Most people cycle for exercise or to get to the office or shops. But there is the option to use pedal power for a grander purpose – to see the world and change your life. Just like couple Tristan Bogaard and Belen Castello have done.
They have spent the past three years on an epic bike ride, clocking up 15,000km (9,320 miles) across seven countries and three continents, from California and Oregon to Italy, Spain and Norway, and across the dizzyingly extreme landscapes of Central Asia.
They’ve cycled along one of the world’s highest roads, had their breath taken away by epic glacial valleys, peaks and fjords and pedalled across volcanic Martian-esque plateaus. And the adventure has been recorded for posterity in a stunning coffee table book called Bike Life, published by Lannoo.
Dutchman Tristan and Spaniard Belen are both talented photographers and the tome is brimming with incredible pictures they took along the way. The tome also contains vivid descriptions of the highs and lows of the odyssey, plus invaluable tips on where to sleep, eat and drink and the cycling-friendliness of each country.
It goes deeper, though. In the prologue they say: ‘In this book we will be exploring what it means to travel by bicycle. The pros and cons, the healing, life-changing effect it can have on you… and your visual and mental understanding of the world we live in. On your bike you adopt a different approach to prioritising what really matters in your life.’
Scroll down for a peek at some of the mesmerising photography in a book that, as Lannoo says, breathes adventure…
Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road, near Trondheim, which is described in the book as ‘a joy to cycle’ and ‘memorable’, though in the summer it can apparently ‘be quite busy and the weather stormy’, so a visit off-season is recommended
This eye-catching image was taken in the Lofoten Islands – ‘the world’s most famous Arctic islands’
In the Lofoten Islands Tristan and Belen stayed the night in this stylishly quirky structure, designed by an architecture firm called 70°N Arkitektur. It’s called The Syklisthuset (or cyclist shelter) and is, we’re told, ‘on a hidden piece of land right by the sea… built to accommodate passing cyclists and protect them against the fierce winds, no fee, no guidelines’
The book describes Norway as ‘one of the world’s most remarkable places to cycle’ with ‘spectacular’ roads to cycle up and down. Pictured here is Norangsdalen, a ‘gorgeous valley’
Tristan and Belen loved cycling in Norway partly because of the friendliness of its citizenry. One local family invited the pair to dinner and let them stay the night in their guest room ‘all because we had arrived at our ferry stop a couple of hours too early.’ This image was taken in More og Romsdal county
Belen with her bike on an empty double-ended car ferry crossing a remote fjord in west Norway
A ‘victory view’ on Norway’s ‘roof of the world’ – a mountain called Dalsnibba. The summit is at an elevation of 4,843ft (1,476m) and offers spectacular views of Geirangerfjord. The ascent is not easy. Cyclists must grind up a hairpin road with a gradient on one stretch of 9.6 per cent, reports the book. But the good news is that bicycles get past the tollbooth on it for free ‘because they think you’re mental’
Blissful view: Setting up camp on the shores of a beautiful lake called Bergheimsvatnet
A water break while climbing Stalheimskleiva, one of Northern Europe’s steepest roads. It has lung-busting gradients of up to 18 per cent. On the plus side – there are a couple of nice waterfalls to look at
Belen pictured in the spectacular Dolomites mountain range in Italy, a country the book describes as a ‘cycling mecca’
In Italy the pair cycled five passes in five days, which with 25kg of luggage each proved to be quite tough. The book says in the tips section: ‘The average height of a pass is around 1,400m (4,593ft), which can quickly add up to more than climbing the height of Everest – on your loaded bicycle. Plan your route carefully’
A drone shot of Tristan and Belen cycling in Lanzarote. The book says: ‘With its volcanic formations that vary from dark red to deep black and dry cracks of brown, there is a marvellous spectrum of colours to ride through’
Belen coasting along on the smallest of the Canary Islands, El Hierro. The authors say that it’s ‘packed with natural wonders like rich forests, lava-sculptured rocks and natural pools’
A twisting road Tristan and Belen cycled along on Gran Canaria, which they say is ‘known for its mystically shaped rocks’. They told MailOnline Travel that every island in the Canary Islands archipelago ‘is like a little world in itself, plus you can enjoy the very enjoyable Spanish lifestyle’
Tristan by the Panj River in Tajikistan. The authors describe this route as ‘no means an easy place to cycle’. They say: ‘The sound of the river drilled into our ears more and more each day, while the dust and vibrating handlebars over washboard and chunks of leftover road ate away at our motivation.’ To add to the hardship, temperatures during the day hit 40C
A stunning drone shot of the Panj River, with Tajikistan to the right and Afghanistan on the other side. Conditions are harsh in Tajikistan, the book explains, but the hospitality of the locals helps. Tristan and Belen were regularly offered meals by complete strangers
Up, up and away: The Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, where more than 50 per cent of the landmass is higher than 3,000m (9,842ft)
Throughout Kyrgyzstan you can find typically arched structures welcoming you to a town or region, the authors say
Kyrgyzstan, say the authors, ‘stole our hearts’. And with landscapes like this, it’s not surprising
Ak Baital, the highest pass of the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan at 4,655m (15,272ft). The authors say: ‘The climb to the top offers a unique possibility to realise how important the oxygen we breathe is’
Cycling in California amid jaw-dropping redwood trees. The road, in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, is known as the Avenue of the Giants. This was ‘an absolute highlight’, the authors proclaim
‘Oregon’s coastline stands out for its rolling dunes and rugged cliff formations, which make the whole ride so entertaining and enjoyable,’ say the authors
Bike Life covers journeys totalling around 15,000km (9,320 miles) across seven countries and three continents
Bike Life: Full of beautiful photos, personal anecdotes, advice and reports on the many things Tristan Bogaard and Belén Castelló learned on their cycling trips through Europe, North America and Central Asia
- To order the book click here. Tristan can be found on Instagram here and Belen here.