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Stories of Camaraderie on Four Continents
Not that long ago we were all in the depths of the pandemic. But we always believed in the future, kept the dream alive and now the dream has been living for months on end. As we write, four tours full of adventures are drawing to the end, having crossed 18 countries on four continents. During this time 150 cyclists from Europe, Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have traveled thousands of kilometres sharing challenges, helping each other and experiencing life to the fullest. We asked our content creators who these cyclists were, what their particular group was like and what stories stood out from their big cycling adventure. Here’s what they shared…
Nic shares how riders overcame adversity time and time again in South America
The group of riders who embarked on the South American Epic became united through shared challenges. The challenge of intense head wind throughout the Argentina Pampas. The challenge of unstoppable rain in parts of Patagonia. The challenge of being static in remote Chilean towns for days on end due to ferries not operating. However, everyday they impressed me. Everyday there was no negativity or doubt in the expedition. Rider Tom Woodard said multiple times throughout the epic, “we signed up for an expedition, and were getting the adventure for sure.”
I observed two themes that emerged through the expedition – and they revolved around rolling into camp. 1) A wine bottle in one of your bike water bottle holders and a bag of chips dangling from the handlebars. 2) Looking out for each other. Everyone was worried about each others health and safety before their own on the tough days.
It was Villa O’Higgins (Population 600) that opened my eyes to this group of cyclists. We were supposed to spend one night there, but ended up staying four nights. With this delay, everyone had the opportunity to act disappointed or angry. People took the opposite route and made the best of the situation. Everyone would go to the same brewery together. We went on hikes. Enjoyed being in one place together; by the fire and sharing stories. We were living together, not just cycling together. I believe everyone loved that unexpected experience and wouldn’t take it back for anything.
Katie and Joe explained how riders bonded in Australia and New Zealand
The 2022 Trans-Oceania crew showed a remarkable ability to adapt as we pedalled from island to island across Australia and New Zealand.
This was the wettest year on record in many of the places we visited, which certainly affected the tour. Occasionally our plans had to change on account of floods, landslides, and even ferry cancellations (yes, it rained so much that the ferry to Tasmania was canceled for the first time in six years.) But our riders were always game for the last-minute changes and always grateful for the in-room hair dryers at the end of the day.
The group bonded over lunches at roadside parks and dinners in small-town lodges. They commiserated over the few sparse meals in remote country pubs, and over the many more in equally isolated towns that vastly exceeded expectations. Evenings were also a popular time for sharing photos from the day in our WhatsApp group. Despite the rain, there were still plenty of sunny days to snap photos of other riders pedalling past volcanoes and up rainforest roads.
The group also made the most of the small towns we traveled through, singing karaoke at a Thai restaurant in New South Wales or biking to nearby seal colonies on the South Island of New Zealand. One story that summarizes this group was the ride into Delegate, a tiny town near the Snowy Mountains of southeast Australia. The day’s ride took us through 126 km of beautiful gum tree forests. Most riders enjoyed a full day of sunshine. The final riders, though, had one kilometre to go when the skies opened up. They arrived absolutely soaked, but the group was waiting inside the country pub with a hot meal and cold drinks after another memorable day down under.
Sheelagh noticed the generosity of the riders as they pedalled through SE Asia
The 2022 Bamboo Road riders are an incredible group for many reasons. For one, they are a uniquely positive crew. They’ll come in after a challenging day in the pouring rain or the blazing sun with big smiles on their faces, joyful to have spent the day out on their bikes. They are also a generous group. They look out for each other in every way – always quick to offer a tool, a tube, a band-aid, or a Garmin tutorial to others in need.
They are a wonderfully supportive group. On one of the toughest climbs of the tour, a rider got a flat. Several other riders stopped in the rain and set to work. One grabbed a patch kit, another checked the tire for the culprit, while two more set about patching the tube. It doesn’t matter if it’s the hardest day, they’ll never leave a fellow rider behind.
Finally, they are an impressively experienced and well-travelled group. Around the dinner table you’ll hear stories of people cycling across Africa, canoeing in the Arctic, or hiking up a volcano. There’s never a dull moment with this bunch. All of this means the 2022 Bamboo Road has been a special journey, filled with positivity, kindness, generosity, and knowledge, all the way from Hanoi to Singapore.
Sarah explains the lessons learned and fun had across North America
The riders who rode the 2022 North American Epic were tough, strong willed and able to keep things positive on some of the toughest days. They weathered harsh climates, hot weather, strong winds and remote camps in their nearly 6 months on tour. In this time they have travelled from the Northwest Territories down the western United States and Canada, through Mexico and all the way down Central America.
This group has been together for almost half a year. They have gotten to know each other very well. Birthdays were always celebrated over the top! Songs were sung, cake was made, gifts were given and in one case even a piñata was smashed. In Central America riders would rush to the hotel to watch Fifa world cup matches. A game developed where each rider was given a country and whoever’s country won the finals would win a prize. There is one rider on the tour who collects turtle statues and the riders and staff have banded together multiple times to help him find the perfect piece for his collection.
Early on in the tour, the Dempster Highway in northern Canada was very challenging being so remote. This proved difficult as there was an 11 day stretch without a grocery store. Groceries had to be shipped to a nearby gas station and then driven 150 kilometres to camp. Riders experienced this remoteness in different ways. For some it was their first time camping in these conditions. One night in the early hours winds swept through camp taking some of the pop up shelters for a ride. Tents were flapping aggressively in the wind, ready to take flight. One rider went around to each tent while the others were sleeping and hammered in extra stakes, yelling, “don’t worry, it’s just me.” The group has been through so many different climates and situations together. From remote camps to beach side hotels. From chilly mornings to blazing hot sun. They’ve helped each other through and have learned so much along the way.
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