S.F. couple cycling globe in Love World Tour 

Songs have been written about it and people have lost their rational minds over it. Now, one San Francisco couple is cycling around the world to promote "love."

In what could be a post-modern resurgence of a Haight-Ashbury-esque love fest — with a twist of sports-minded brilliance — Bertrand and Risa Boudreau have embarked on Love World Tour. The couple will take turns cycling around the planet to draw attention to love, not war.

"We looked around one day and saw that there was so much attention on war," Bertrand Boudreau says.

"Peoplewere against it," adds Risa, "and there was this war against war and all this fighting for no-war, and we thought, ‘We really need to understand that only love can make things go forward; the fighting is not going anywhere.’ We will just concentrate on love."

It’s all they need at the moment, apparently. That and some spare inner tubes.

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Bertrand, 52, does the majority of the cycling each day — between 60 and 100 miles. When she’s not cycling, Risa, 46, mans the Love World Tour mobile, a 1976 Mercedes with the tour’s bright green logo on the front, sides and back. (A more modern van is on the couple’s wish list.) Curiously, the man nixes cycle shorts and shoes for more comfortable black shorts and red Nikes.

The bike: a 27-gear Giant.

The Boudreaus aren’t just spinning their wheels for love’s sake. They want to contribute to noteworthy causes. Portions of proceeds they receive from selling $5 wristbands and taking $1 donations will be distributed to nonprofit organizations.

Among them is Whirlwind Wheelchair International, a program of the Urban Institute at San Francisco State University birthed in 1989 by SFSU engineering professor Peter Pfaelzer and wheelchair design titan Ralf Hotchkiss. The program teaches students how to make wheelchairs for countries in need by using recycled bicycle parts.

The remainder of the funds will go to AIDS organizations, and water and global warming causes.

"We’d like some of the donations to stay within the communities we are visiting," Risa says.

"We thought it would be good to go around and say, ‘Hey what’s been done for love here, and what can be created?’" Bertrand adds. "We will try to involve other people, even students, and ask them, ‘What’s your idea about love? How can you change that in your school?’ That’s our intention because we know we are not going to change the world. That’s not the intention, it’s just to spread the idea of love."

With an estimated 72 countries on their itinerary, that’s a lot of spreading. The tour’s projected end date is March 2010.

The Boudreaus’ own love story began in 2000 when they met at Parents Day at a local Waldorf School attended by Risa’s son. Bertrand was scheduled to speak about a successful cycling tour he completed in the late-’90s which garnered more than a million dollars for AIDS causes.

Something clicked. A few years later, they opened a popular eatery on Market Street called World Sausage Grill.

Now they’re ready to take on the world. After stops in Santa Barbara this week, the couple heads to San Diego. Then it’s across Arizona and the southern U.S. toward Florida. Afterward, it’s Mexico and South America. They’ll eventually board a cargo ship in Tierra del Fuego and head wherever the currents take them.

"You really have to trust," Bertrand says. "And if you are on the right life path, the wind pushes you. And when you’re not, you hit the wall. It’s kind of simple, actually."

For more information, visit www.whirlwindwheelchair.org and www.love-world-tour.com.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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