Homemade from bamboo
Who: Thomas Schenker (1986), teacher and photographer from Germany.
What: On a bamboo bicycle in 9 months from Friedrichshaven in Germany to Beijing in China.
“I had already given up twice during a long cycling trip. I felt lonely and I was unable to finish the routes. Those long distances weren’t for me, I thought.
But my dream of going on a long trip remained. More than ten years later, I cycled eastward on the Silk Road, this time not focusing on the mileage, but on the experience.
The unfiltered proximity to your surroundings is what makes cycling so beautiful. Because you don’t rush past, you come into contact with people very easily. There is no windshield between you and them. I wanted to cycle roads next to the Silk Road, which meant through gravel and mud, but also steppe and desert.
In order not to sink into the sand, I needed a bike with thicker tires. So I built my own fat bike, with a bamboo frame. A challenge because I had never put together a bicycle myself, let alone made of bamboo. After two weeks on the road in Turkey, I had to fly back home to have an essential part replaced. But after that I crossed all of Asia by bicycle without any problems.
The crossing of the sand dunes through the Gobi desert (China and Mongolia, ed.) Was unforgettable. Not knowing whether I would be able to conquer these dunes with my heavily loaded bicycle, when I had to get off before a sandstorm in Iran, made this the most exciting and challenging part of my journey. ”
Just with the whole family
Who: Agueda (1980), Noel (1980), both architects, with daughters Vera (2016) and Asia (2013), from Spain
What: 1 month through Patagonia, 10 days in Iceland, 3 weeks from Zurich to Budapest
“On our travels around the world we met many families and what was striking was that the children along the way were so much happier with so much less than we could imagine than those growing up in society. All the more reason for us to keep traveling even if we had children.
Cycling is the perfect way to wander and find new roads. Literally and figuratively. It’s not about the destination, but about the journey there. Thanks to the pace of travel, you will experience the places and people you visit more intensely than is possible with other modes of transport.
Cycling with children requires greater sacrifice from parents. In addition to cycling itself, we also have to take care of our children, who are – unlike ourselves – rested and full of energy at the end of the day.
But if you are flexible and can show some patience, you will notice that after a few days everything falls into place and the advantages of traveling with children outweigh the disadvantages. ”
Love on the go
Ⓒ photo Javier Martinez
Who: Javier Martinez (1983), photographer from Spain
Where: 9 years on the road through Asia, Europe, Africa, South America
“As a photojournalist, I came across conflict zones all over the world, but at one point it made me so mentally tired that I decided to go back home. I decided I wanted to travel the world to share more optimistic stories and a word of hope.
After a few months of preparation, at home in London, I boarded a plane to Indonesia where I started my solo journey around the world. I never imagined that love would give me a break after nine years of cycling. But this is not the end of my journey, just a small and cherished interruption.
Traveling by bike gives you the chance to see the world at a perfect pace: not too slow, not too fast. What I also love is that while you travel you also move so that your body produces a lot more endorphins: the happiness hormone. Cycling alone offers you the opportunity to be more open to the world. When you meet someone, the connection is much greater.
I was lucky to have encountered the most beautiful thing I could have ever imagined along the way. Becoming a father was the most exciting adventure I’ve been on. I can’t wait to finish my trip to Alaska with my new family in a few years. ”
Get out of the rut
Ⓒ photo Julien Loth & Thibault Michel
Who: Thibault (1992), structural engineer, and Julien (1992) from France
Where: 7 months from Bolivia to Colombia
“As five-year-old boys, we played hide and seek in the schoolyard. A lot has changed since then, but our friendship has never ceased to exist. After our paths took different directions, we wanted to live together again the passion we have shared since childhood: cycling. We wanted to get away from our daily work routines and lives that didn’t quite suit us.
When we decided to take a long cycling trip, we had to come up with the destination. It became South America. We were drawn to the culture, colors, music and the height of the Andes, the second highest mountain range in the world.
As fairly inexperienced cyclists, we had way too much with us, especially at the beginning of our trip casual clothing like jeans, extra shoes, shirts and so on. We even dragged a guitar with us for a few months, until it fell apart in Ecuador. Slowly but surely we left the trivial things behind that allowed us to ride more while taking it easier.
Having someone you can rely on makes life on the road easier. Love, pain, daily troubles: Just the thought of having an understanding friend with you makes all the difference. Just like having someone with you with whom you can make bad jokes that you can laugh about together. ”
Who: Pablo Calvo (1983), writer, photo and videographer and dog Hippie (2010)
Where: at 4 months Southern European coast and Morocco 9 months North Cape Expedition (Spain – North Cape), 15 months through Spain, 12 months Oriental Nomads (from Spain to Georgia).
“After 25 years of doing many different jobs, I finally found that going back to my roots, discovering the world with my bike, a backpack and a dog like I did as a child, makes me the happiest.
After my first cycling trip in 2010, I quickly became addicted. In 2015 I decided to give up my safe life and travel the world with my dog. I share our adventures with the Bikecanine project.
Traveling with a dog has its challenges such as transport and finding accommodations. But otherwise it only brings benefits, especially if your dog like Hippie is well trained and, for example, can jump up and down while you ride, so that you never lose your pedaling rhythm.
We attract a lot of attention along the way, because you don’t often see a dog on a bicycle. People approach us curiously and with a smile on their face. Almost everyone loves cycling and dogs, so cycling with a four-legged friend is a great way to meet people. ”
Real relationship test
Who: ThereI van der Munnik (1978), engineer and Maudi Bos (1989) adventurer
Where: 2 years of cycling from the Netherlands to Cambodia
“We lived anti-squat in and around Alkmaar for years. Neither of us felt the need to pursue a career or have a mortgage. We wanted to be free, but in the meantime we wanted to do something big and we searched for a long time for what that could be. One thing was certain: we wanted to discover the world and ourselves in a way that would be self-sufficient.
After many conversations and encounters with others, we discovered that a modest bike gave us the opportunity to get off the beaten track, stay fit and keep travel costs low. A bicycle is a simple machine that can turn an adventurous far-away dream into an achievable goal. We love hiking, but came to the conclusion that it is too slow to discover the world.
Bikes give us the freedom to go where we want, hurry up, change our plans … They are easy to maintain and fun to do. We knew this was going to be a test of our relationship. The base was already fairly stable, but on a trip like us on it, all the positive and negative qualities of a person are magnified. Moreover, you cannot easily go your own way. We were together 24 hours a day for two years and our relationship has certainly been tested, but we have come out stronger than ever before. ”