Thursday, July 30, 2009

Next up: Enduro America?

I'd really been hoping to avoid a posting under this title, but the news yesterday effectively demanded it:
The governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has approved spending cuts of more than half a billion dollars to the state's budget. Most of the savings are being made in social services - with deep cuts in child welfare programmes, health care for the poor, and HIV/AIDS initiatives. BBC
Services for people with AIDS, which had previously been spared by the Legislature, were reduced by $52 million by Schwarzenegger on Tuesday. That cut will mean no state spending on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, education or housing services for people with the disease. KFF
Education efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS are also expected to be reduced as a result of state budget cuts, according to Megan O’Day, executive director of AIDS Community Research Consortium in Redwood City. Health care costs for an HIV-positive person over 20 years is $600,000, she estimated, compared to $80,000 for a person without HIV during the same period of time. SF Examiner
"It's a heartless act which will set the clock back on AIDS prevention, care and treatment back to where it was 25 years ago," according to Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

So, it would appear that we may need an Enduro America in the future to help increase awareness of an epidemic that already has hotspots that mirror anything one can find in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Let's hope the California state legislature is successful in halting these cuts, and that the trend doesn't spread to other financially strapped states.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ride preparation continues ...

It was a busy week for Andrew's Enduro Africa. I spent Monday's lunch at the local AAA getting an international driver's license. The resulting document left me feeling underwhelmed that my money was well spent ($15).

And yesterday morning, I was at the doctor's office getting prescriptions for inoculations and preventive medicine for the trip (i.e., Hep A, typhoid, anti-malarials). I decided against a rabies vaccination on grounds that anything that would bite me out there probably wouldn't leave much behind to treat.

More ride gear has arrived, including jersey, pants, and other protective gear. I had to try it all on to make sure it fit. Ed and Elizabeth can vouch for the fact that it does. All I need now are my helmet and goggles, and I'm ready to roll.

I completed a brief assessment and consultation with a personal trainer last night, but next steps are still in the works.

And finally, I screened into an H1N1 vaccine trial this week for three reasons: 1) to help find an efficacious vaccine before the virus mutates and wreaks complete havoc later this year, 2) because participant reimbursements = EA donations, and 3) to confer personal protection from such antics as the one demonstrated here.

Stay tuned. The adventure continues.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

70 days and counting: Fitness update

With only 70 days remaining to the start of Enduro Africa, I've stepped up efforts to meet 3 fitness goals:

  • getting physically fit,
  • building strength and endurance specifically with the off-road ride in mind,
  • losing another 10 pounds.
Here's what I've done so far. First, I started an account with a free online fitness tracking tool to log exercise activities and weigh-ins. Second, I set a personal goal of exercising at least 4x/wk for 60 minutes. Third, I scheduled a consult with a trainer at the neighborhood gym, largely to help map out a routine to augment my preferred training activities - viz., swimming and biking. Finally, although I'm not tracking calories, I am cutting way back on the vices: Ben & Jerry's, coffee shop muffins and scones, and chocolate. At the same time, I'm increasing intake of veggies and fruits.

And so far, so good. I've been using my online tracking tool regularly and find it very reinforcing to see graphically changes in my weight. I've been exercising 5 - 6x/week, most often with a .75 - 1 mile swim or 20 - 40 mile bike rides after work or on weekends. I've lost 2% of my weight this month, bringing me from a BMI of 27.1 to 26.5 (Goal BMI = 25.4, still "overweight" but not really). We'll see how I feel when I get to my target; I may try to drop another 5 lbs. if I can.

Best of all, I've regained somewhat the level of fitness I had back in California, when I'd think nothing of our 25-mile mountain bike rides through Arastradero OSP and El Corte de Madera OSP, some of which started with a 5 - 6 mile climb to the trail head.

So, slowly but surely I'm getting there.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How to make a map with Google Maps

Since so many have asked how I made a Google Maps and Enduro Africa Itinarary mashup, I thought I'd simply point readers to a brief video demonstrating how to make one's own map.

And trust me, these things are simple, useful, and very cool. I have a collection of maps for motorcycle rides, hangouts in D.C., and general maps for new cities I've visited (don't you hate finding something interesting on a trip and then never quite remembering where it was?).

Best of all, there's a mobile version of Google with a "search nearby" feature on its maps program that works with your phone's GPS system to pinpoint your location in real time.

