If you are interested in cycling long distance… which here
means across continents, then you have to be ready to make
sacrifices. Girlfriends for one. That is precisely what 25-year-old
Tobias Friedmann and his pal Sebastian Vogt decided to do once they
made up their mind to cycle from Berlin to New Zealand. “We broke
off,” quip the Germans.
The duo mounted their Rs 75,000 American and German-made
long-distance bikes and started pedalling on April 8 for a journey
that would take them across continents and an estimated 20,000 km.
Cycling at a steady clip they came into Chandigarh looking around
for an internet cafe, which strangely seemed very elusive to their
eyes despite their abundance!
“We are both students and had been cycling within Europe as and
when we could get the time. Then we decided to do something big and
check out people and places in Asia and beyond. We plan to spend an
average of $ 500 (about Rs 25,000) every month. Until now that has
been sufficient,” says Tobias.
The neatly attached cycling panniers that carry all their
luggage, including tents, spares, puncture repairing equipment in
addition to digital trip meters counting the kilometres as they slip
by, has seen them through quite well this far.
The route to date has taken them from Germany to the Czech
Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Yugoslavia,
Montenegro, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and finally India. From
here, they plan to cycle to Nepal, perhaps Tibet, and then into
China before turning their front tyres south and biking across South
“Traffic in India is very dangerous. It is a nightmare to ride
on roads with big trucks and buses driving dangerously close to the
edge of the road. We feel very scared for our lives,” says
Sebastian. However, the two feel that traffic is even worse in
Pakistan. “Whew!” they says in unison. Even putting up tents in
India is a problem. “Unlike Europe and other parts of Asia which are
sparsely populated, India is very crowded. Now, you cannot expect us
to put up a tent in the middle of a city street. We have to find a
secure place, which we do not easily. This has pushed our costs up
as we have to stay in hotels,” adds Sebastian.
They arrange their visas either in advance or in the country
that they are cycling in. Looking for something to eat, they both
cycled into the university campus, where they made interesting
viewing for onlookers at the students centre. Worried for their
expensive bikes, the two started rolling them up the ramp to the
third storey of the centre before a university guard came running
and asked them what they were up to. After understanding their
problem, the guard unlocked a room and parked their cycles inside!