“You always have time for the things you put first.”
That’s right, in Kathmandu I met a couple who has been riding for the last seven and a half years around the world, racking up over 75,000km in the process. When Kevin yelled down to me “Shirine, I see touring bikes! There are other cyclists here!” I never expected to meet some of the most well traveled cyclists around. Though we only got to speak briefly with them as we all happened to be shifting hotels, here is a small glimpse into their amazing story.
“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.”
“Wow, you must know everything about bikes!”
Nope, I know absolutely nothing. I changed my first (and only) flat on the road once my trip had already begun, and I still don’t know how to do anything else.
“Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road.”
People always ask me where I am going. Not just that day or week, I mean, overall. How long will I be on the road, what countries will I be passing through… It is understandable, I mean, you see a gal on a bike and you figure she has a destination, right? And I do always have a plan, my plan just tends to change dramatically on a monthly (sometimes even daily) basis.
“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.”
My tent has turned into my home, my bike into my best friend, and the world into my playground. I have no deadlines to keep or appointments to make. No stress or frustration to deal with. And my hardest daily decision typically involves picking what type of noodles I feel like making. I am living in an alternate universe, in a world where nothing can take me by surprise. I live in a world where seeing an enormous yak meander down the street, sleeping in a small stone hut with a tarp for a roof, and showering in a river seems perfectly normal… because it is. For the last 180 days I have been living the life of my dreams, cycling through the unknown on a quest to live and experience life around the world.
I was going to make a list of the gear I couldn’t live without, but the list was pretty boring and predictable… Sleeping bag, Birkenstocks, camera… You get the picture. So instead I started to pay attention to the little things I use, things you wouldn’t necessarily think of bringing, but that end up making a difference.
“The advantages? Exercise, no parking problems, gas prices, it’s fun. An automobile is expensive. You have to find a place to park and it’s not fun. So why not ride a bicycle? I recommend it.”
How is it that 20km of flat can be harder than 40km straight uphill? Because cycling is a mental game. Most five year olds can happily ride their bike around the block, and touring really isn’t that different. Sure, you are doing a few more kilometers, and hopefully can cycle a bit faster than them, but it’s the same simple motion. It is always possible to turn your pedals just one more time. Sometimes though, that one push seems much harder than others.