It's worked in every city I've been to in the past year, large or small, international or domestic. Anyone with a smart phone and who travels a bit need never again be lost or at a loss to find the best local poutine, crocodile kabobs, or meza.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TED Talks: Bono on AIDS in Africa

Back in Feb. 2005, U2 lead singer and co-founder of the ONE campaign, Bono, accepted the TED Prize and offered a provocative talk with this challenge:

“The fact is that ours is the first generation that can look disease and extreme poverty in the eye, look across the ocean to Africa and say this and mean it: We do not have to stand for this. A whole continent written off. We do not have to stand for this..."[Timestamp: 11:40]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Sponsor: Coles' Martial Arts Academy

I'm thrilled to announce a new business sponsorship from Coles' Martial Arts Academy in Bethesda. I'm especially pleased because Coles' is the academy Elizabeth attends for her Tae Kwon Do training.

In the years since we left California, Elizabeth has tried a number of a schools to continue her training but has been disappointed by the social promotion and lax standards she encountered.

Having sat through several sessions at Coles', I can say with confidence that E's now back on track with a studio committed to quality instruction and high standards. I can just see her beaming after each class.

So, while I'm highlighting Coles' because of its support of my Enduro Africa project -- they didn't ask me to blurb them -- I mean it when I say that anyone looking for an excellent Tae Kwon Do studio in the DC area would do well to drop in there and just observe a class or two. You'll quickly see what I mean.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Photo Series of Supporters: Gary

San Jose, California

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Blogger finally finds voice (only it's not his)

Today's Washington Post features a fantastic article by William Powers, who writes of traveling the whole of Liberia by bush-taxi, motorbike, and foot. Powers offers a brief glimpse into the history of this unique Sub-Saharan African country, comments on its under-appreciated ties to the U.S., and shares a unique insider's view into its language, culture, food, and people. Here's a snippet:
"Welcome to Liberia!" the immigration officer exclaimed.
"How da'body?" I replied.
"Body fine!" he answered, reaching out to shake my hand. I was ready. I knew the ubiquitous Liberian snap-shake: After a regular handclasp, each person uses the other's middle finger to snap his own. The result is a satisfying double-pop. But I'd been out of Liberia too long. My snap-shake wouldn't snap. The officer shrugged. "Keep tryin,'" he said.

Photo credit: Christopher Herwig

It's a fun, well-written article that may have been pulled from Powers' memoir, Blue clay people: Seasons on Africa's fragile edge. It certainly makes one want to go visit and experience the country for oneself. It also inspires one to become a better writer. See for yourself.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Off-Road Rider Gear, Part I

Of the out-of-pocket expenses associated with my participation in Enduro Africa (e.g., postcards, postage, international transfer fees, t-shirts, etc.), none has me feeling giddier than this one: Off-road riding gear.

Last night, I placed an order for Fox Racing 360 racing jersey, pants, and gloves (rugged, padded, yet fully vented for hot conditions), and Moose Racing M1 boots with all terrain heel (well-made, replacement parts, economical).

Here's the full list of essential riding gear and equipment.

Next up: Helmet, goggles, armor, and accessories. Stay tuned - pictures of me all suited up coming soon!

Friday, July 17, 2009

CDC: Vaccinations and Preventive Medicine for travel to ZA

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance on vaccinations and preventive medicine for travel to rural South Africa, including the recommendation to visit a health care provider at least 4 - 6 weeks before travel to permit enough time for vaccines and other medications to take effect.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Vaccine recommendations are based on the best available risk information. Please note that the level of risk for vaccine-preventable diseases can change at any time.
Vaccination or DiseaseRecommendations or Requirements for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, etc.

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)

Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infection (see map) where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.

Hepatitis B

Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).

Typhoid Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in Southern Africa, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water.
Rabies Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites. For updates on the rabies vaccine supply, please check the Rabies News and Highlights page regularly.


Malaria Contact for Health-Care Providers
For assistance with the diagnosis or management of suspected cases of malaria, call the CDC Malaria Hotline: 770-488-7788 (M-F, 8 am-4:30 pm, Eastern time). For emergency consultation after hours, call 770-488-7100 and ask to speak with a CDC Malaria Branch clinician.

Drugs to Prevent Malaria (antimalarial drugs)

If you will be visiting a malaria risk area in South Africa, you will need to take one of the following antimalarial drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine (primaquine in special circumstances and only after G6PD testing).

Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in South Africa and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.

Malaria risk area in South Africa: Risk exists in the low-altitude areas of the Mpumalanga Province, Northern Province (Limpopo), and northeastern Kwa- Zulu-Natal as far south as the Tugela River. Risk in Kruger National Park.

