France natives Adeline Voinchet and Marc Locatelli are living the dream. Since setting off from their native Burgundy nearly two years ago on a tandem bicycle, Voinchet, 27, and Locatelli, 30, have completed half a world tour, traversing the entirety of Europe and Southeast Asia. On March 12, the couple arrived in Los Angeles via cruise ship to tour the U.S. and Canada.
“The bicycle is a very good way to discover the country because we are very slow and we meet a lot of people,” said Voinchet.
The couple travels light, packing a tent and all their supplies on the back of their unique tandem bicycle, which has only one gear. On March 19 they came through Malibu on their way north to Canada, staying at the Las Flores Canyon Road apartment of a man they met after touching down in Los Angeles days earlier.
“We heard a lot about the beach and [the] beautiful landscape in Malibu,” Voinchet said.
The couple’s worldwide journey is based on a shared love of travel and the urge to experience new cultures. Before they embarked on their dream trip, Locatelli, who worked in security camera manufacturing, and Voinchet, in social services, saved up money for three years.
On April 4, 2011, rubber hit pavement as the couple’s journey read like a Jason Bourne movie: Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia, China, then south to Vietnam and Thailand.
Of all the countries they have visited, some of the most important experiences came in Mongolia.
“They are very poor, but we have met so many nice people in Mongolia,” Voinchet said.
After Asia, they continued their adventure to Australia and New Zealand. They planned on flying to South America, but ended up taking a less expensive cruise that stopped in French Polynesia and Hawaii, before finally arriving in Los Angeles.
Altering their plans was nothing new. The two charted their course before they left, but ended up deciding to only travel where the temperature was relatively warm at the time.
But they have not always been able to avert unpleasant weather, encountering rain and other challenging conditions along the way. The most trying phase of the trip came in New Zealand, where hilly terrain and strong winds forced them to dismount the bike and push it along.
In times like these, what keeps them going is their mission to post pictures and videos to their website documenting their trip. They feel this helps share the experience with those less fortunate.
“We think of people who are in the hospital and cannot move,” said Voinchet.
This drive to persevere through bad weather was also fueled by their urge to meet as many different people as possible, and learn other cultures.
Among the ways they did so was by knocking on the locals’ door, sharing their plan to travel the world, and asking to pitch their tent in their lawn to camp out. For the most post, the locals have obliged, excited to meet people involved in such a unique journey.
Dinner gatherings can be difficult due to language barriers, as Voinchet and Locatelli speak only French fluently. Fortunately, they carried both a Russian and Chinese dictionary to help them communicate.
“It’s nice to be with the locals and understand some words, and some culture, too,” Voinchet says.
The French pair is currently heading north to Vancouver, before continuing to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City. After Canada, the two plan to return south to America, visiting New York, Washington, and Miami.
From Miami, they hope to dive down through Central and South America for about a year, although they did not say how they would get there. One thing is for sure: The bicycle will be involved. Their ride across the world is scheduled to end back in France in summer of 2014, but they have already gotten used to being nomadic.
“Now, it’s like a lifestyle,” Voinchet says.
To keep track of the pair’s progress, including a blog, pictures and videos, view the website chronicling their journey, www.LeTandemetLaVie.fr.