On October the 20th, we celebrated our first anniversary of nomadic life. We took the opportunity to remember the past year and make a summary in numbers. Some figures tell a lot about our way of living during our trip so far.
Pedalling slowly: 11655 kilometres travelled in 207 days through 18 countries
This means that we cycled 57% of the time and travelled an average of 56.3 kilometres a day. Our two longest days were:
–152 kilometres in 8h16 with more than 45 degrees (in the shade) whilst in Azerbaijan with Floriane, Noémie’s sister
–154 kilometres in 9 hours 30 minutes fighting a mountain pass in a snowstorm in Kyrgyzstan.
These long days are the exception, as we have crossed the 100-kilometre mark only 18 times, compared to 46 days under 30 kilometres. Our shortest day? 20 minutes and one kilometre uphill to park our bikes behind a church and walk to a cave where we played hermit for five days. In short, we like to take our time.
Climbing too little: 50 days in 4 different countries
We climbed 10 days in Osp Slovenia, 5 days in Rovinj in Croatia, 4 days on the island of Hvar in Croatia, 1 day in the vicinity of Dubrovnik in Croatia, 1 day in Meteora in Greece, 25 days in Kalymnos in Greece, 1 day in Olympos, Turkey and 3 days in Aladaglar, Turkey.
We have used our 8kg of climbing gear way less than we had imagined. We have greatly overestimated our ability to bring together cycling and climbing. Being in the right season at the right place is not easy when you choose to only travel by bike. Bad climatic conditions along the Adriatic coast and then in Turkey have also reduced the time spent on rock. We hope to reverse the trend in Southeast Asia by reducing the distances to cover between each cliff and spending a minimum of 15 days on each site. We are hoping to be at our best in late spring, the idea being to return to Kyrgyzstan next June to go big walling in a lost valley in the borderlands between with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Eating a lot: 10 days of maximum autonomy
With 900ml of petrol, we can cook rather elaborate morning, lunch and dinner meals for six to eight days. Although we cook with petrol, food is our fuel. The problem is that the more we carry, the heavier we are and the more we need to eat … Even if over time we have reduced the quantities we are carrying, we always try to have enough food to be able to spend a non-cycling day in a place we like. In Tajikistan, a detour through the Zorkul National Park involved travelling 300 kilometres without seeing a village. Due of the elevation, the altitude and the state of the roads, we gave ourselves 10 days. Means 10 days of supplies on our bikes. No need to say that after 4 days, our diet varied between garlic pasta and onion rice. At the last minute, we had the idea to buy 2kg of flour. What for? Bread with dried apricots and walnuts cooked over a wood fire, cinnamon pancakes fried in a pan, pancakes with peanuts, etc etc. In short, when we don’t pedal and we don’t climb, we spend our time eating (well, Noémie eats what Adam makes!).
Sleeping outside: 215 nights in the tent, 25 bivouacs
20 nights hosted free of charge with friends, warmshowers hosts or generous strangers. 25 nights bivouacking or squatting abandoned buildings without pitching the tent. 105 nights paying for hotels, youth hostels, pension hotels, homestays, guesthouses and paid camping. 215 nights under canvas, including 23 in campsites or hostel gardens.
In total, we enjoyed 237 free nights (65% of nights). Knowing that we had planned never to pay for sleeping (except in special circumstances), that’s a big difference. This is due to many factors that have made our lives more complicated than expected: the cold of winter, bad food poisoning in Turkey, a long wait for our Uzbek visa in Azerbaijan and for our Chinese visa in Kazakhstan. The good thing about staying in those places is that we met lots of people. Nonetheless, what we like above all is the freedom of wild camping. Sleeping in incredible spots with a view in complete tranquility is our definition of luxury.
Meeting adventurers: 13 travelling companions
Even though we left just the two of us, we finally spent a lot of time riding with company. Thanks to a bit of organisation, we managed to share our way of life whilst travelling with those close to us: our friend Hannes in Germany, then Sylvain (Noémie’s brother) for two and a half months from Croatia to Greece and Floriane (Noémie’s sister) for 10 days from Georgia to Azerbaijan. More spontaneously, we made some friends and shared a section of the route from a few days to a few weeks with Matt , Marc & Esteban , Katie & Jeff , Antoine & Stéphane , Constantino , Thomas & Romain . To give you an idea in numbers, of our 207 days of cycling, only 100 of them were spent as a two!
Sharing our daily life with strangers we meet randomly along the way is an great way to take a step back from our routine and to learn from the tips and tricks of others. This is the best way to get to know great travellers with very different motivations, ages, and backgrounds.
From Baku to Almaty we had the feeling of being part of a huge community of cyclists and backpackers, meeting each other, hearing from each other, staying in contact through the others.. Tajikistan, this little heard of and somewhat isolated country, wedged between Uzbekistan, Pakistan, China and Kyrgyzstan is the one where, surprisingly, we have met the most adventurers by bike!
In general however, we meet locals more often than we walk into other travellers. Despite the language barrier, exchanges are always rich. Children absolutely want to test our bells, parents ask where are our children, and the elderly are fascinated by our little map of the world we take out to show them where we came from. One of the first things we learn in a new language? Numbers. How long have we been on the road for, how old are we, how many kilometres have we travelled, how many children do we have?
Taking out the wallet: 12 different currencies
During the year, we felt more or less rich depending on the country. €1 is not worth the same everywhere:
Albania is the first country where we felt we had a lot of money. Later on, we arrived in Uzbekistan and became millionaires overnight by changing little more than 100 euros. The problem is that these millions were not worth much (2000 som buys a loaf of bread). Finally, the exchange rate does not tell you much about the standard of living and the cheapest countries are not always those who give you big bank notes. The cheapest country we have crossed so far is Tajikistan. We spent 42 days there with a budget of €300 for the two of us. In general, we can say that life on a bike is cheap (well, when we don’t lose anything, when nothing gets broken, when the health insurance covers our medical expenses and when we’re not rejected 3 visas in just a few months…)
Travelling in time: 6 time zones
Barely three days after the start of the trip, we were setting our watches forward by one hour when arriving in the Netherlands. Five months later, much further south, we passed a new timezone upon entering Greece. 3000 kilometres further, we lost an hour more when reaching Georgia. Crossing the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan made us advance an hour for the fourth time. Finally, Kyrgyzstan marks the last stage of this year of travelling in time. Passing time-borders is something fascinating. Borders between countries are clearly visible but the transition from one time zone to another is so gradual that when the moment comes to change the time, we are already prepared. One of the many benefits of living outside at the pace of the sun.