Please introduce and tell us a little about yourselves.
We are a young couple from Montpellier, France. Camill is a nurse and she loves to take care of people. She is also very interested in nature, ecology and traveling. Antoine is a neuroscientist, who loves most of all to hike in the mountains. Together we are about to embark on a cycling journey from France to Nepal.
The title of your cycling journey is called Migratory Bikes, how did this project come about?
When we first met a few years ago we were both dreaming of traveling around the world. Having this same dream, along with our common passion for nature, mountains, and sports brought us together. These common passions still unite us today.
We wanted to go for a big backpacking adventure or something similar. Camille wanted to return to Asia and both of us were curious to discover the Himalayan mountain range, along with the different cultures in that area. Initially we were talking about taking a plane but something sounded wrong. We’ve always been careful of our ecological impact in our daily routine. Things like getting around by bike, taking public transit, trying to produce minimal waste, and avoiding chemical products, etc.
We started to imagine an eco-friendly way to travel that fit our values. We immediately thought of a bike expedition which would allow us to reach Nepal in autonomy, with our tent, our sleeping bags and only the necessary equipment. Living like that, as nomads, provides the best opportunity for meeting people, to discover cultures, and to reconnect to nature.
Will you start cycling right from your home in France? This means no plans to fly at all this trip?
Yes, this is the goal of this project. We have traveled by plane before, but this time we want to avoid this mode of transport. We want our carbon print as low as possible. Plus, we want to discover things in another way on this trip. By taking time and enjoying all the regions that we would have flown over if we had taken a plane. This helps us give each location value as well and not just at our final destination.
Where do you start your preparation for a long cycling journey?
We don’t know exactly where we started, there was so much to do at first (itinerary, administrative research, website and social media, equipment…).
We spent most of our time planning and getting the equipment needed. It’s important for us to have quality equipment that will not let us down. We will meet a wide range of climatic conditions (summer, winter, high mountains, rain, snow, wind, etc.) and travel on a variety of surfaces. We tried to select gear that is durable and can survive the many different environments, as well as last a long time beyond this trip.
What cycling trips have you done in preparation for this long journey?
You may take us for fools but this cycling trip will be actually our first! We use bikes every day because we choose not to have a car. We are more used to taking our backpacks for a few day hikes in the mountains rather than taking our bikes for a long ride. This does not worry us as a long cycling journey doesn’t necessarily need special training. Anyone can do it, you just have to stay tuned to your body and not overdo it at the beginning. We have talked with a lot of cyclists and they all say that little by little, everyone finds their rhythm and gets used to the effort.
We do plan to test all our equipment during a small training session in France, during January and February. This will help us prepare ourselves physically and mentally for this long journey as it is a new type of travel for us.
When were you originally supposed to leave for the trip?
We were supposed to start our journey in the summer of 2020. This was our plan so that we would reach central Asia without any weather issues since the roads are completely closed during winter in some of the countries we will be passing through. Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are a couple examples of where some of the roads close during the winter months.
How has covid interrupted your plans and how have you stayed positive during this time?
Covid has impacted A LOT of our decisions and plans. First, during this current pandemic, we couldn’t find the bikes we wanted in France or in nearby countries. Plus, we were stuck at home with the lockdown so even if we had our bikes, we couldn’t train at all with them. It was quite difficult to think ahead and prepare such a big project with the risk of being stuck in a foreign country. Especially if another wave of infections happened and the restrictions change again. This is the reason we postponed our trip from summer 2020 to the beginning of 2021. To be fully honest, it wasn’t that horrible! We had time to prepare more precisely for our trip with our gear partners and to build our bikes. We can’t wait to start of course, but we are now much more prepared than a few months ago.