Article
Challenge
Thanks!
Challenge us!
1


Such a crazy challenge
By Pierre

Bang! On April 25th 2015, we all learnt about the terrible earthquake that shook Nepal, in particular the route between the Tibet and Nepal. My hope to reach Delhi by land faced an unexpected circumstance. While I was looking for a way to reach Delhi or Dubai where I had plane tickets to fly home, I got advised to use bicycle through Central Asia. Benoît used and arranged this idea and made it possible: we flew to Istanbul and from there, WE RETURNED HOME WITH BIKES!

2



One of the biggest challenges of our journey!

We had pushed away our limits lots of times: we climbed the Licancabur volcano, we survived motorbike accidents in South-East Asia, we surpassed the Himalayan passes alone or accompanied, but this plan gave a new dimension to our trip! The two of us, plus two bikes, a tent and the perspective of a return that would allow us to acclimatize gradually to our native land that is Europe.

3



The useful stuffs

On one side, the famous bike of Benoît named Tornado with a wild character!
On another side, Pierre, always well accompanied, chose Laëtitia to accompany his adventure.
The brand of our bikes is Bianchi, the famous Italian constructor, but the bikes got assembled in Turkey. We had road bikes of an average good quality. The last pennies of our budget allowed us to optimize our choices. We chose:
- One carrier and two luggage’s of 15 litres, resistant in the rain, and our own backpack that finished the trip on the top of them. 15 kg max.
- A cover of saddle with some gel to make it more comfortable. The Brooks saddle were over our budget.
- A more ergonomic handlebars and horns.
- Bottle-carrier for have 2 litres of water on average.
- A great anti-theft device.
- An extra inner tube.
- A simple pump.
- Rubber patches, the glue, defuses tire.
- One Hex key B' Twin.
- Some oil for lubrication.

4



The preparation

Our physical condition and our motivation allowed us to skip the preparation. We started slowly (50 km the first day) and we never forgot the importance of the rest after the slightest physical pip. This was the assurance to finish the trip till the end (unless you got crashed by a Rumanian or Turkish reckless driver). Eat well, sleep well and hydrate you a lot. It is necessary to take good care of the machine.

5



A summer arrival to Istanbul

Such an atmosphere of the Mediterranean Sea surrounds the Strait of the Bosporus. Benoît almost took back the accent from Marseille! Istanbul was also the discovery of the Turkish hospitality, a model of hospitality. We were totally open-mouthed to discover that! We also visited the former Holy Sophie church, that became a mosque and then a museum in the centre of the former Byzantium.

6



Edirne' ye gidiyozmun!

"We go to Edirne", this was one of our sentences we learnt along roads. The countrymen sat at the terrace of café, with a cup of tea the hand, wondered why we were biking under the sun. We ran early in the morning (before noon) and late in the afternoon (after 16 hours) to avoid the sun exposure so hardly in Thrace.

7



????????

We crossed our first border by bicycle. Our passports were not necessary anymore! We entered in Bulgaria so in European Union! After a cold contact with the inhabitants, Benoît succeeded in the talking with the Bulgarians and we got invited in the local distillery then within a village where a Turkish minority lived. Hence we could tell our stories and our route, visit Perperikon, an historical city, live a typical day with local and taste all the fruits that are everywhere in the country.

8



The Balkans mountains

We left the unbearable heat to cold down up there above the Balkans channels in the Rhodopes in the southwest of Bulgaria. We passed of a height of 275m to Karzhali in 1400m to Yundola in three days, and believe us it was not an easy walk. A too strong push on the pedal and crack: the ligament behind my knee partially tore. I got an inflammation, a severe pain and one rest day with Angel, this big-hearted retired man, who came and squatted in our camp location with its campervan and its cowardly mutt which barked all night long.

9



When history facts change our daily life!

Our plan of road has never been clearly defined. But in every plan, our path crossed the city of Belgrade. But other people followed the same route than us during this autumn 2015: a wave of Syrian refugees broke out on Europe. The UE decided to close its borders in particular between Hungary and ... Serbia. The consulate of Sofia advised us to stay in Europe over all. We took the direction of Romania. We celebrated our thousandth kilometre once we reached the Danube.

10



The Roms and the Romanians in Romania

Arrived at Calafat, a border city where I noticed many analogies with my memories of India: on one side shanty towns, young begging Roms, a population very interested in us and warmup welcome. Cycling this very agricultural country where carts filled with hay tried to compete with our speed, we learnt where the Roms are from (India). Also we discovered the hideous "Palaces" with double roofs that Roms build with the money they get back of their collection. The habitation is never ended and will never be taxed ... a scandalous horror.

11



Flat Hungary

We pursued our way towards this country known for its absence of relief. A wall of obstacles (wind, rain and food poisoning) forced us to take a bus to Budapest, to allow us to visit this attractive European capital and to meet our deadlines.

