There are times when ordinary just doesn’t cut it. You feel a need to do something different…extraordinary…life-changing. Two of our amazing users proved that by setting out to do something that’s completely unexpected and kind of wild, it can lead to the experience of a lifetime. These guys are anything but ordinary when it comes to getting the most out of life. They’ve taken “carpe diem” to a whole new level, while making sure to help others along the way. After a stint as volunteers for a French NGO, one day Victor and Timothée got up and decided that they would take the leap and bike their way back home from Bangkok to Paris. Because, seize the day, right?
As they prepared to embark on their six month journey, spanning over 16000 kilometers, they couldn’t begin to imagine what lie ahead. It turned out to be the ride of their lives, and after chronicling their incredible expedition from Bangkok to Paris, they finally had some time to sit back and reflect on their awe-inspiring road trip. We reached out to hear all the highs and lows from their experience.
When did you start using Endomondo?
Victor: I discovered Endomondo in December 2011. At this time, I didn’t use to go training often so I didn’t really use it until Fall in 2012. Running and training with Endomondo was fun. I started using it more and more and that’s a reason why I wanted to track the Dragonfly Project.
What motivated you to start this project?
We’ve been friends for more than ten years, and dreaming about one big trip like this one for almost two years. It all started around a beer, dreaming out loud and little by little the idea turned real. South East Asia was very attractive for the both of us. So we volunteered 6 months for a French NGO Enfants du Mekong, and from there, we just went cycling home. It was really cool to leave with only a one way ticket!
How did you come up with the idea and pick the route?
For the route, it’s quite easy. When you draw a straight line from Bangkok to Paris, it more or less crosses the whole Himalaya chain… so it was either North or South. We picked the route with the easiest political landscape. You can’t really make a very elaborate choice when you have never been to a place; the very purpose of the journey is to discover it all! During the journey, we thought that we would have a deep insight of the cultures and that we would be able to discuss a lot with the people on our road… that was a bit naive. For sure, we learned a lot about the countries we went through and we met plenty of people. People’s hospitality was astonishing all along our journey but something we didn’t think about is that a journey like this gives you plenty of time to think about yourself and about what’s important for you and mankind.
What did people say when you told them you wanted to bike to Paris from Bangkok?
There were more or less three answers:
“You’re insane! No way! You can’t do that!”
“No, but seriously?”
“Wow! So cool!”
And now when we tell our story, it’s about the same. People don’t really believe us until we talk about it.
Why a Tandem bike?
Timothée: I really wanted to ride a bike and Victor wanted to do hitch-hiking. For three months in Myanmar, we were giving our own version of the trip when people asked us. Three months before the departure, we decided it was time to settle on something, and we came up with this weird compromise: I cycle and Victor hitches a ride at the back!
Victor: Finally, the tandem was quite a cool idea because people were always very curious and it kind of forced Tim and me to be on the same mindset. Unfortunately, we had to send back the tandem back to France in a container because we were too heavy for the bike and we kept exploding tires every 500km! So, we bought two touring bikes in China! We rode on two great Boskey bikes!
In your experience, which country was the most bike-friendly?
Turkey and Bulgaria were really nice for biking. We could always find good roads with almost no traffic. And in Europe, the cycle trails are great! We had the opportunity to cycle along the EuroVelo 6 in Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and a bit in France; those roads are perfect for cyclists!
What was the best moment from the entire journey?
Timothée: Really? That question again? I will never forget this breakfast in a family’s home when we had to swallow the yack butter tea with fried pork fat in Sichuan, China. The taste was just so horrible, especially at 6:30, but this family had been so nice to us. To me, this moment is very representative of the whole journey.
Victor: To sum up the trip in one great souvenir is hard, but I can say that I will never forget the “Watermelon Day”. Arriving in Uzbekistan, on the first 10km, we had to eat 3 watermelons entirely, as people invited us – that was quite hilarious!
And the worst?
Timothée: This one morning after I had been sick all night when we could not find the trail we had planned to exit Song Kol (Kirgizstan) and Victor just said: “No problem, we can just push the bikes straight up the mountains, we will see better from up there”. And so we did. That was just pure madness but I will never regret that moment!
Victor: The day we had to decide to separate ourselves from the tandem was very hard. The whole project was based on this and leaving the tandem was a very difficult choice. But as Tim would say, it was a blessing in disguise; because cycling 50 to 60km of uphill on a normal bike is sometimes hard – but on a tandem, it’s hell!
Would you do it all again?
Timothée: No! It’s too short! I’d go for a much longer trip!
Victor: For sure, I would do it all again and do even more of cycling and taking more time to meet people or discover great places! Now, I’d like to go touring with a kayak!
What are you doing now to stay fit? Do you miss being out on the road?
Timothée: I thought of starting a weight watchers’ program and then I remembered one of my friends doing it and how un-fun it was. So I dropped the idea quite fast. Now I keep moving around with my bike, just like I was doing before except that now I don’t even think of the train if the distance is less than 30km!
Victor: Cycle, cycle and keep cycling – that’s how I try to stay fit. I tried to go running last week. It’s weird because I didn’t feel tired but my muscles didn’t like this kind of workout as I didn’t train them for running during the past year.
What’s next on the horizon?
Timothée: Now it’s time to look for a job, but I don’t want it to mean giving up my passions. I really want to find a job that makes me get out of bed, and smile every morning. Probably as a product engineer in a company that produces skis or mountain equipment. But I also have in mind another bike tour for the years to come. Maybe Alaska-Ushuaia, or along the Himalaya if the conflicts cool down.
Victor: I’m now learning Chinese intensively in order to go work in China as soon as possible in the Embedded Systems Engineering field. Tim and I are now also preparing a conference to speak about our journey. It will happen in Paris in the weeks to come!
You can read all about the Dragonfly Tandem Project and see all the amazing snapshots of their journey on their official website, or check out their Facebook page to see what they were posting along the way. Also, take a look at their routes on Endomondo and get inspired for your own cross-continental tour.
Thanks Victor and Timothée, for sharing this incredible experience with us. You guys are simply beyond awesome! We may just start a fan club 🙂
Free your endorphins!
The Endomondo Team