On Friday, Nov. 30, adventure cyclists Janick Lemieux and Pierre Bouchard will give a special multimedia presentation on their 24,000 kilometer “volcano-hopping” mountain bike trek from Jakarta to Vancouver.
Pierre and Janick descending Novo Tolbatchik cinder cones in Northern Kamchatka.
Part of our 2012 Bicycle Film Series, the presentation, titled “Cycling the Pacific Ring of Fire part 3…Full Circle”, will feature stunning images, several original video excerpts, and animated maps and graphics portraying the third and last leg of their decade-long, 40,000-mile adventure that started when they set off on their immensely loaded mountain bikes in the spring of 1999 and headed south.
As we lead up to their presentation, here’s part 1 of a Q&A with the Canadian cyclists:
- The stories, pictures, and the feat of the travels in itself are astonishing. How and when did you two decide to embark on such an incredible journey together?
Janick and Pierre: It all started with a conversation in the tent, during another freezing night on a winter mtb traverse of the Tibetan Plateau. Giardias’ despotic protozoa, high altitude thin air, and chronic insomnia having a strong grasp on us then:
-“If we make it out of here alive, it’ll be pretty good!”
+”Yeah, hope it’s soon too! But if we do, then what?”
-”Hmmm, we’ll probably be human again, so we could keep on riding and travelling, keep this existence program of ours going. Checking our planet out on our bikes…”
+”Yeah…but where to this time?”
-“Well, mountains usually fulfill us beyond our… ”
+”Yeah, yeah but mountains where we won’t be freezing our butts off like these ones!”
-”Hmmm… mountains, heat, fire, mountains of fire, volcanoes… the volcanoes of the Pacific Ring of Fire!”+”Yeah… travelling around the Pacific, pedaling from one volcano to the next! Yeah!”
This exercise, aimed at exorcising our little ailments at the time, took place in January 1998. In May 1999, we were riding out of Vancouver to undertake the first stage of what will later become a trilogy, our “cyclovolcanic” quest: Vancouver/Santiago de Chile, Santiago de Chile/Jakarta, and Jakarta/Vancouver!
- What were the ultimate goals?
Kilauea volcano's lava delta. Hawaii
Perfect pretext, excuse to launch ourselves on another big adventure, by “volcano-hopping” around the Pacific, meeting its peoples along the way, climbing to the summit of some of its “live” volcanoes, and trekking around others while getting acquainted with local cultures and familiar with foreign landscapes. We set out to learn more about volcanism, one of our very dynamic planet’s constant mode of formation, and its multifarious manifestations along the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.
We visited with volcanologists in every country, spending time in their observatories and getting briefed on their studies and research projects. Armed to the teeth – several SLR and digital cameras, miniDV video camcorder, mini-disc digital audio recorder, laptop computer, notebooks, all of our senses and both our memories! –, we documented and recorded the daily life of the people and the behavior of volcanoes encountered along the way, so we could share the adventures and little discoveries as the expedition unfolded and afterwards in the form of published articles, multimedia documentaries, and blogs. We’re currently working on a pictorial book about the whole expedition.
- Why did you choose to travel by bicycle?
Simply because to us, it is the most harmonious way to travel over land. We can talk about advantages of using bikes to get around on our planet for hours, even days. So let’s keep it short!
Besides allowing us to cover a considerable distance in any given period of time, having a minimal carbon impact, keeping us in great physical condition, being economical, above all it really connects us intimately with our surroundings, both natural and human! Without being caged in a glass and window box, travelling at a more down-to earth-scale and reasonable speed, all of our senses are solicited to participate in the discovery of a place, a region, a country or a continent. One can take the time needed to see the features of the land he or she is going through, and can even stop to get closer; hear animals, water, leaves; smell (though this is not always a treat ); and feel with the skin, thus recording essential elements that make the land we’re riding in. All of these for some anatomical and everlasting memories!
Local kids enjoy a spin with the maily tricycle on ash tracks at the foot of Mayon volcano. Philippines