12



Stroll along the Danube

Following the Hungarian and Slovak borders before reaching Vienna, we made big days of cycling. With an average of hundred and twenty kilometres a day, we arrived to Bratislava where Matthias guided us into the city during a memorable night-visit.

13



Expected reunions

That it is difficult to find an attraction more attractive than the spectacular Vienna. Such a big architecturally speaking marvel with the castle of Schönbrunn where the princess Sissi lived! But reunions with Benoît's parents, after eleven months of separation, became a bigger centre of interest. 2100 km: we are more or less in the middle of the way.

14



The New Zealand in Europe

We moved away of the Euro velo 6 following the Danube to follow the feet of the Alps. A set of big lakes, big pastures and big passes reminded us great memories from the other end of the world. This time by bicycle, we were not hiking anymore but we still climbed passes after passes to prepare our legs before the Alps.

15



Bavaria

Big half-timbered households appeared to the horizon and around each, a perfect set for mountain dweller. The greatness of Bavaria displayed under our eyes.

16



Along the Rhine

The main goal of our program was the crossing of the Alps in Switzerland. We skipped it. Saddened by the sadness and the coldness of the country and its inhabitants, we preferred to follow the Rhine on the border between Germany and Switzerland, to return home more quickly and avoid a weather which forecast could have been terrible for us. Here is the photography of the falls of the Rhine. Also inevitable, we recommend the city of Constance.

17



Our so beloved country

350 days ago, we had left France and finally we were back again in our beautiful country. And by bicycle, we rediscovered the meaning of "La Bonne Franquette" in the Golden crown of the village called Grand (so famous for its mosaic, in the Vosges). After the farm with the strawberry liquor of Riesbach, the lion in front of the fortress of Belfort, we followed the canal of the Marne until getting lost in Ambonnay in Champagne region. Unforgettable: the valley of the Autumn, allying rivers, castles and abbeys, leading us until Senlis.

18



HOME, SWEET HOME!

Restarting from Compiègne, we crossed the beet root plains of the Somme and finally I recognized the lands of Lambus and rode on the last kilometres until the very high Plouy where my family was waiting for both of us! 3966 km on a bicycle!

19



And a progressive return in the reality

Here we are, the end of a last great journey and a big project. We wanted to go at the end of the world, but also at the end of ourselves and we are rather proud of the result. In addition to that, we stand out from it with a different vision on the world, the more human values at the heart of our concerns.

1


Such a crazy challenge
By Pierre

Bang! On April 25th 2015, we all learnt about the terrible earthquake that shook Nepal, in particular the route between the Tibet and Nepal. My hope to reach Delhi by land faced an unexpected circumstance. While I was looking for a way to reach Delhi or Dubai where I had plane tickets to fly home, I got advised to use bicycle through Central Asia. Benoît used and arranged this idea and made it possible: we flew to Istanbul and from there, WE RETURNED HOME WITH BIKES!



One of the biggest challenges of our journey!

We had pushed away our limits lots of times: we climbed the Licancabur volcano, we survived motorbike accidents in South-East Asia, we surpassed the Himalayan passes alone or accompanied, but this plan gave a new dimension to our trip! The two of us, plus two bikes, a tent and the perspective of a return that would allow us to acclimatize gradually to our native land that is Europe.



The useful stuffs

On one side, the famous bike of Benoît named Tornado with a wild character!
On another side, Pierre, always well accompanied, chose Laëtitia to accompany his adventure.
The brand of our bikes is Bianchi, the famous Italian constructor, but the bikes got assembled in Turkey. We had road bikes of an average good quality. The last pennies of our budget allowed us to optimize our choices. We chose:
- One carrier and two luggage’s of 15 litres, resistant in the rain, and our own backpack that finished the trip on the top of them. 15 kg max.
- A cover of saddle with some gel to make it more comfortable. The Brooks saddle were over our budget.
- A more ergonomic handlebars and horns.
- Bottle-carrier for have 2 litres of water on average.
- A great anti-theft device.
- An extra inner tube.
- A simple pump.
- Rubber patches, the glue, defuses tire.
- One Hex key B' Twin.
- Some oil for lubrication.



The preparation

Our physical condition and our motivation allowed us to skip the preparation. We started slowly (50 km the first day) and we never forgot the importance of the rest after the slightest physical pip. This was the assurance to finish the trip till the end (unless you got crashed by a Rumanian or Turkish reckless driver). Eat well, sleep well and hydrate you a lot. It is necessary to take good care of the machine.



A summer arrival to Istanbul

Such an atmosphere of the Mediterranean Sea surrounds the Strait of the Bosporus. Benoît almost took back the accent from Marseille! Istanbul was also the discovery of the Turkish hospitality, a model of hospitality. We were totally open-mouthed to discover that! We also visited the former Holy Sophie church, that became a mosque and then a museum in the centre of the former Byzantium.



