If you’re going to take your time touring the world you might as well do it on the back of bicycle. That seems to be the approach that Richard and Stani Velomad have taken since they left their home in France more than eight years ago on their second epic cycling journey. The married couple’s journey recently took them to Islambad, Pakistan, where they now estimate that they have covered more than 150,000 km (93,205 miles) on the back of their bikes.
Richard and Stani made their first long distance cycling trip back in 1996 when they started riding from Alaska to Argentina. It took them nearly four years to complete that ride which took them through the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile along the way. By the time they had finished, they had completely run out of cash and had to return home to France in order to earn some cash to fund their next ride.
They spent the next four years working 85+ hours a week and saving every penny they could. The bought a house, fixed it up and then sold it, all so they could get back out on the road. In 2004 they set out again and have been on the road ever since.
Their second cycling tour has taken them to such places as Morocco, Tunisia, Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia, Austria, Germany, Russia, Mongolia, China and into South East Asia. They’ve ridden across Viet Nam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia before turning south to New Zealand and Australia. They’ve since returned to Asia to ride through Burma and back into China, which is where they crossed the border into Pakistan. They say they don’t know how long they’ll keep riding, but their on their way to India now, in a roundabout fashion.
Obviously living on the road hasn’t been without its challenges. They’ve faced all kinds of dangers along the way, including hostile locals and the threat of being shot (in the U.S. of all places). But they’ve also experienced the kindness of strangers and interacted with some amazing cultures. While in Burma for instance, they were surprised to find that everyone offered them tea no matter where they went and they remarked on how welcoming and friendly the people of Pakistan have been as well.
Eight years seems like an incredibly long time to be on the road, but the lifestyle seems to be working for them. Who knows how long they’ll keep it up, but looking over the list of places that they’ve been, it seems they haven’t explored too much of Africa just yet. That should keep them busy for another eight years at least.
Thanks to my friend Zeeshan Nawaz Kahn for sharing this great story with me!