He dared to dream big and to realize his dream. Micky Chebli decided for his 50th birthday to cycle for life. The Lebanese father, humanitarian and athlete succeeded in cycling from Paris to Beirut in May 2016 completing 4000 km in 35 days. His ultimate goal was to overcome the challenge while raising money to help three Lebanese local NGOs.
Wearing a smile and a bicycle bracelet, Micky talked about his journey to HOME Magazine.
“Cycling for life was my way of giving back to a life that has been so generous towards me and to understand the world differently,” states Micky. For him, pain is temporary but saving a child is forever. The experience allowed him to raise $198,000 to help three NGOs: Oum el Nour, that is specialized in drug prevention and rehabilitation, Les Petits Soleils that offers free health care for children in need, and Myschoolpulse that brings schools to hospitals and offers education to children undergoing treatment for life - threatening diseases. It all begun in 2008 when financial markets around the world crashed.
"From Paris to Beirut to raise $198,000 to help three NGOs"
Micky who was working in the banking sector, used to travel a lot. He was living abroad for a period of time, for him, it was a very unhealthy way of life and he started to feel the pressure. The crash was a wake- up call for him to change some aspects of his being.
In February 2009, he came back to Lebanon and decided to change things for good. He took up running. In November 2009, he ran his first marathon in Beirut and raised some money for Oum el Nour. From this point on a new passion was born, 2009 was the year of changes for Micky and his priorities shifted from banking to sports.
In 2015, Micky came up with a plan. "I was about to turn 50 and I really wanted to chase a new dream and to challenge myself. I decided to do something that no cyclist had done before and to bike from to Beirut while helping people in need. I felt it is a privilege to make his journey. That was my dream, my challenge."
The journey was not easy. Micky took a one - way ticket from Beirut to Paris and started the adventure from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with the support of the Lebanese Embassy in France.
He had to complete 130 km every day. He biked all the way down through France and continued to the southern Italy coastal city of Brindisi where he took a boat to Italy. He crossed Greece and then took the plane from Greece to Izmir in Turkey.
“It was so hot in Greece and Turkey; the weather was a nightmare. The temperature was close to 52 degrees. I had to change the whole strategy of the trip and to start biking very early every day to avoid the hot weather as much as possible. I had a van following me with an extra bike. The van broke down, the bike didn’t!”
Turkey was the last destination before taking the plane to Beirut and then back on the bike for the final leg from Beirut to Byblos. Despite all the challenges, obstacles, pain and loneliness, Micky says “that ride was the best bike ride ever. It was a detoxification of my body and soul. Spending six hours alone every day is a way to go through everything in your life. My dreams and my priorities have changed because of this challenge. This experience brought me balance and inner peace and helped me to better understand myself”. Many people, family members, friends, organizations and sponsors supported Micky during his journey. This support helped Micky to achieve his dream. He was reading their encouraging messages all the way. He says: “I didn’t want to disappoint my wife and kids and everyone who believed in me. The pictures of kids from the three NGOs I was helping kept me going forward and the prospect of raising a life changing amount of money for them made my hard journey bearable, and my dad who accompanied me helped complete my quest.”
"Spending six hours alone every day is a way to go through everything in your life"
This was his 50th birthday gift and he shared it with Lebanese children. He wanted to be an inspiration to his family and to other people. His message to them is “dare to dream, dream big and go all the way to achieve your dream. And if you do so, try to make the less fortunate people feel happier”.
Micky’s next challenge is to cycle from New York to San Francisco (a 4000 km journey) and he intends to complete it in 40 days. Meanwhile, he is still running almost every day.
Micky Chebli is a cyclist for life; his dream is that in the future thousands of people will be cycling for life. Today he is more than ready for the next cycle of his life.