Here is your inside look at our trip so far! We are so grateful to have this platform of adventure to raise money and awareness about an issue we are so passionate about. Most days are pretty much the same, but we have compiled some of the highlights below. Stay tuned for more on why we are in this fight and why we are fundraising for Lighthouse Voyage.
Hey Everybody! Joel here.
It’s crazy to think that we have already been on the road for one month! After a rough few weeks of trying to figure out our daily rhythms of buying food, finding water, cooking, setting up camp, navigation, language and cultural barriers, we finally feel as though we have found our groove. We have settled into patterns and an understanding that this is what life is going to look like for the next five months.
We have been so blown away by the people who have blessed us by taking us into their homes, covering our bills at restaurants, giving us amazing deals on bike repairs, and simply supporting us in other capacities. We have love sharing about the purpose of our journey with such a mix of amazing people. Some of these people are pictured below.
In the last two weeks we have been in four different countries and have travelled well over 1000km. We left Prague after a restful two and a half day break and headed for Austria. For some reason we found it very difficult to find water our first day in the country. The towns we passed through were small and seemed relatively uninhabited and no public taps were turned on. It was a scorcher of a day and we were incredibly discouraged and dehydrated, but we knew we had no choice but to press on. Then, in the most unsuspecting town, we came across an public outdoor pool with wooden decks and reeds all around the outside. It honestly felt like we had found our own little paradise in the middle of a desert. We filtered water from the pool (it was fed from a natural source), ate lunch, and then went for a swim. We felt revitalized and felt ready to push on.
After crossing into Slovakia we made our way to Bratislava and spent a day purchasing resources we were low on and getting some much needed self-care. It was just a short stretch from there to Budapest where we were again refreshed by getting to stay with an amazing host, Viktor (above). Following this, we camped a few nights without our tent because the forecast said it would rain and we couldn’t find bridges with enough flat space to put up our tent.
After one of these restless nights we woke to discover our navigation app wasn’t working. We headed out into the rain in hopes of getting wifi, but chances seemed slim being that it was Sunday. However, we ended up running into a dreadlocked hippy nicknamed ‘Rasta’ (above) who invited us into his home to use his wifi. We got the app up and running and headed on our way, but not before his sister and mother served us coffee, tea and pancakes and gave us a tour of their beautiful home and farm. We left in high spirits. Twenty kilometres later, Brad broke two spokes on the gear side of the rear wheel that we needed a bike shop to help with the replacement. We asked locals if there was a repair shop around, but the town was far too small. It was at this point that we had to humble ourselves and admit that we couldn’t do every kilometre across Europe by bike. So we boarded a train and headed for the city of Debrecen in Hungary.
One hour and 70kms later we arrived in the city. We found a Macdonald’s and used their wifi to look up bike shops, but nothing was open until the morning. In a last ditch effort to find a place to sleep, we fired off a couple requests on Couchsurfer and to our surprise we got a response! An hour later we were acquainted with our friend Mazin, who is a cyclist himself, and a doctor from Saudi Arabia. He was an amazing host and took us to a bike shop in the morning before introducing us to some delicious Hungarian food.
Then we headed for the mountains of Romania. These last two days were two of the most mentally challenging yet. We had to walk our fully loaded bikes for kilometres at a time up rocky logging roads to get through the mountains. It was a miracle that our tires survived. On the second day, after our slowest morning on record and nearly 60km of not seeing a paved road, we hit asphalt. It felt like a dream. Almost immediately the road changed from a mountainous ascent to a 40km downhill cruise which took us to where we now rest in a family run guest house in Campulung, Romania.
At points during all of these stories there were moments we wanted to quit, to call it a day, to turn around and head back to smoother roads. As I reflected on these moments I reflected on why we kept going and I realized that it was for one simple reason: we had hope that there was something better in store, that eventually the rough road would end and the asphalt would appear, that the rain would relent and the sun would come again.
