Adam, 28, British. Detests tidying anything but his climbing equipment and adores his guitalele. Fluent in French, history and music. He will be chief photographer/videographer of the journey. With carabiners in hand he calls upon his experience of El Capitan to manage the climbing objectives. After having cycled from Chamonix to the Dolomites and from Lyon to the Calanques he’s looking forward to his greatest challenge so far – to put up with Noémie for this new undertaking.
Noémie, 27, French. Loves complaining, having dirty hands and finishes everything she starts (particularly when it comes to cakes). Fluent in Spanish, English and the language of bikes. She is the chief mechanic of the expedition. In love with bikes from childhood she has numerous two wheeled adventures already under her belt. Her last adventure to date was a solo trip between Vancouver and Cancun. A short detour to Yosemite, the climbing paradise, was where she met Adam.
I’ve always searched for adventure. It has come in many forms. Holidays spent wild camping and wearing out waterproofs in Scotland taught me that fortitude, patience and faith are key. Walking through the bush in Africa taught me to choose bivouacs wisely lest you find yourself face to face with black widow spiders and a rather imposing scorpion. Climbing in Spain taught me you can still find adventure in the strangest of places, battling a seagull for a climbing hold 300m above the ice cream shop. The British mountains have taught me the techniques to be self reliant, to be able to not follow a pre-destined path and to be free in the wilderness. The 1000m high walls in Yosemite taught me to tackle large projects knowing that once a project is set into my mind I only have to keep on going. Spending months in the woods and on the walls gave me the stomach for rice and lentils plus the knowledge that raccoons will steal your breakfast from inside your sleeping bag. Living through two Chamonix winters in a van has taught me to produce all the electricity needed from the sun, to problem solve iced up doors, windows and brake pads and that no matter how much adventure you find there will always be more waiting just around the corner. Bike touring has taught me to appreciate the gradual change of culture, climate and way of life – in essence it is the difference between visiting and travelling.
2013 first tour on my town bike, solo between Crest and Genoa. 1000km, 15 nights of camping and dozens of interactions. I ended up prolonging my trip for a tour around Corsica.
2014 Vancouver. I would leave every weekend for overnight rides. My initiation into wild camping. I decided to cycle to Cancun. It took a month to cycle to San Francisco with my father. 2200km, discoveries, run-ins and strange anecdotes. Once alone I discovered the importance of rest days. I learnt to shower with 10cl of water when crossing the Californian desert. I became bold enough to ask for help from strangers. Learnt to be wary around single men. To manage the frustration of insufficient time. To appreciate the endless generosity of many Mexicans who have very little. I lived a childhood dream of sleeping perched 20m above the jungle floor in a hut overhanging an incredible cenote in exchange for cleaning the path.
2015 I found Adam again in Chamonix. The life in a van is a new challenge. A mere two hours by road from my birthplace the adventure continues. I received a training grant to be a bike mechanic and got myself hired in a bike hire shop whe I am learning everything I can for our next trip.
Now we find ourselves a year and a half living in a van in Chamonix during the tourist seasons. A house on wheels, that’s the daily adventure. Find a spot to stay for long enough, to limit the distance between us and our daily needs. To be sufficiently exposed to the sun for our solar panels. Managing reduced space, the morning frost inside the van, the frozen door that makes us late for work. To accept, understand and try to change the view of some others in regard to a different way of life is a daily challenge.
We’ve made the best of the interseasons to travel both in our van and by bike. Most notably we have cycled between Chamonix and the Dolomites, and from Bourgoin-Jallieu to the Calanques. More alpine passes than you can shake a stick at, descents via ski piste, nights under church porches, trad climbing, bivvies in abandoned houses. Imagination, improvisation, adapting to the unforeseen, making decisions as a duo, managing the budget and ever more to learn!