- It took only three months for Aedewan Mohamed Adnan to cycle 4,300 kilometres solo across 13 countries in Europe
It took only three months for Aedewan Mohamed Adnan to cycle 4,300 kilometres solo across 13 countries in Europe, a trip which he describes as an unforgettable experience.
Starting his journey in Istanbul, Turkey, in April this year, the 35-year-old said he had finally reached his goal of riding along the Adriatic coast of the Balkan Peninsula.
On an average day, Aedewan said he rode his bicycle between 60 and 80km, covering Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, a small part of Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, before finally crossing the channel to England.
The advantages of traveling solo, he said, was that he was able to go through the day at his own pace.
“I stop for breaks whenever I feel tired or just stop to admire the sights along the way.
“I also stop to chat with the locals, which is much easier, as they feel more relaxed and comfortable with a solo traveller,” he told The Rakyat Post when contacted recently.
Aedewan said his first attempt at long distance cycle touring was in 2011 when he cycled with his father Adnan Osman, 69, to the London Olympics from Kolkata, India. In that adventure, he joined his father in Kolkata and took seven months to ride to London.
He said he was inspired by his father’s first bicycle tour back in 2008 when he cycled from Kuala Lumpur to China for the Beijing Olympics.
The trip to China was cut short at the border as he could not get a visa to enter the country, then.
During his recent adventure, Aedewan said he experienced cultural enrichment as he would often receive invitations for drinks or meals from people he met on the trip.
“Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you get invited back to their homes to spend the night.”
However, Aedewan said the downside of travelling solo was the loneliness, but he overcame this by keeping himself motivated with an open and positive mind.
One of the notable experiences, he said, was the invitation to the wedding of a couple whom he and his father met in Germany on their previous tour.
“It was such a coincidence that they were about to have their wedding while I was in Germany. I took a few days off from riding to celebrate the occasion with them.
“It was a freestyle garden wedding in Bavaria, so it was truly a unique and memorable experience for me.”
Aedewan said his favourite destination was Lake Constance in Germany, which had a picturesque view of the Alps in the background.
On the dangers of long-distance cycling, Aedewan said he had been fortunate over his health, despite the scorching heat along the Balkan peninsula.
“I was lucky with my bicycle, too. There were no problems, not even a single puncture! “
“There were no dangerous situations as well as people were always warm and friendly whenever I stopped to ask for directions,” he said, adding he had no trouble crossing the borders in the Balkan countries and also in central Europe.
In 2012, Aedewan, who travelled 15,000km from India to join the Olympic celebrations in London, was arrested by police after being mistaken as a cycling campaigner during its opening ceremony.
He was one of 182 arrested, including a 13-year-old boy, after participating in a Critical Mass to promote safe road cycling by riding in numbers.
But this did not deter Aedewan from pursuing more cycling travels.
He said Malaysians were considered a “lucky” bunch, but not many of them knew that they can travel visa-free to 166 countries.
“That should be enough reason to go out and start exploring.
“I would encourage more young Malaysians to get out of their comfort zone, travel by bicycle to see the world.
“There is so much to explore and see and you get to meet a lot of nice people who are willing to help and be intrigued by bicycle travel.” He said.
On his expenses, Aedewan, who sells action figurines on his online business, said he saved for the journey.
“You don’t really spend a lot when you travel by bike. Some days you don’t spend any money at all. You just have to stock up on food and carry fresh water for cooking, mainly dry or canned food as I have a stove and a tent with me,”
“You should be prepared to do some stealth or hidden camping. The aim is to spend less so that you can save to travel longer.”
He added there were also people met along the way who were willing to host him, which was very helpful. There were also websites that offered hosting such as couch surfing or warm showers.
Aedewan said he would return to Malaysia in two weeks and was looking forward to catching up with loved ones and friends, and also to explore more of Malaysia by bike.
“And perhaps I might even plan for the next big trip,” he said.