And we believe this for our cause as well. We believe that for each individual trapped in sexual slavery there is hope. We have faith that something better lies ahead for every person. We all need to cling to this hope for ourselves and for every cause, and every person we encounter. This is how change is possible.
This is why we are fundraising for an organization that is making a tangible difference in people’s lives. We are so honoured to announce that since the launch of our campaign in late December of 2015, we have already raised over $25,000 for Lighthouse Voyage, which is an organization that partners with local efforts in India and Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex-trafficking. As little as $200 can be difference between captivity and freedom, so this sum is an enormous amount! However, we are not done yet. We believe in something better and an even greater change is possible as you continue to give so generously. Thank you for the crazy love and support!
With much love and great anticipation,
Joel & Brad
Hello from Prague!
Nine straight days and almost one thousand kilometres has brought us here from Cologne, Germany. We are so thankful to be staying at a friends apartment right in the heart of the city. A much needed couple days filled with rest and a few errands (plus two Euro Cup matches on TV). Life has reluctantly slowed down – temporarily.
We left Cologne knowing we had a long rough stretch to push through. Our first few days we dealt with some minor navigation problems. It would have been so nice to just hop on the Autobahn and cruise to the next city. We did attempt that earlier in the trip, only to be honked at by every passing vehicle. So we resorted back to winding through the hills using our trusty GPS to guide us. Even that proved to be half helpful most of the time. Once we got through two days of up and down country hills, we managed to finally figure out how the signs worked for the cycling paths in Germany. This made our days flow much more smoothly because we didn’t have to stop every other turn on the road to see if we were still on route. It was smooth sailing for the rest of Germany.
At this point we have both gotten used to eating much of the same food everyday. Fruit and muesli for breakfast, sandwiches or pasta for lunch and pasta for dinner. Throughout the day we are munching on granola, nuts and protein bars. We make an effort every day to find a cool place to cook lunch. Whether that’s at the top of a big hill overlooking a town or on a picnic bench beside a cool river. Dinner usually ends up being after we post up for the night – usually under a bridge or overpass. By that time we are pretty tired. If it rained all all, we make an effort to set up a line to hang our wet stuff on. Then it’s time to read and sleep.
About four hundred kilometres outside of Prague we ran into these two young Czech guys who were headed back home. As friendly Canadians, we began talking with them about life on the road. We decided it would be a great idea to ride together since we both were bound for the big city. Thankfully for us, they had Czech crown. Our lack of research made us assume the Czech Republic used Euros. So we had to borrow a bit from them until we were able to exchange currencies. They treated us to a fantastic traditional Czech meal in a small village and filled our bellies with Czech sweets for four days. They were two of the friendliest guys we’ve met so far. Even helped us with a few spoke repairs in the middle of remote mountain trails. Not a bad introduction to the Czech Republic.
We arrived in Prague at lunch on Tuesday. We wished our new friends well on the rest of their journey and we parted ways. By this time, Joel and I were both eager to shower, eat and prop our feet up and watch a footy game. Nine days is likely going to be our longest stretch between real showers and beds while we are in Europe. It hasn’t taken long for either of us to appreciate a cozy bed, clean clothes or a nice warm shower. When you pack you’re lives into eight 20L saddle bags, food and shelter take priority. Clothing, comfort and cleanliness become luxury. You learn how easily we take those things for granted.
As we move onto the next leg of our journey this evening, we both want to thank everyone for keeping us in their prayers. God has been good and has provided us with what we need thus far. Putting the right people in our path and keeping our minds focused on why we’re doing this. We often do have to remind each other why we chose to do what we’re doing. It’s not about us, or the money, or the photos, or the travelling. We do this because we genuinely want to see a change in the way people are viewed and treated around the world.
We love you all and are so thankful for each person reading
“The aim of life is appreciation; there is no sense in not appreciating things; and there is no sense in having more of them if you have less appreciation of them.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton
Brad and Joel