The odyssey

Tapping into theme expedition’s lush mine of discoveries broadened and expanded our last sortie—our Cycling the Pacific Ring of Fire—to such extent, giving it meaning beyond our pedal strokes and encounters, even transforming it into a true quest…a “cyclovolcanic” one, that we could not head out again without a subject to investigate and a mission to fulfill. In 2009, when we arrived back in Vancouver—the start and finish line of this 60,000 kilometre circumnavigation of the Pacific on bikes which lasted more than 6 years—, we decided on an exceptional sedentary pause. Although we have been eager to go back to our Home on the Road for many months now, this break has been beneficial in, amongst many things, allowing us to freshen up our perspective on this type of nomadism we’ve been practicing together since 1997—Pierre has been at it since 1990—and re-elect it as the lifestyle we still want to pursue. So, it is with a renewed conviction and butterflies in our stomachs that we are preparing ourselves for a new adventure, another behemoth of a ride! Cycling towards the nomadic people—fittingly!—inhabiting between the northernmost part of Europe, Norkapp, and the southern terminal of the African continent, Cape Agulhas…Nomads²: nomads by nomads, from cape to cape…a cycling odyssey! This other mega bike-trek shall see us pedalling some 35,000 kilometres in about 50 countries over three years and two stages—a rough estimate! By thus riding towards these nomads, seasonal herders, hunter-gatherers or indomitable travellers, we intend to gather stories and accounts, mostly in the form of filmed interviews, and render a human portrait of the diverse ethnic groups on the move, most of them aboriginal peoples. We’ll also attempt to give an overview on the state of nomadism and the environmental, economic and socio-political issues this way of life faces at the dawn of this new millenium. Will the nomadic lifestyle, that many consider endangered, manage to dodge its predicted end? Do nomads’ immemorial ways and strategies have new lessons to teach? Of these encounters and pedal strokes will emerge fragments of answers, clues, and a reflection on our own nomadism. One that we’ve been entrenched in for two decades, thus patrolling the planet on our mountain bikes searching for stories and images, moments and scenes, the many parts creating and relating our world…a thrilling life of discoveries and adventures that we are keen to share now more than ever! Ready for an amazing ride?

Objectives

  • To travel on mountain bikes from Norway to Morocco while reaching the northernmost tip of Europe (Nordkaap, Norway) and the southern end of the African continent (Cape Agulhas, South Africa).

  • To meet nomadic peoples living in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran, the Middle East and Africa. To collect stories and testimonies from representatives of those communities by filming interviews, transcribing conversations and capturing images. 

  • To identify, analyze and present the concerns nomads have regarding their survival, the issues threatening their adapted and sustainable way of life and nomadism practical applications in solving current problems.

  • To photograph, film, write down and document the expedition’s progresses, along with the cultures and landscapes surrounding it.

  • To reflect on and discuss our own nomadic ways, taking the connection to nomads encountered on the road into account.

  • To share discoveries and adventures harvested from our bicycle saddles, scenes we witness and experiences we endure via Internet (official website with blog, FB, Twitter, Instagram,…), articles published in magazines (Vélo Mag, Géo Plein Air, Pedal, Adventure Cyclist…), multimedia presentations in public theatres and schools, film (documentary), books (narrative and photo-album).

  • To make more people acquainted with and promote the work and actions of Montreal-based Cyclo North-South, a fantastic NGO collecting used bikes in the North in order to give them a second and very useful life in the South. We will try to recruit new field partners and visit established ones along the way (Western Africa). We are also currently looking for another NGO with whom to team up, an organization working to protect the rights of some nomadic peoples included on our expedition’s “hosts list”.