Let me introduce to you my newest idols; A French family who has cycle toured for a month or two every year from Norway to Morocco to Kyrgyzstan, as well as mountain biked, trekked, and skiied, through various mountain ranges around the world for the last decade as a family, ever since their oldest child was just a few months old. When we met them in Cusco they were one month into a three month tour with their eleven year old boy (who rides his own bike with two panniers), their eight year old girl (who rides with mom on the tandem), and their four year old boy who usually rides in the trailer (though he is jealous of his cycling siblings and is therefore allowed to cycle, on his own tiny running push bike, at least a few kilometers everyday as well). I spent most of my waking hours with these awesome kids and was extremely impressed at how well behaved they were, how well they played together, and how knowledgeable they were about the world. These are kids who will happily tell you about the monasteries they visited during a remote trek they did in Nepal, about the time a truck followed them for an hour during the night in Peru to protect them from speeding cars, and about the friendly people throughout the whole of Kyrgyzstan, all the while drawing, laughing, and running around like any normal kid would.
During their cycling break in Cusco the whole family embarked on a five day multi 5,000m pass trek and I think it was the first time in my life that I’ve ever seen a four, eight, and eleven year not complain when they found out that they would spend the next few days hiking uphill. These kids have been canoeing, cycling, camping, and doing just about every other outdoor activity possible since they were babies and therefore find the idea of a multi day trek not only normal, but appealing. Besides the family’s obvious sense of adventure, they were also an amazing example of a family who laughed a lot, and fought very little, which made hanging out with them a blast. Seeing families such as these give us faith that someday we too can have the family (and adventures!) we both dream of.
Both parents are hydro-engineers back home in France who use their alloted vacation time every year spending quality time together as a family in some of the prettiest places on earth. In order to make things work and save money they have sewed their own sleeping bags for the kids, put cheap tents together (instead of buying a new expensive one), and have their oldest boy riding on a one-hundred dollar bike they bought years ago. That being said, they also make the trip as easy as possible for the kids – meaning they usually only complete 40-50km/day – so that everyone still looks forward to next years adventure.
Check out their blog and awesome videos here! The first one listed (from Nepal) the eleven year old boy narrated and though it’s in French, I’ll vouch that he did an absolutely amazing job.
It’s hard to impress upon people who don’t cycle tour just how many of us there are in the world – especially throughout South America – and just how possible it is for everyone to enjoy this lifestyle. Besides the family I’m now completely in love with, we also met a twenty-year old German backpacker who, after six weeks of backpacking through Bolivia, bought a local bike and gear in order to finish his trip through Peru by bike.
We also reconnected with two of our friends from the casa del ciclista of La Paz, a French (26 years old) and Austrian (24 years old) who have been traveling from Ushuaia and will finish next month in Lima. The Austrian, like the German I talked about above, bought his gear in Ushuaia after a few months of frustrating experiences on buses and in touristic towns and is now happily converted to the cycling way of life for the rest of his days. He has two open buckets for panniers, and has had something like forty flats (his tires are skinny and cheap!) but nevertheless he was one of the happiest and most energetic cyclists I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
And here is the bike of a Colombian who has been cycling through south America, proving that you really only need a few bucks to begin this kind of journey. His whole set up cost less than 100$.
There were also two French couples cycling from Ushuaia to Colombia, a German gentleman in his sixties who has completed over 70,000km of cycle touring throughout his lifetime, and a lightweight mountain biking British guy who has done the continental divide; a route that is very high on our list as well. While Kevin and the German cyclist did a four day cycle through the sacred valley, I hung out with my fellow two wheelers back in Cusco simply enjoying the fact that there are so many other people down here who live life in the same sort of way as us. The reason there were so many cyclists in this hostel is because, through word of mouth, every single cyclist who passes through Cusco stays at this place which means there are always other two-wheelers whenever you come!
A few photos from when we left the Casa Del Ciclista in La Paz.