2 hours before leaving

Finally the day has arrived that we’ll be hitting that dusty ol’ road.. The idea of going on this trip has been with us for a while now and we are all too eager to start making our legs crazy. First day will be easygoing; visiting some good friends in Utrecht. From Utrecht we’ll take it down to Nijmegen, Venlo and onwards to Germany. After a week we hope to make it to Austria and by that time we will have had sufficient workout to tackle some of those bad ass mountains. Our plan so far is to pass thru Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Iran.. and here’s the first bummer of our trip; we will most likely not be able to cycle through Pakistan. Only very recently Pakistan has made it a bit more difficult obtaining a Visa. Previously it was possible to obtain a Visa down along the road. Nowadays one has to apply in the country of origin and since my buddy Shaun is from Canada that means that he would have to go back home. I still kind of hope that we can obtain it the “Asian” way somewhere in Turkey or Iran (maybe some corrupt official taking small bribes) If we can’t pass thru Pakistan then we would have to consider flying from Tehran to India. From India onwards it’s still a big question mark. I would really love to see Sikkim, Ladakh and Nepal but we also would love to find a way getting into China and make it down to South East Asia. Will i return after a year or will i double it? I guess this is exactly what i find so charming about our trip.. Nothing is fixed and each day can hold new surprises that may make us change our “plans”.. But then again, isn’t that what happens everyday? Except that sometimes we lose the ability a bit to open up to new possibilities and embrace new roads..

This road is calling..!


Why travel by bike?

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they are, while in a motor car only a high hill will impress you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of a country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bike.”  Ernest Hemingway

Some people might think that traveling long distances by bike is a bit crazy or unpractical. Why travel by bike when you can take a car, cheap bus, relax on a train, or fly and get there in an afternoon. In a car, bus, or train it will only take 5hrs to arrive at a destination 600km away, or just a few hours by plane, but cycling there will take you a week so you better be prepared for your plans to randomly change and expect the unexpected to happen. But this is something that makes cycling so attractive, not knowing what or who you will run into a kilometer up the road. You will meet the most amazing, kind, hospitable people who will invite you for a cup of tea or something to eat in return to hear about your trip. Strangers will offer you somewhere to put your tent, a barn to sleep in, or even a couch or bed in their home and a warm shower. Taking other forms of transportation it’s not often you even say hello to the people around you or learn about their stories.

Its almost like we live in our own small bubbles these days, going from the t.v in your apartment, to your car or public transport, to your workplace or school, back to your car, etc..  never really crossing  from the boundaries of routine and comfort into freedom. Traffic jams on the motorways are really just thousands of people stuck in there little bubbles beside each other, going the same direction and not even able to say hello to each other. Our only communication is from the advertisements on billboards and radios.

As for backpackers or long term nomads, looking for escape or adventure traveling by bus or train most of the time can really burn you out. Sure they are fast but they go from one noisy city or town to another and don’t leave much opportunity to explore all the little hidden secrets in between, the places where the buses and trains don’t stop. Traveling by bike gives you that, under your own steam you can go almost anywhere you want when you want. Sometimes you can go to places that busses and trains don’t even go at all, places you can’t get to by car or even by walking but only on a bicycle.

With cycling, traveling is the adventure before your destination. You get to see everything, hear everything, smell and touch everything, like when riding through a fresh forest in the morning, feeling the breeze on top of a mountain, or the scent of the ocean along the seaside. This is much more rewarding then what is possible from the window of your vehicle, it allows you to be spontaneous. And when you have camping gear and food with you it becomes your home and way of life. Absolute freedom. It brings you back to the roots of traveling and surviving and makes you realize how alive and full of energy you are.

And on top of all that cycling is perfect for living a healthy life. It is great exercise and makes you more aware of eating well, getting plenty of liquids, and feeling good. With wars being fought over oil, rising gas prices and a rapidly decreasing world supply of fossil fuel, it only makes sense that our future needs more people traveling by bike. In cities, cars and busses create a lot of smog, noise, and pollution, and usually you can’t even find a parking space and are stuck in traffic. Bikes are a quick, clean, healthy way to get where your going, and you don’t need to pay a fortune for insurance and maintenance.

