I’ve just went and cycled across Brazil! When my front wheel touched the beach I smiled and thought wow I’ve just cycled another country. I thanked my body, pulled my bikini out my panniers and embraced the beach!
Over the last 11 months I’ve pedalled across Chile, Bolivia, Brazil and parts of Argentina. I’ve cycled over 9000 km and trekked 300 km. That makes 16 countries in 2 years by bicycle.
I began cycling the South American continent in Ushuaia, Argentina. It’s the most southernly town in the world and has been labelled the end of the world.
To reach mainland I had to cycle across Tierra de Fuego island, meaning Land off Fire. It was cold. And windy.
I cycled past the King Penguins and I wanted to be in their gang!
On reaching Puerto Natales, Southern Chile, I left the bicycle and treked 100 miles of the Torres del Paine National Park.
It took me two attempts to fulfil this lifelong dream. On Xmas day 2015 I almost lost my life in a freak snow storm. I was found in the final stages of hypothermia minutes from unconsciousness. The second biggest glacier in the southern hemisphere gave no warning of the snow storm it would drop.
But I survived and on New Years Day I enjoyed the first sunrise of the year enjoying a whisky on a boulder under the 2000 metre high Torres Towers.
Next I cycled to the Los Glaciers National Park in Argentina and checked out some of the largest glaciers in the world.
I pedalled to El Chalten, Argentina and went trekking with Lucinda; an Argentinian woman I met cycling in the opposite direction. On Easter Sunday we ate our chocolate in our tent then went walking on a glacier unassisted!
In Antofagasta, Chile I spent 1 month volunteering at a street dog sterilisation and adoption centre. I assisted the vets in surgery, walked the dogs, played with the puppies and loved each dog with all my heart. It was an amazing experience and I said thank you by photographing the dogs for adoption and teaching the do’s and dont’s for adoption success.
Antofagasta is in the desert and receives only 1.7 mm of rain a year. But it lies on the coast so you can spot seals and pelicans. Surreal because you are in a city in the desert!
I appeared on a television chat show in Chile talking about street dogs around the world and gave a talk at Antofagasta University about street dogs and dog behaviour.
I cycled 5000 metres above sea level. The highest I had ever been! Pedalling 65 kg of equipment over the Andes mountains to reach Bolivia was tough. There wasn’t enough oxygen.
At 4600 meters the blood capillaries in my nose began exploding and I was pedalling with blood all over my face. A storm had dropped and if I had taken a hand off the handlebars to wipe my face I would’ve been blown right off the mountain.
This was my face after a 4600 metre pass.
I was camping at – 20 degrees celsius. My sleeping bag has a comfort rating of 2 degrees celsius. It has a limit of – 4 degrees celsius. The extreme limit is – 21 degrees celsius which means I won’t die as long as it doesn’t get colder than -21 degrees celsius.
One morning I woke up in my sleeping bag and I had a sheet of ice curved over my scalp.
Some people have everything they need to succeed and still don’t.
Others don’t have everything they need and go ahead and succeed anyway. Be the latter in life.
Cycling one of the highest and remotest landscapes on earth. The Bolivian Altiplano. Can you imagine day after day of cycling at altitudes of 4000 metres and above?
I cycled across the biggest salt plain in the world. The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. You can check out the videos on my [ilink url=”https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSWPqXGb8ShpfBtbQVsptJQ”]You Tube Channel [/ilink]
I cycled the route of Che Guavara through the cloud forest to a small remote school room where he was executed.
I had a one woman protest against a big corporation and won when all my online friends made it go viral.
I held my first ever press conference in Santa Cruz and got the women’s rights campaign #IranianWomenLoveCycling featured across Bolivian television, newspaper and radio.
I appeared on my first television breakfast show chatting about cycling the world and again used it to highlight women’s rights.
My Bolivian visa was coming to an end which caused me to cycle 650 km in 4 days! On one of those days I achieved 215 km whilst pedalling 65kg of equipment! Another day I hit 200 km! #ThisGirlCan
Upon reaching Brazil I cycled through the Pantanal jungle.
I surprised even myself by swimming in the wild with alligators and piranhas. Cycling off road in the tropical heat was a big encourager. So was Gina; one of the biggest cycling activists in Bolivia and avid wildlife photographer who joined me for the jungle.
The wildlife was nothing like back home. If I’m being honest I’d rather face an alligator than the Scottish Midge!
Being able to get television time to highlight human and animal rights campaigns is one of the greatest things about cycling the world.
In Brazil I spoke out on television asking for the release of Iranian human rights activist and mother of two Narges Mohammadi jailed for 16 years for nothing more than exercising freedom of speech.
And now I’ve reached the coast of Brazil! A new adventure unfolds, a new environment to be explored and another item to be ticked off the bucket list – learning to surf!
This is so much more than just a cycle around the world!
The social media hashtags I am supporting as I cycle the world are:
Check out these other amazing cyclists using their two wheels for great causes.
- Mike & his dog Bixby are cycling around the USA highlighting the importance of adoption and supporting animal shelters. Click here for their website: [ilink url=”http://www.wheresbixby.com/”]Where’s Bixby?[/ilink]
- Juan Dual is Spanish and is cycling the world having had his stomach, colon, rectum and gallbladder removed because of cancer. He is 30 years old and is now cycling to raise awareness about cancer. You can catch him on Facebook – click here: [ilink url=”https://www.facebook.com/runnife/”]Runnife [/ilink]
- Laura and Reza are doctors in Glasgow, Scotland. They are cycling the length of the Andes mountains and are raising funds and awareness for the charity LifeBox. You can check out their website here: [ilink url=”http://www.fifty7degreessouth.com/home/”]Fifty 7 Degrees South[/ilink] and Lifebox website here: [ilink url=”http://www.lifebox.org/”]Life Box [/ilink]
We are using our bicycles to make a positive contribution to the world around us.
Many thanks for being part of the ride!
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.