Edirne' ye gidiyozmun!

"We go to Edirne", this was one of our sentences we learnt along roads. The countrymen sat at the terrace of café, with a cup of tea the hand, wondered why we were biking under the sun. We ran early in the morning (before noon) and late in the afternoon (after 16 hours) to avoid the sun exposure so hardly in Thrace.



????????

We crossed our first border by bicycle. Our passports were not necessary anymore! We entered in Bulgaria so in European Union! After a cold contact with the inhabitants, Benoît succeeded in the talking with the Bulgarians and we got invited in the local distillery then within a village where a Turkish minority lived. Hence we could tell our stories and our route, visit Perperikon, an historical city, live a typical day with local and taste all the fruits that are everywhere in the country.



The Balkans mountains

We left the unbearable heat to cold down up there above the Balkans channels in the Rhodopes in the southwest of Bulgaria. We passed of a height of 275m to Karzhali in 1400m to Yundola in three days, and believe us it was not an easy walk. A too strong push on the pedal and crack: the ligament behind my knee partially tore. I got an inflammation, a severe pain and one rest day with Angel, this big-hearted retired man, who came and squatted in our camp location with its campervan and its cowardly mutt which barked all night long.



When history facts change our daily life!

Our plan of road has never been clearly defined. But in every plan, our path crossed the city of Belgrade. But other people followed the same route than us during this autumn 2015: a wave of Syrian refugees broke out on Europe. The UE decided to close its borders in particular between Hungary and ... Serbia. The consulate of Sofia advised us to stay in Europe over all. We took the direction of Romania. We celebrated our thousandth kilometre once we reached the Danube.



The Roms and the Romanians in Romania

Arrived at Calafat, a border city where I noticed many analogies with my memories of India: on one side shanty towns, young begging Roms, a population very interested in us and warmup welcome. Cycling this very agricultural country where carts filled with hay tried to compete with our speed, we learnt where the Roms are from (India). Also we discovered the hideous "Palaces" with double roofs that Roms build with the money they get back of their collection. The habitation is never ended and will never be taxed ... a scandalous horror.



Flat Hungary

We pursued our way towards this country known for its absence of relief. A wall of obstacles (wind, rain and food poisoning) forced us to take a bus to Budapest, to allow us to visit this attractive European capital and to meet our deadlines.



Stroll along the Danube

Following the Hungarian and Slovak borders before reaching Vienna, we made big days of cycling. With an average of hundred and twenty kilometres a day, we arrived to Bratislava where Matthias guided us into the city during a memorable night-visit.



Expected reunions

That it is difficult to find an attraction more attractive than the spectacular Vienna. Such a big architecturally speaking marvel with the castle of Schönbrunn where the princess Sissi lived! But reunions with Benoît's parents, after eleven months of separation, became a bigger centre of interest. 2100 km: we are more or less in the middle of the way.



The New Zealand in Europe

We moved away of the Euro velo 6 following the Danube to follow the feet of the Alps. A set of big lakes, big pastures and big passes reminded us great memories from the other end of the world. This time by bicycle, we were not hiking anymore but we still climbed passes after passes to prepare our legs before the Alps.



Bavaria

Big half-timbered households appeared to the horizon and around each, a perfect set for mountain dweller. The greatness of Bavaria displayed under our eyes.



Along the Rhine

The main goal of our program was the crossing of the Alps in Switzerland. We skipped it. Saddened by the sadness and the coldness of the country and its inhabitants, we preferred to follow the Rhine on the border between Germany and Switzerland, to return home more quickly and avoid a weather which forecast could have been terrible for us. Here is the photography of the falls of the Rhine. Also inevitable, we recommend the city of Constance.



Our so beloved country

350 days ago, we had left France and finally we were back again in our beautiful country. And by bicycle, we rediscovered the meaning of "La Bonne Franquette" in the Golden crown of the village called Grand (so famous for its mosaic, in the Vosges). After the farm with the strawberry liquor of Riesbach, the lion in front of the fortress of Belfort, we followed the canal of the Marne until getting lost in Ambonnay in Champagne region. Unforgettable: the valley of the Autumn, allying rivers, castles and abbeys, leading us until Senlis.



HOME, SWEET HOME!

Restarting from Compiègne, we crossed the beet root plains of the Somme and finally I recognized the lands of Lambus and rode on the last kilometres until the very high Plouy where my family was waiting for both of us! 3966 km on a bicycle!



And a progressive return in the reality

Here we are, the end of a last great journey and a big project. We wanted to go at the end of the world, but also at the end of ourselves and we are rather proud of the result. In addition to that, we stand out from it with a different vision on the world, the more human values at the heart of our concerns.

.