26.000 kilometers on bike
Have you ever heard of The Panam Rouleur, before?
The chances are that you probably haven’t and that’s a shame, because he’s currently in the middle of an awe inspiring adventure.
Helmut Johann Pucher is completing the trip of a lifetime.
He’s cycling the Pan American Highway, from Argentina, South America, all the way to Alaska, North America.
Now, this journey isn’t your average tea and biscuits. It’s not just the length of this journey (roughly 26,000km) that makes this one of the toughest rides out there but it’s also what you have to cross to complete it. From extreme heat, travelling across scorching, waterless deserts to freezing, damp mountain terrain, all completely unsupported, using only his cyclocross bike. Pucher, also doesn’t use panniers, no, he much prefers riding with his backpack. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking – this guy is completely off his rockers!
“I am used to riding with the backpack and I don’t get any back pain or numbness in my arms. It is, for me, the one and only way to express myself on the road and the places I go to.”
With over a third of the distance traveled in South America, you can imagine Pucher has passed through some pretty unsavory places. The vast majority of South America being beautiful, full of inspiring, life changing views, people and food! But don’t forget, some of the most dangerous places in the world are in South America and even If you’re not necessarily going directly through them, you’ve got to keep your wits about you and have some fairly solid cojones to do this trip solo.
There would definitely be some places where you would want to double D-lock your bike when popping to the shops!
Now, over a year and a half into this epic adventure, you would have thought that Pucher has been through the works a few times but this isn’t his first ultra-endurance trip. He has scoured the globe, crossing America from west to east, Asia, Mongolia and Russia all on his bike…and with the same backpack.
“There are moments that are simply magical. Mostly, it is encounters with other people and the sharing of joy and suffering. The feeling of overcoming big obstacles on its own is still going strong.”
The Pan Am Rouleur getting a “Dia de Los Muertos” face paint in Mexico.
If it wasn’t enough to cycle for days on end, after miles in the saddle, Pucher often hikes to find the perfect camping spot. Now I can’t think of anything I would dread more after a long day on the bike, than hiking up a mountain; but I’m 100% certain that it would be worth it once you’re pitched up in a dreamland and what a way to end the day!
The solidarity, the peace and not forgetting the views! It sounds truly magical.
“Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos”
You would be incredibly misinformed, if you were still under the impression that this ride would be all cookies and cream. You don’t just poodle along effortlessly, stopping every so often to eat an ice cream.
Life on the road is tough, mile upon mile, your legs become heavy, exhausted and you’re forcing every stroke of the pedal. Loneliness can hit you hard, everything seems to lose purpose and riding solo for devastating periods can become a real struggle. He found this out the hard way, when at one point, Pucher had already crossed South America, and now in the middle of The Altiplano, shivering from exhaustion and dehydration, he decided to do something different on his trip and give it that purpose that it was starting to lack.
He hung up his jersey and made a temporary home with “Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos”, an international aid organisation that cares for orphans and children in need, from nine different Latin American countries. An incredible cause and if you were going to hit pause on a trip for any reason, giving back to the community in a way like this, is a worthwhile stop off.
Fast forward a few months and Pucher is now in Oregon, way up on the East Coast of America. The distance he has traveled is truly phenomenal. What this man is doing is out of this World; a journey that some can only dream of doing, one that not only tests a person to the extreme physically but mentally, only the strong willed and determined could ever do such things.
Pucher, still has a long way to go until he reaches the finish line but we know he will be living a true adventure, one that we’re equally excited about and able to live through him, losing ourselves in his pictures and stories.
We can’t help but imagine what’s in stall for The Panam Rouleur, on the next leg of his trip.
Soon he will be entering into a much different kind of territory, not one where you have to concern yourself with plains of desert and scorching sun but vast, dense woodlands, mountain lions and bears. How could anyone be but on the edge of their seats, waiting to discover what he will encounter next.
We wish the best for The Panam Rouleur, in completing his journey and hope you follow it with us on his channels; it’s certainly not one to miss!
“They are moments you have in far-flung places you would never visit had you not been on an adventure of some kind.”
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Follow the adventure of the Pan Am Rouler
Contributing editor: Brett Smith
Photo credits: Helmut Johann Pucher
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