With the increasing popularity of bikepacking there are quite a few people who have succeeded in crossing the entire planet by bike. At the moment Mark Beaumont is on track to beat the world record by circumnavigating it in 80 days. He does, of course, have the benefit of a back up vehicle and a team to support him.
But most round the worlders aren’t record breakers – they want to do it unsupported and their motivation is to view the planet from the best position you could possibly get – from the saddle.
Ride Velo were inspired when we came across Becycling.net a website set up by a couple of Italians called Daniele and Simona who are pedalling across the world in support of World Bicycle Relief which provides bikes for students, health workers and private enterprises in inaccessible parts of the world.
Daniele ‘s first taste of long haul cycling was in 2011 when, after working in Madrid for a year he decided to return to his home city of Rome by bike. That was a 4,000 mile journey, connecting the two capitals and lasted more than three months. “The discovery of this extraordinary means of transport completely changed my life.”
Despite having a comfortable job as a telecommunication engineer and a research position at the university, his thirst for adventure and discovery got the upper hand and he found himself considering a world bike tour. While hiking in the Dolomites he had the idea of cycling the highest mountain passes of the world.
In homage to the seven hills that make up his home city of Rome, “From 7 hills to 7 passes” became the moniker of his expedition. The lowest pass is at 1,830m over Mount Hotham while the highest is the Abra Azuca Pass in the Andes at 5,100m. The route covers about 100,000 km by bike and crosses 50 countries.
Daniele’s travelling companion is another Roman, Simona. A keen mountaineer, skier, cyclist, canyoner and surfer, she was looking for “a journey where anything can happen…to see the world not as a tourist but as a traveler, and to transform this desire into a manifesto of changing the habits of the other inhabitants of this planet.”
This couple really seem to want all they can get out of life and they were keen to “escape a system imposed by an extremely rigid, monotonous and unsatisfying society.” They also wanted to promote the bike as the ultimate means of transport so, along with raising money for World Bicycle Relief, he and Simona have a social mission of raising awareness of a different way of traveling. As ambassadors of the Responsible Travel Code, they are committed to preserving and promoting respectful behaviour towards the local environment and cultures.
“Traveling the world by bicycle means rediscovering the pleasure of the voyage, moving slowly across lands of different cultures. It means having the possibility of getting in touch more deeply with local realities, far from the regular tourist circuits that exploit the resources of destination countries, instead of involving local communities.”
The couple left Rome on 12th June 2014 and their first objective was to climb the Col de Bonette in the French Alps. Since then they have covered over 35,000km and have bagged a few of those other high mountain passes, the highest so far being the Tro La Pass in China which peaked out at 4,900m.
At the moment they are in the United States, crossing the Spaghetti Western landscape of Wyoming, having completed the Great Divide. They say that they have never met more cyclists than in the United states. “There’s not a single day without meeting another cyclist…everyone has their own style, from ultralight bikepacking to a full load of panniers and trailer, but all with the same passion: travelling on a bicycle.”
As well as the rest of North America, they still have Central and South America to cross, after which they will transfer to the southern tip of Africa. From then on they will begin pedalling back north to Rome.
You can track their progress on their website where you can also find some great blog posts, pictures and videos (including one of our great cycling hero, Luciano Berruti). Their instagram account is becycling. You can also make a financial contribution to their trip, half of which will go to World Bicycle Relief. Good luck and Chapeau Daniele and Simona. May you have safe travels and wonderful experiences. You’re an inspiration to us all!
(All photos are courtesy of Becycling.net)