On February 3rd, Dries & I will embark on our longest cycling trip to date: from Brussels to Tokyo. Over the course of the next 10 months, we will cross around 20 countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia, South Korea and Japan.
Freedom is calling
If you ask me what’s my first thought is when it comes to cycling, I would answer immediately freedom. The freedom to go to places, be independent and feel safe. For years, my bikes (race bike, city bike & travel bike, yes, I’m an addict) have allowed me to be fit, commute to work and see the world. This freedom led me to places I’d never hope to reach otherwise.
To me, freedom also means being able to follow my curiosity whenever she’s calling. By going on this trip, we’ve also created a unique opportunity of bringing together two of my biggest interests: feminism & cycling.
Susan B Anthony wrote at the end of the 19th century that “I think [bicycling] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” A woman on a bicycle, the equal rights champion observed, presents “the picture of free and untrammeled womanhood.”
The two-wheel wonder pedaled forward the emancipation of women in the late 1800’s America & Europe and radically redefined the normative conventions of femininity. It got women outdoors and out of those heavy long skirts and corsets that society expected them to wear. It pushed cultural and gender barriers further.
Making my first documentary
Taking a year off our regular lives also means being able to develop ourselves in different ways, meaning without the social and economic pressure. To me, it means being able to develop myself on an artistic level and make my very first documentary. During the next 15 000 km, I will ask the following questions: can the bicycle be a catalyst of change for gender equality worldwide?
Do you know local initiatives, cycling activists or women passionate about cycling along the way? I’d love to meet them!
So, tinkle your bells and fasten your helmet as we’re about to embark one of kind journey!