When the bike gives wings

"Roll-fly". Such was the ambition of Manon and Simon, who have been criss-crossing America by bike, in a quest for rides, meetings and... the best kite surfing spots. Their adventure, completed in mid-2019, will have lasted nearly a year.

"When we had to pull the cart, the first day I thought we'd never make it. The bikers we met said we were much too loaded. And then, in the end, you get used to it. The body adapts."If she's laughing about it today, Manon Condet wasn't leading the way in the early days of her journey, when she set off from Vancouver on July 11, 2018, alongside her companion, Simon Chauvat.

In search of an ecological way to discover the world, the two Saint-Pierrois imagined this journey, which they baptized "Rolling-flying". The concept? To cross America by bike, in search of the best kitesurfing spots, a discipline that Manon has been practicing for about fifteen years. But the trip was much more than that. Each step was a new journey in itself.

Step 1: North America: It all starts in a bike shop in Vancouver, Canada. They opt for steel frames,bikes that are reputed to be stronger and easier to repair. Each bike weighed 14 kg, when we added the equipment, water and food, we arrived at 40 kg each. In addition to the 45 kilos of cart, took turns pulling. So we quickly reduced our distance targets," explains this 30-year-old marine biologist, who had never been on a bicycle trip before. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Calculated according to the seasons

To participate in this adventure, she had to resign from her previous position, while her partner, Simon Chauvat, an environmental quality engineer, was able to take a sabbatical year. For the record, this activist is one of the co-founders of Alternatiba péi.
The couple's good physical condition - they both go on the trail - helps them overcome the physical shock of the first few days. And to take full advantage of this west coast, where they set sail as soon as they can.

In October, when they arrive in San Francisco, supposedly to mark the end of their North American journey, they feel so good that they push on to Los Angeles. Then on to Mexico, Baja California, where they arrive for the holidays. They've got 3,000 miles to cover.

Then begins the second stage of their adventure. Patagonia. The couple abandons the cart, the boards and the sails.
Only the bicycles accompany them on the plane to Santiago de Chile. "We had calculated our trip according to the seasons. We started in the North during the boreal summer and went down to the South during the fall, following the path of whales and migratory birds. Then we went to the southern hemisphere during the austral summer", Manon Condet explains.

In Chile, the couple headed for Ushuaia, the southern tip of the continent, about 2,500 kilometres away. "When you come from Reunion Island, where you're used to the tropical climate, discovering these landscapes, fjords and glaciers is really fascinating," says the biologist.
As soon as they can, they swap bikes for backpacks and go hiking in Chilean and Argentinean nature parks. They take advantage of these breaks to make some repairs to their bikes, which are undergoing a lot of stress.


Storms on the Altiplano

" The hardest thing in Patagonia is the wind. In some places, gusts exceed 50 miles an hour. When you get it from the front, you don't move. When it's sideways, it's very dangerous, you find yourself in the middle of the road, without even realising it. "This kitesurfing enthusiast is used to taming the trade winds.

In Ushuaia, where they arrive in March, they take a bus to the north of Argentina. It takes 54 hours to get them to Salta, the starting point of their third and last stage, probably the most physical one: the high plateaus of the Andes Cordillera. Desire but broken with the pedal strokes, they add an additional difficulty, linked to the altitude. On reaching San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, they pass their first COls at over 4000 m and discover the power of the Altiplano's storms, which force them, one evening, to find refuge in a school. In Bolivia, they are sufficiently acclimatised to allow themselves to climb (on foot) the Licancabur, a volcano that peaks at 5,916 m. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

They cycle through the enchanting landscapes of the South Lipez desert, then the Salar de Uyuni, reach La Paz, ride along Lake Titicaca, to finish their journey in Cuzco, at the gates of Machu Picchu.

In total, they will have cycled nearly 10,000 km. « It's within everyone's reach. Just don't get too impatient, get to know each other, adapt the distances... ", the globetrotter minimizes. The couple has been back in Reunion Island since last winter. With memories in their heads.

Guillaume KEMPF

Source : Le Quotidien de la Réunion

Release date: January 12, 2020

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