There was no choice but to go to Vladivostok.
The idea of attempting to bicycle across the world first appeared amidst a host of seemingly unattainable goals and pipe dreams we concocted while huddled in a dorm room our freshman year of college in Western New York. As the snow drifts of winter grew larger at the onset of the second semester, so too did the magnitude of our travel schemes. Talk of road trips and river boats, hitchhiking and sleepless nights packed on Greyhound buses kept us occupied for hours.
But one particularly lofty plan, the Pan-Eurasian bike trip across Russia and Europe, stood out above the rest. The very mention of the word Siberia brought to mind a variety of haunting visions composed of babushkas, gypsies, and polar bears. There were so many unknowns, such an excess of land to cross, and multitude of people to meet that from our isolated vantage point it seemed that anything could, and would, happen. Dreaming, we stared at maps for hours, the pupils of our glazed eyes drawing probable routes back and forth across one of the world's longest continuous expanses of land from Asia to Portugal.
But c'mon, it was so long there was no way anyone could ride a bike that far. Right???
Two years ago we hiked the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, which stretches over 500 miles from the Basque region of southwestern France to the coast of Galicia, Spain. Roughly halfway through the hike, while the blisters on our feet daily increased and our rain soaked backpacks bore into our shoulders, we had already begun a dialogue which only those afflicted with the most acute form of wanderlust can engage themselves in: we started to plan the next trip.
Finishing the Camino in Fisterra, Spain
This time, there was no doubt about what next epic adventure loomed upon the horizon. As we finished the Camino across Spain, we looked back at the hundreds of miles of mountains and plains we had managed to cross on foot. Suddenly, bicycling across Pan-Eurasia was looking far more feasible.
Imagine, we wouldn't even have to walk.
In spring 2009, we will at long last carry out that crazy idea conceived of in the dim light of a stuffy college dorm room seven years ago. Arriving in Moscow the beginning of March, we will proceed to the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific coast, where we will train while taking a half semester of intensive Russian at a local university. Once the snows clear, we will dip the rear tires of our bikes into the cool edge of the Sea of Japan and begin pedaling westwards across Russia, eventually entering Europe via Ukraine, and onwards until we reach the end of the road in Porto, Portugal. At which point, we will throw the most anticipated beach party of the century, a bash so big that the likes of Jay-Z, Bill Gates, and Jesus Christ have not only already been invited, but will probably show up for....so be sure not to miss it.
In total, the trip will cover almost 10,000 miles, taking approximately 10 months to a year in order to complete.
Be sure to check out our updated blog entries, photos, and video from the road!
It is bound to get interesting out there,
Levi Bridges & Ellery Althaus