Pre-pandemic, Linda Beilig showed us how to bike around the world, before later authoring Pedalling the Planet, a 231-page book that documents over two years of her life in the saddle.
Beilig and her then-boyfriend Tim started their cycling journey in Manchester, England in March of 2018, before ultimately finishing in Mexico right as cases of COVID-19 began cropping up on a global scale.
Considering that Beilig was on the road for over two years, one might assume she has always exhibited a deep affinity for extreme adventure, but the Magdeburg, Germany native insists that while growing up, her cycling prowess wasn’t any more heralded than that of her contemporaries.
“At least, not more than other Germans,” Beilig says with a laugh. “It’s quite common in Germany to cycle as a kid, and as an adult. For a lot of people, it’s part of their daily life.”
Post-university, Beilig continued to cycle after accepting a job in Manchester, but even as her and Tim pedaled around Britain’s third-largest city, she never imagined she would one day become a nomad who would witness different countries and cultures from the seat of her bicycle.
That is until Tim approached her about the idea of cycling around the world, a sentiment she didn’t immediately embrace, but after much deliberation and planning, the couple agreed to quit their day jobs and embark on an adventure of epic proportions.
“I always wanted to go on a big adventure,” Beilig says. “And once Tim told me about his idea, and as our relationship progressed, his idea morphed into our idea and so we started planning everything together.”
Throughout the duo’s lengthy hiatus from conventional society, many things occurred, which is why Beilig made sure to capture the trip’s highlights on her website, which ironically is also entitled Pedalling the Planet.
Of course, there were myriad moments that made her trip across 31 countries unforgettable, but Beilig says that above all, what she will remember most were the interactions she had with regular people, and how these special events transcended language, culture, and politics.
“One of the things that always stuck with me was the kindness that people displayed. The vast majority of people in the world are so welcoming, and without that, the trip definitely would not have been the same,” Beilig explains.
From afar, it may seem like Beilig spent two years of her life unconstrained by western necessities such as taxes, rent payments, and 401k planning, but in reality, her life was still complicated, especially as being on the road every day began to chip away at the foundation of Beilig and Tim’s relationship.
For many long-distance cyclists, they too experience a disconnect with their riding partners, and in the context of romantic relationships, sometimes this can lead to couples learning that they aren’t meant to be together.
In the case of Beilig and Tim, their relationship reached its crescendo during the end of their stint in Australia.
“The breakup was a combination of factors, but spending so much time together and barely any time apart put our relationship to the test. It showed us a lot about our relationship but also a lot about ourselves, and we were forced to confront some things that we otherwise would have been able to ignore had we not been cycling around the world,” Beilig explains, before adding words of wisdom that only a handful of well-traveled cyclists are able to empathize with.
“Ultimately, relationships that fail during a trip like that would have failed anyway.”
Despite the culmination of their relationship, Beilig and Tim still forged ahead, intent on finishing the trip, albeit in a platonic manner.
And while a certain amount of mental fortitude was needed from both parties in order to overcome that setback, possessing that type of resiliency is why Beilig was able to go transcontinental, and it’s also why she is convinced so many others can do the same.
“Pretty much anyone can bike around the world. People always think that you have to be super fit and have trained for a trip like that, so they can’t imagine doing it, but when you break the daily miles down into manageable distances, your body becomes accustomed to the workload and you can easily cycle for a few hours every day,” Beilig shares.
“Again, the individual steps aren’t crazy, but people still think it’s insane. To be fair, I thought the same thing when I first heard about people biking around the world, but depending on where you live, the only thing holding you back are visa restrictions.”
Moreover, for those interested in one day cycling around the world, it should be noted that you don’t need to have millions of dollars in your bank account, or a mega-sponsor funding your ventures.
In Beilig’s case, she spent roughly $12 per day over the course of two years.
“See, people think you need to be rich to cycle around the world for two years,” Beilig says.
“And I get it: compared to people from poorer countries, I have a lot of money, but in comparison to people from my country, I am by no means rich.”
That being said, having a couple of commas in your bank account doesn’t automatically mean you should undertake a trip like Beilig’s, especially if you have an insulated view of the world.
“It is difficult to say who shouldn’t bike around the world,” Beilig mentions.
“Perhaps bigoted people shouldn’t, but then they also might become better people by becoming exposed to the different ways people live.”
Either way, the key takeaway from Beilig’s story is this:
Whether it’s cycling around the world or asking your boss for that big promotion, just do it, because afterward, regardless of if the pursuit was successful or not, you will be granted peace of mind, which is something that no amount of money or status can ever offer.
“The trip showed me how unimportant money is, so long as you have enough to get by,” says Beilig, a woman who these days is as happy as if she were once again cycling along the beaches of New Zealand.
“I have a job now and I’m super happy with that, but working isn’t the most important thing to me because when I listen to old people talk about their regrets, they often say they worked too much and didn’t spend enough time with their families. I don’t want that, and while I don’t know what will happen to me over the course of the next thirty years, hopefully I can still travel and stay in touch with the people who are most important to me.” QS
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