Ulverston eco-campaigner gears up for marathon bamboo bike ride
AN Ulverston woman will embark on a 6,000-mile journey - covering much of the route on a hand-crafted bamboo bicycle - to raise awareness of the threat posed to Earth's biodiversity.
Dr Kate Rawles, 53, of Ainsworth Street, plans to cycle from Costa Rica to Cape Horn, Argentina, on a year-long expedition.
The 'Life Cycle' will see Dr Rawles travel the length of a continent in the most eco-friendly way possible - from travelling to Central America via cargo ship, to cycling thousands of miles.
Her bicycle, which Dr Rawles made with London based company, Bamboo Bicycle Club, was created using bamboo sourced from the Eden Project in Cornwall, and aims to provide a carbon-neutral and environmentally friendly mode of transport.
A former lecturer on outdoor studies at the University of Cumbria, Dr Rawles said: "I've always loved cycling in mountains; the last time I did was in the Rockies. The Andes are the next step up in grandeur, and a challenge."
Over the course of her year-long ride, Dr Rawles will follow the spine of the Andes, as she makes her way through 10 countries.
She said: "It will challenge me physically and it will also be a lot of cultural challenges."
On her way she will meet groups across South America to discuss ways in which biodiversity can be preserved
Dr Rawles is hoping to pose questions for people following her journey on what biodiversity is, and what individuals can do to help protect it.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature an estimated 100 species per million are going extinct every year - a figure 1,000 times higher than the normal background rate.
The risk posed to polar bears or pandas is well-known to the public, however, Dr Rawles wants to draw attention to the smaller species which play a vital part in our ecosystems.
She said: "Biodiversity gives us clean water, clean air. This is stuff that is vital to us and our quality of life.
"Most people know bee numbers are falling; they are hugely important."
The widely reported death of millions of bees worldwide was seen as a warning sign regarding our harmful impact on the environment.
Dr Rawles said: "Bees are a great ambassador for small biodiversity. We're getting our heads around climate change now, but it's important we take action."
The Life Cycle will begin on December 6, when Dr Rawles sails from Le Havre, France, to Cartagena, Colombia.
She said: "There are still quite a lot to be sorted. I'm not sure where time has gone.
"But, I've got the bike, and I've got the travel sorted!"