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Transcontinental – Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

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Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean is a challenging and rewarding adventure that spans thousands of miles and takes riders through diverse landscapes, from the rugged Appalachian mountains and the rolling hills of the midwest to the expansive great plains and the towering Rockies, ultimately culminating in the stunning beauty of the Pacific Coast.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

When I finished my studies last year, I wanted to see more of the world before settling down in a job that will consume most of my time for the next couple of years.

My boyfriend Toby, who is a passionate cyclist, wanted to ride his bike. So we thought, why not combine these two desires and travel around on our bicycles?

During my studies, I have been to Asia a couple of times and when we started planning this trip I had this dream to cycle through countries like Laos and Vietnam.

But since I have never been on a longer bike trip before (Toby already had some experience in traveling on a bicycle), we decided to start our journey in Europe and go to Portugal first.

We also liked the idea of going through the whole Eurasian continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

Since Toby is a bike mechanic, we built our own best bicycles. We used old steel frames and equipped them with new components, which were fitting for us.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

We bought waterproof bags, a tent that was big enough for both of us and our luggage, and a gasoline cooker, to prepare a warm meal in the evening. Besides that, we just took the equipment and clothes we had at home anyway, nothing special.

We didn’t expect extreme weather conditions in Western Europe in the summer and also if we would be in need of anything we could still get it on the way.

We quit our jobs, my studies were done, and we didn’t have to be back at a certain date but to be honest, in the beginning, I did not know how long this journey would be since I didn’t have a lot of experience in traveling by bicycle.

I had some doubts if this would be the right way of traveling for me. But making the decision to get out of my comfort zone and experience something new already felt so exciting!

Then the day came when the bikes were ready and everything was packed and we just needed to start our journey and ride our bikes.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

We didn’t really plan our route in advance. We were looking at the map every day to decide where to go or which road to take.

We just had one goal in the beginning: reaching Biarritz in the south of France within one month to meet some friends. It was good to have a goal in the beginning, to have a destination to reach.

Afterward, we kept following the coast of northern Spain, Portugal, and then Andalucia, seeing every day where it will lead us.

In the end, we spent the whole summer in Western Europe and our plan to go east became difficult, since we were not really prepared for winter, and to be honest we didn’t want to prepare for it.

We thought about our options and decided to spend the winter in Morocco. So we spent some more time in southern Spain and then took a ferry to Ceuta. We were really excited because we did not expect to leave Europe so soon.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

In the beginning, it was exhausting to cycle in Morocco. Everything was really different. There were people everywhere.

Even in the desert, where you don’t expect human beings, suddenly someone was sitting on the side of the road.

And as foreigners, we got a lot of attention. Waving, smiling, thumbs up, greetings, invitations, and sometimes people even tried to sell us something out of their car.

We needed to get used to that but after a while, it was nice having so many friendly interactions with strangers.

Also, it was difficult to find a place to sleep. In Europe, we used to pitch our tent in the evening without any trouble but in Morocco, on the first night, we got sent away by some military guys who were guarding the coast.

We cycled to the next café and they allowed us to pitch our tent in their garden. Then a guy on a scooter came and gave us his phone.

There was a policeman on the phone, telling us we were not allowed to sleep in the garden. We should go to a hotel, which was more than 20 kilometers away.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

Fortunately, the café owner offered us a place to sleep inside the house and that was okay. We had a quiet night and in the morning he even offered us tea and breakfast.

So we learned that it is easier to ask people for a place to stay than to find a spot where you can do wild camping.

First, this felt like giving away some of our freedom and being dependent on someone else to find shelter for the night.

But we got used to it more and more and we met some truly amazing people. The generosity and hospitality of the Moroccan people are breathtaking and heartwarming and beyond everything we expected.

So, in the end, it was the best decision for us to come to this beautiful country, where we spent exciting three months.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

Afterward, it was time to come back to Spain. A lot of things got easier for us back in Europe, like finding drinkable water or camping spots and during the first days, I was glad that not a single person cared about me (except Toby of course).

The only interactions we had with strangers were in the supermarket. A week later I already missed all those friendly interactions and smiling faces.

But we were back on track and now it was finally time to cycle east, following the Mediterranean coastline. Until now we made it to southern France, over eleven months on the road and a distance of more than 12.000 kilometers behind us.

This sounds like a huge number but in the end, we just needed to get back on our bike day by day.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

This can be exhausting and we had those kinds of feelings too. Sometimes we have been tired of being on the road all the time, not knowing where we will end up by the end of the day, and packing and unpacking our stuff every morning and evening.

After so much time on the road I can say that this trip is not just a vacation for us, we completely changed the way of our lives, and sometimes there are good as well as bad times.

So whenever we had those feelings we just took a break. Sometimes it was enough to spend some quiet days in nature but sometimes we needed longer breaks.

So we searched for projects which were interesting for us. In Portugal, we stayed for three weeks to work and celebrate a big festival.

In Morocco, we worked for a couple of weeks with a friend who owns a café at the beach, where we spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve and in Spain, we stayed two weeks doing some voluntary work on a civil sea rescue ship from the Seapunks organization.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

Those were great experiences and we met so many inspiring people. But after a while, we always noticed that we want to get back on our bicycles because there is so much more to see and we are not ready to settle down yet.

I still don’t know if we will reach Asia or if we will find a safe way to get there but for now, there is nothing else I want to do than keep on going.

Cycling from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean

Toby & Mila, cycle together to discover the world on their bikes. Big Goal: Pacific Ocean!

This is the story of Mila and Toby and this part of their cycling story is written by Mila. Follow them on Instagram! (@cycling.together)

Happy Biking!

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