In 2007, I went night-cycling. A bunch of us cycled from East Coast Park to Raffles Place and then back again. It took about 8 hours altogether because we made several stops to eat (at Lau Pa Sat!), but I remember it as being really tiring albeit uber fun. Let’s face it- cycling isn’t the kindest sport to your nether regions. Being on a bicycle for that long can be very… straining, if you know what I mean.
Well, I was sorely put in my place when I met Axel and Mariana, a beautiful couple from Argentina who are on the adventure (or at least, the first big adventure) of their lives. When I met them at Merida, they were just slightly more than halfway through their 2-year journey cycling from Alaska back to Argentina. Yup, you read that right. These crazy people (and I mean that in the most loving way possible) are literally cycling through the Americas.
To be honest, I thought that such people only existed in some sort of fantasy, superhuman world. So when I asked how they had arrived at Merida, and they replied “we cycled here”, my jaw dropped. And when they went on to tell us that they had travelled from Alaska, I nearly fell over. Back in Argentina, Axel and Mariana had regular jobs as a programmer and an accountant respectively, but they are also avid climbers who have conquered the highest peaks in South America. You can immediately sense this in Axel because he climbs everywhere. When we were at the Cuzama cenotes, he was shimmying up the roots of the tree trunk and scaling the cave walls wherever possible. Amazing athleticism indeed.
I apologize for the bad picture quality. Still haven’t quite figured out how to work the Canon in water.
Unsurprisingly, the physical exertion needed to cycle 100km a day is not the toughest part of their journey. Instead, it is the mental fortitude that is needed to overcome the seemingly never-ending roads, the natural elements (Mariana once got blown over by the strong winds while cycling!) and the all too frequent instances when they are lost. In addition, their daily budget is 5 USD. This essentially means stripping oneself of all luxuries. Accommodation is usually free through Couchsurfing, or at the local fire/police station. Food has to be rationed out carefully, and mainly consists of sandwiches and fruit. But it isn’t as bitter as it sounds. Once, the governor of a small Mexican town they were in were so impressed by them that he got one of his henchmen to bring them to the supermarket and offered them anything that they wanted!
Anyway, travelling by bicycle is apparently not limited to just the superhuman population, but in fact increasingly popular these days. There are tons of resources online to help prepare you for first cycling trip and lots of inspiring stories from bikers who have been there, done that.
And of course, check out Axel and Mariana’s website here!
They are planning to do an Asian tour in the next couple of years, so hopefully our paths will cross again (: