Alumni Spotlight: Isaac Manobla and Heinrich Flaig, '13 B.S. Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism

CSU Grads Bike to World Cup and Promote Sustainability
Isaac Manobla and Heinrich Flaig, '13 B.S. Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism
After graduating from Colorado State University, Isaac Manobla and Heinrich Flaig wanted to do something epic while serving a good cause. So, they decided to travel from San Diego, Calif. to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil in the most environmentally friendly way they knew how - by bicycle.
biking downhill“The speed of bike travel actually allows you to see, feel and smell the place you’re traveling through. This is often missed when traveling in a car or bus,” Flaig said.

Armed with Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism degrees from CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, the pair embarked on a 225 day journey through 12 countries with a mission of sharing knowledge and building support for a more sustainable way of life. They rode bikes for most of the way, and traveled by boat when needed and plane for one small section from Panama to Ecuador. They immersed themselves in different cultures along the way by staying with local families and helping out in the communities they visited.

Fresh out of Warner College, the pair felt their expedition was perfect timing. “To go from learning about these things at school to using them in the field was massive,” Flaig said.

Two-Way Education
During their journey, the pair taught people about sustainable living and low-impact lifestyles while also learning about the local culture themselves.
Flaig and Cisse studying a map
Manobla feels that traveling by bicycle showed both locals and tourists that a bicycle is an amazing means of transportation not only locally but internationally as well. “It’s the best way to travel because you see every little village and every little crack in the road,” Manobla said. “It’s slow but cheap and the best adrenaline rush you can find!”

The cycling duo also educated people they met about the importance of locally grown foods with the help of their pet chicken named Cisse. They noticed that some people had never seen or touched a live chicken before. By letting them hold Cisse, they were able to show people where their meat and eggs came from.

The education was reciprocated, as the pair learned from the locals as well. In addition to cultural norms and traditions, Manobla and Flaig also learned new agriculture techniques from the local permaculturist farmers. “They work with their hands and let nature guide their process,” Manobla said. “From companion planting to mulching trees for moisture to using compost made from their waste, the locals were teaching us all sorts of things.”

The Future and Their Organization

Manobla and Flaig run an organization called Sustainably South. Their bike tour to the World Cup doubled as a great adventure and a business trip. It allowed them to raise awareness for their organization and message as well as scout out locations to start up a sustainable permaculture farm where people can volunteer and work the land. 

They strive to develop a sense of community by meeting people from all over the world who share their interests—farming, conserving natural landscapes and promoting ecotourism.

The pair hopes to inspire people to rethink the way they are living and do things that are out of the ordinary, like biking 5,592 miles to 
watch an internationally recognized sporting event. “If we can ride bikes to Brazil, then you can ride your bike to wherever you want to,” Flaig said. 

Posted September 10, 2014
Written by Marissa Isgreen