It was Louis J. Helle Jr. who once said “bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own.”

Cycling offers you the trip of a lifetime. Across a country, continent, or if you have the time even right around the world!   It’s irresistible.


About the bikes

Shaun is riding a night blue Santos Travelmaster, with a custom built cromoly steel frame. It’s a derailleur bike (can’t afford a rohloff speedhub) with 26inch wheels – hand built  rim with 32 spokes, shimano XT hub, schwalbe marathon extreme tires, shimano LX shifters, 29 speed shimano XT drivetrain and XT derailleur, brooks B17 saddle, tubus rear rack, and bad ass mud gards. She is a lovely lady and her name is Dervla aka old blue.

Maarten is riding a black Santos Travelmaster 2.6 alu, custom built aluminium frame. Unfortunately i ain’t won the lottery yet so its also a derailleur for me and dreaming about the rohloff speedhub.  Features are all the same as Shaun’s lady.  Grace Jones is a bike one can count on..  She already showed her dedication by getting me to Barcelona last summer.

Where are we going?

We are 2 bike freaks with the ambition to cycle all the way from The Netherlands to the Far East. Starting from Amsterdam, cycling through the middle east, and ending up in… We don’t know yet! There is no fixed itinerary nor a tight time schedule we have to stick to. Boundless amounts of pure freedom!

While enjoying our high about having that freedom, there is one thing we have committed ourselves to; returning a favor to the people we meet along the road. Unfortunately we can’t return it to everyone so that’s why we decided on picking one project we wish to make an effort for.

Boys school in Pakistan

Now you may think: “Ok guys, sounds cool but what does a cycling trip have to do with a boys school in Pakistan?” Well, nothing really… We just like to cycle and thought it would be a good way to highlight some of the problems of one of the countries we are passing through, and help the people. We are not the first ones doing something like this, by no means do we dare to say that we are doing something totally original, but that’s not really the point is it?

In a tiny village, not too far away from the hectic city of Lahore, there’s a school that can’t really be called a school. It’s a group of kids sitting beneath a tree in tempatures up to 40-45 degrees with no facilities at all. Their old school collapsed a couple of years ago and nowadays they’re left with nothing at all.

In Pakistan, especially on the countryside, illiteracy is widespread and so is child labor. Many children don’t have the opportunity to go to school and receive some basic education. This can also lead to a life of crime and drug abuse as Pakistan has a high number of young people addicted to heroin.

There is a Dutch/Pakistani Foundation that really cares for the fate of these children. Already they took care of building a school for girls (boys and girls go to separate schools in this region) that now offers education to some 250 girls. The boys are still waiting for theirs!

Let go of your image about what a school looks like in our countries.. We are talking about a tiny building with a little toilet section next to it. Nothing too special from our point of view but a blessing for those kids and a huge improvement that will make a great difference.

We believe that education is the most important attribute to development and making people stand on their own. The cycle of poverty has many different causes and may not be easily done away with but basic education is definitely a big step forward towards a better future.We want to help and hope you will to!


We are looking for people willing to sponsor our bike trip. ANY amount is welcome, even the price of having one less cup of coffee from starbucks or one less pint of beer from the bar on the weekend, it won’t make any difference in the quality your life but it will improve the lives of these kids in many ways! Each penny will go directly to the project. No bizarre overhead costs such as a director with a 5 number salary or expensive office equipment. Also your bikers promise they won’t buy any cold beers down along the road with your money. All will go directly to the boys in Pakistan!

How much do we need?

The total sum of how much it would cost to build the school would come down to some 18.000 Euro. However, the amount we can come up with will be doubled by a few generous organizations and so that would leave us with some 9000 Euro to collect. It is a lot of money but we will fight.. ehhmm.. bike for it! Let’s see what will happen……..

Can't Wait To Go!

We can’t wait to get moving. Today we are headed to a bike-shop where we are having a hands-on workshop on bike-repair. The guys at the shop where we bought one of our bikes were friendly enough to offer us some time in their workshop to see first hand all the stuff that comes along when you have to fix your bike.

Could come handy when we are somewhere in the middle of nowhere stuck with a broken handlebar.