To find out more information on malaria throughout the world, you can use the interactive CDC malaria map. You can search or browse countries, cities, and place names for more specific malaria risk information and the recommended prevention medicines for that area.


See also the CDC's guidance here and here for other tips and medications (e.g., anti-diarrheals, insect repellants, etc.) to pack for the trip.

Enduro Africa riders and others should consult their GPs for advice before pursuing any of these preventive measures.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Media coverage of a 2008 Enduro Africa rider

Here's a short news clip about Canadian Mark Jennings-Bates' experience of the 2008 Enduro Africa ride and fundraiser, including the impact of donations on the region's children, the determination of other riders, and the rides effect on his own life.

Perhaps a Dakar Rally entry will be in my future, too?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 IAS Conference - Cape Town

I don't often re-post others' texts in their entirety, but this introduction to the 2009 International AIDS Society conference, which begins later this week in Cape Town, seemed a fitting piece of background on the social, public health, and political contexts in which Enduro Africa's four selected charities operate. And it offers a glimpse into an incredible country and a resilient people who will not fail to awe and inspire you. Take a look:

South Africa's Context Sets the Stage for IAS 2009

by Hoosen (Jerry) Coovadia, IAS 2009 Local Co-Chair, and President of Dira Sengwe

I look forward to welcoming IAS 2009 participants from all over the world to South Africa this week. As many of you begin your journey to Cape Town, I wish to share some thoughts on the somewhat unusual political epidemiology of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. I think it will give you a different, and I hope interesting, slant on the subject.

As a South African, I and the overwhelming majority of this country’s citizens had the highest expectations for the first democratically elected government in the history of our country. In 1994, the man Nelson Mandela, the century-old political party of liberation, and the people who were the heirs of a long, long period of opposition to different forms of domination, created a surge of hope in millions of us. We seemed to be at the moment of greatest possibility as a nation.

From the mid-seventeenth century we had experienced the subjugation of Dutch and British colonialism, the privations of harshly enforced segregation, and finally apartheid – the most brutal, rigid and consolidated form of separation of a population on the basis of race and colour. Among the multitude of deprivations during these centuries, the health of the indigenous and slave groups, and in the 20th Century, the well-being of people of colour generally suffered greatly.

The HIV epidemic has been a defining feature of the period that straddles the closing of the last hundred years and the nascent footprints of the twenty-first century. South Africa’s transition to democracy over the past 15 years has not been easy; the years have seen aspirations of the poor dim and fade. There have been many shortcomings of the government, some trivial but many very serious indeed. Without a doubt, AIDS occupies a pivotal position in our history, characterizing the health of an independent, non-racial South Africa, while simultaneously framing the country`s moral, political, social and economic life.

It is for these reasons that IAS 2009 is so well timed, as South Africa ushers in a new government. Yesterday’s government of Thabo Mbeki earned a unique reputation among modern democracies for discarding the scientific basis of medicine. This split the country into those who tried to explain the world through reason, and others who were misled into denial and doubt. Medically proven interventions were delayed and a concerted strategy against this deadly disease never materialized. Confusing and conflicting messages also left the people bewildered. As a result, a complicated social disease – the likes of which had rarely if ever been experienced by humankind, and which therefore required absolutely unequivocal and clear guidelines – spread unhindered. The number of infected reached thousands and then millions, and many hundreds of thousands died. Today’s government – the same party, but from the point of view of public health what may be an entirely new regime –promises a healthier approach.

There is an interesting symmetry between the two major AIDS conferences held in South Africa; the 13th International AIDS Conference in 2000 and IAS 2009. Both events coincide with critical thresholds in the epidemiology and control of HIV/AIDS in this country. AIDS 2000 is considered a landmark event in the global calendar of AIDS. It was the first time the conference left the rich world and came to Africa, bringing it to the people who bore the largest burden of the disease. And what a victory it was for all of us! Since then drug prices have been forced down to affordable levels, civil society won numerous struggles against the state in South Africa, and so on.

Today the Zuma government is beginning anew to confront HIV/AIDS. The ministries are explicitly opposed to the social and economic policies of the previous government, and it is possible to see glimmers of commitment to an implementation plan that addresses the weakest elements of the health system. I am confident that evidence of what works best against HIV/AIDS, to be presented at IAS 2009, will be the instrument for another victory almost a decade later.

So, welcome to a setting in which you will see the close nexus between HIV and context – as well as the connections between public policy, cutting-edge science, and individual outcomes of disease and health – perhaps more vividly than anywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enduro Africa 2009 Itinerary Mash-up

Go ahead - click the blue pins, scroll in/out, switch views from satellite to map to terrain. It all works!

