In Episode 003 of Bike Tour Adventures, two French guys, Pablo and Guillaume, share their story of cycling a tandem bike from Paris to SE Asia, pushing their bike up mountains, and dealing with a broken bike in India.

I had the opportunity to meet Pablo and Guillaume when they first messaged me asking if I would be their Warmshowers host. I was unable to host them for more than a few nights, but luckily they were able to find a place to host them for the week they planned to stay in Phnom Penh. They asked if they would be able to do a talk at a school while in Phnom Penh, as they are trying to raise awareness about people with disabilities. Although I work at a different school, I arranged for them to get in touch with the Principal of Ecole Francaise Internationale de Phnom Penh (French International School of Phnom Penh) and he was really excited by having these two French guys who’ve cycled around the world come and meet his students. Seeing as both school share a campus, I also took this opportunity to record my third podcast episode at the end of the day. There was a slight echo in the room, and for that I apologize.

These best of friend’s planned for years to do a bike tour together around the world. While they were in the preparation stage of saving money, Pablo was working as a bike courier in Paris and started to suffer from some pretty serious knee pain. After extensive consultations with various specialists, it was determined (non-conclusively) that he most likely had arthritis in his knee. This was not good. They began to think that they need to cancel their trip around the world. Luckily, they came across a tandem bike made by a company called Hase Bikes which could be modified to allow the front rider to pedal with their hands. Unfortunately, it was way more expensive (8000 Euros) then what they could afford. Luck was with them again when they applied to various companies for sponsorship and one of them accepted, nearly covering the entire cost of the bike.

With a tour that has taken them through 20 countries and over 14,000 km of cycling, these two friends have overcome extraordinary challenges. Riding such an original type of bike has resulted in them having some amazing experiences, as they stand out when on the roads and in towns. However, it’s not always easy, and sometimes they needed to get off the bike and push for two days to go over a mountain range in Iran, or struggle to get on a train in India when they had a major breakdown. Through it all, these two friends have stuck together and by using half feet, half hands, have created a story they will never forget. 

“We took two days to do like 37km. Just pushing and doing like 3000 metre climb … We always try not [to] take such really hilly roads, because we are not here to just push for days and days.”

Although originally planning to cycle for 2 years plus, all around the world, they have recently decided to end this portion of their travels at the end of summer 2019. They have found the spending 24 hours a day together has proven to be quite the challenge and that they feel as though they have accomplished what the set out to do in March 2018, have no regrets, and are both planning to continue their trip around the world, but in their own way.

“We decided one and half months ago to just stop in France … To stop travelling with this bicycle, because it’s, as we say, it’s hard and it takes a lot of you, a lot of your effort, a lot of your energy and everything … and we still want to be friends in one year.”


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Show Notes

~ 30 sec Introduction

~ 1 min Bike tour statistics and a bit about cycling in Iran

~ 4′ Doing less to enjoy more: why they don’t ride a specific number of km per day

~ 5′ Talking about the budget, where they sleep, managing finances

~ 10′ Challenges they’ve had to overcome. Getting a specially made bike. Broken bike in India.

~ 22′ How could they afford an 8000 Euro bike

~ 23′ 30″ Handling such a big bike. Route planning, pushing and pulling.

~ 26′ 30″ Riding a tandem as two dudes. Together 24 hours a day. Having to discuss every decision.

~ 29′ The good things about cycling on a tandem. Stronger together. Getting places to sleep. The ultimate ice-breaker.

~ 33′ Travelling with kids.

~ 34′ Upcoming plans for Vietnam. Making the decision to end a trip early. Next trip ideas.

~ 39′ Pluses and minuses of using a tandem bike.

~ 41′ Most unforgettable moment.

~ 44′ Best advice someone has given them

~ 46′ What advice they would give their 20 year old self

~ 48′ Ending the show and preview to the next episode.

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