They’re all just the raddest people.”
Mr. Bornstein was leaning against his bike, a hunkered-down Tri-Cross he bought from someone on craigslist. The bike would normally run for $2,000, but that he got it for $500.
“This thing’s come a long way and it’s got a long way to go,” he said. “It’s super empowering to ride a bike this far. It’s super fast and super lightweight.”
All of his equipment is either used or donated, and Mr. Bornstein dons no specially printed T-shirts with the names of his sponsors. Nor does he hand out business cards.
Instead, he says he wants to set an eco-friendly example.
The message of environmental stewardship, however, isn’t the only message Mr. Bornstein is trying to convey.
People need to start combatting war; famine; disease; and abuse, he said.
“Our lives are so fleeting. What you do while you’re here is so utterly important,” Mr. Bornstein said. “People need to be responsible for what’s going on in the world and stop acting like they’re not part of the problem.”
What ultimately matters is how people treat one another, Mr. Bornstein said, stressing tolerance.
“I’m a vegan — you’re not,” he said. “But if your chicken’s burning, I’ll flip it on the grill.”
While he has been teaching people at points in his journey, he’s also learned a few of his own lessons along the way.
“It’s really helped me grow a lot,” he said. “I’ve learned that if you get a flat tire, you gotta fix it and move on.”
He has had at least 20 flat tires over the course of his trek thus far.
He also has learned that “The people with the least will shower you with everything they have,” he said.
“Generosity is more common than not.”
Apart from a bone bruise in Arizona after hitting a patch of black ice, Mr. Bornstein hasn’t suffered any major injuries and says he won’t be deterred from heading farther south.
Eventually, he said, his travels will take him to places all over the world, including Mexico; Africa; France; Great Britain; Italy; Turkey; Greece; Asia; and Australia.
“It’s amazing, the power of this thing,” Mr. Bornstein said pointing to his bike.
“I think I’ll just keep doing this till I die,” he said. “If I were doing anything else, I’d be a fool.”