Nightly News   |  March 27, 2013

Afghan women bike racers train in secret

Sidestepping threats and jeers, the Afghan women on the country’s national cycling team are risking their lives to compete and doing their part to help women’s rights race forward in the war-torn nation. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight our making a difference report comes from kabul in afghanistan . it's a story about the role and rights of women there and something special that so many of us take for granted here. so we get our report this evening from nbc's mike taibbi .

>> reporter: with unbridled joy and a hundred-watt smile a teenager named salma is leading a revolution on a bicycle. in fact, in a country whereby custom and history women rarely drive cars and almost never ride bikes she is not just the leader of the riders, she's the best rider on the new afghan riding team and a symbol of hope for afghan women. winning medals in competitions and shaping a dream.

>> translator: to wave the flag of afghanistan in the olympics, to prove to the world that women in afghanistan have progressed.

>> reporter: salma and her teammates only ride because a colorado mountain bike rider who pedalled the remote trails in afghanistan during years as relief worker wanted to expand the sport she loved to the country she'd come to love.

>> it's more than sport. it's a symbol of freedom.

>> reporter: when galpin learned the best rider was forming a team and intended to include female race rs she jumped in. her mountain to mountain nonprofit collecting rooms full of donated bikes and gear.

>> if they are willing to take the risk the least we can do is support them.

>> reporter: the risks are real. death threats, constant harassment. so predictable the whole team trains in secret dodging trucks and road hazards on the edge of town. the girls always in head scarves, full sleeves and long pants, fighting the stubborn taboo. in kabul 's main bicycle mart the idea of women riding bikes to work, to the market, to get from here to there meets one response. [ speaking in a foreign language ]

>> reporter: women should not ride a bicycle, we were told. salma said while some intimidate us, others encourage and the afghan racers, now with their first passports are ready to show the world one aspect of whatever afghanistan will turn into will not be rolled back. mike taibbi , nbc news, kabul .