I could spend the rest of my life in a bubble of expectations. Or I can take a leap of faith and discover the unexpected, the disillusioning, the marvellous. – Basile Verhulst
It started with an inner voice desiring to be free
For some, the 9-5 isn’t enough, and the need to break away from the typical path of career – marriage – kids – retire prevails.
Typically, this results in a new career direction, a new place to live, or a change in lifestyle. For some, escape and release comes though the bike, and the places that it can take you, both physically and mentally. And one of the finest examples of this comes in the shape of Basile Verhulst, and his desire to not wait for life to come to him.
Having completed a degree in Robotics and entered the world of work, Basile started to think that there’s more to life. ‘It started with an inner voice desiring to be free, to break loose, to pursue something bigger’, he explains. Like many of us, he initially cast these ideas of escape aside as unreasonable and for other people. However, videos he’d seen of people crossing Russia by bike, and tales he’d heard from a friend who had recently cycled from Bangkok to Paris loomed large in his mind. Ideas of doing something similar for himself, something crazy and life-affirming, burrowed deep into his head and didn’t leave, to the point where he could no longer ignore them.
Plans were laid, equipment was purchased, and before he knew it, he was leaving home. And he wasn’t flying off to some typical gap-year destination for a year of parties; he was on his trusty Surly touring bike, laden with gear to cover all weathers, situations and environments – including a PRO BIKE TOOL Mini Bike Pump.
Basile was riding out of his Parisian home, and heading for Shanghai.
Although Basile’s end point and general route is set, the day to day roads are not. He doesn’t pre-plan places to stay or things to do; instead, he points his bike in the general direction he needs to go, and heads off, covering around 80km a day. This free-form and fluid approach means that Basile is ever-surprised and amazed by what he sees. He told me that some of his most incredible experiences yet have been seeing volcanoes spitting mud and methane in Azerbaijan, and an enormous subterranean cistern used by the Byzantine empire in Istanbul.
touching and profound
It’s perhaps the human experiences that Basile has experienced that are the most touching and unusual for those of us in Western society however. On a daily basis, people would open their homes to Basile and provide him shelter for the night, and, in one case, someone short of beds gave him the keys to his car so that he could sleep on the back seat. Some moments have been more touching and profound than others; in Istanbul, Basile met a man wanted by the Turkish government who was smuggling himself out of Europe. Basile was privileged to share the man’s emotions on the last night he’d spend in the streets of his home country, and explains how it ‘Makes you realize the meaning of freedom’.
Basile’s ride has been saved many a time by his PRO Bike Tool Mini Bike Pump
Of course, when carrying your life on your bike, quality and lightweight equipment is key. Basile’s ride has been saved many a time by his PRO Bike Tool Mini Bike Pump, and he cites a recent example, when biking off-road in Azerbaijan and hours from civilisation, as one of the times that our kit has saved him from a seriously sticky situation. Basile states that it’s the ‘reliability and ultra-portability’ of the pump that renders it so useful to him.
no one knows what amazing experiences await him
When we spoke in late October, Basile was near the border of Iran, and was heading in the general direction of India. His path is not set, and no one knows what amazing experiences await him.
Wherever the road takes you Basile, all of us at PRO BIKE TOOL wish you the safest and most exhilarating of journeys! If you want to track Basile’s progress, head over to his website or checkout his youtube channel.