Enlarge map Credit:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Enduro Africa Rider Profiles: Bob & Neil

Recently, I made contact with two other Enduro Africa riders, Bob and Neil, who are Warwickshire Police Officers with extensive off-road motorcycling backgrounds. One of them is a bag pipe player and will probably be good for plenty of entertainment during the trip (see below).

Bob and Neil organized and hosted a successful Pub Quiz event not long ago that helped put them over their required minimum to participate in the ride this year. They were kind enough to share with me key lessons learned from the experience.

Take a look at their blog, as it is full of interesting experiences and perspectives on EA from their side of the pond. And I'm sure they'd always welcome donations. See Bob & Neil's Enduro Africa.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Glover examines the spread of HIV: Tanzania

A recent UNICEF story highlights the critical absence of men as participants in HIV prevention, the adverse impact of stigma and discrimination on persons living with the virus that causes AIDS, the challenges of engaging youth, and other factors that worsen the epidemic in developing country contexts:

Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover visits HIV/AIDS programmes in Tanzania

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 8 July 2009 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and noted actor Danny Glover came to Tanzania to support this year’s Zanzibar International Film Festival, and he also used the opportunity to highlight issues related to HIV – particularly prevention of mother-to-child transmission, or PMTCT, as well as stigma and discrimination against children and their families affected by the virus.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Photo Series of Supporters: Mike

Syracuse, NY
Scientist/Mentor Extraordinaire

Friday, July 10, 2009

85 Days and counting (and a Google challenge)

In the 3 months remaining before the start of my Enduro Africa adventure, I'm beginning to feel a bit daunted by the number of things I still need to do, including immunizations, off road riding training, completing a final round of fundraising, building my physical fitness and endurance (and losing 10 lbs.), finishing my EA soundtrack, buying off road riding gear, etc. But there's a new challenge I've set my sights on, and I'll need your help to reach it.

Here it is: If you Google "enduro" and "africa", this blog generally emerges in the top 5 of the returns. Initially, this tickled me to no end. Today, I see that it has climbed to position number 2, just after the organizer's own website. And now, that's not good enough for me. I want the pole position!

In the next few weeks, I'll ask all of you to do a simple thing - just visit my blog on the exact same day. The number of hits could propel Andrew's Enduro Africa 2009 to the number 1 position. Better yet, I'll ask you to consider adding a link to your facebook, website, or blog pages. You can delete them later, but just give me this one little ray of hope, ok?

Now, I can hear you saying "this is loading a little heavily on the Techno-Geek factor for you, Andrew". And you'd be right. Trying to game Google like this is just sad, sad I tells you. But it's the small things in life, really, that keep us plodding along. Just get your browsers ready, people - ok??

Stay tuned. The adventure continues!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

andrew's EA soundtrack - coming soon

Many of you know that I'm compiling a soundtrack for my Enduro Africa project and you have generously suggested a number of African musicians to add to the mix (please keep the recommendations coming).

Leading contenders include the likes of Maryam Marsal, Thomas Mapfumo, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and others. I am still considering a track by Algerian-born DJ Cheb i Sabbeh, despite having uncovered a clip of him playing what looks like your average late-80s Hampshire College sound and light show (or is Burning Man just Camp Hamp's third campus?). My favorite is the dancing cow. Yours?

Inevitably, I'll include a track by the DC-based, internationally-influenced Thievery Corporation. Here's one of their performances to tide you over while I continue to do my research. Please to enjoy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A donor speaks out

One of the most rewarding parts of my participation in Enduro Africa thus far has been the chance it has created to raise awareness about the devastating impact HIV continues to have, both globally and domestically.

And from time to time, I hear the most touching stories from others. Not long ago, a generous donor sent the following note:
I read about your upcoming journey in The Gazette. Your sense of adventure and your work with HIV/AIDS is inspirational.

I had the opportunity to live and work in rural East Africa ten years ago and I have also witnessed the devastating effects of the then unspeakable disease.

I am grateful to people like you, who are assisting people to find treatment and who care.

I wish you well on your path and hope the people of Africa nourish your soul the way they did mine.

I'm still floored by this note.

But in truth, my contribution to the global fight against HIV through Enduro Africa pales by comparison to the things so many people in the world are doing. Even so, it has been an unexpected opportunity to bring attention to a critical issue. And for for that, I'm extremely grateful.

Thanks, donors and fans one and all. Please keep sending your comments - or simply post them here.

And stay tuned. The adventure continues.