Why and how
- Why travelling?
Between 1999 and 2000, while he was 21 years old too, my older brother Julien decided to make a backpack trip around South America. He wanted to follow the same routes Ernesto Guevara took in 1951, while he was a medical student. Indeed, the one who became a few years later the « Che » rode on an old motorbike called « la Poderosa » (« the Vigorous ») with his friend Alberto Granado, trip which laid the ground of his political involvement.When my brother came back, I was 6 years old. And when I heard all the stories he has lived during his year off, I said to myself « I’ll do it some day too ». But until now, I had no specific idea in mind.
The first year of medical studies is very tough in France. When I succeeded the competitive examination, in May 2013, I knew that I’ll have two years with less stress than in first year. But in fourth year, « serious things » will be back for three years, in order to prepare the internation contest…
That’s when I thought again about my wish to leave. « Obviously, if I want to go somewhere, this is now or never! ». So in October 2013, I took the decision: I will take a year off between my third and my fourth year, so I could take a « deep breath » before beginning for real my medical career.
- Why the United States?
When you want leave for a whole year far from your family and friends, it is better to know where you are going to and why! Among all of the stories I’ve heard about cyclotourists, most of the time, that was stories about world tours. I personnaly prefered focus on one part of the globe, so I could learn a lot of things about this region and live for a year in total immersion.Europe was interesting, with a lot a countries and different landscapes, but I really wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been before, and in that way, the old continent was too close from home.
Africa would have been a strong human experience, especially for me, medical student, meeting some of the poorest populations of the world. But even if I want to live an adventure, security seems essential to me, and in times when Westerners are kidnapped by extremists, it wasn’t possible to travel with a serene mind. In Africa was also the expansion of Ebola virus problem.
Many young people choose Asia to spend their year off. I don’t really have an explanation for saying why my choice was not focused on this continent … I just think it doesn’t attract me at the moment, maybe later!
Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia … Who doesn’t dream of such names? However, my desire to travel by bicycle pushed me to look for larger spaces.
So this will be America!! But North or South??
As said above, my brother had visited Latin America. It wouldn’t have bothered me to follow in his footsteps, but his stories and pictures gave me the feeling I was already gone there… The purpose of the trip is also to master the local language and, speaking Spanish relatively well, I opted for an English speaking country. In addition, a very good command of English is essential today in Medicine.
Still today, the idea of an « American Dream » is global and intergenerational, and I think I want to live mine. The wide variety of American landscape has also guided my choice. A passage through Canada remains possible in the Great Lakes region; I’ll see once there, according to my desire and to the opportunities that my US VISA offers me.
- Why cycling?
Environmental issues are today more important than ever, and I really want to be part of a global mouvement in order to change people’s attitude. The purpose of this trip, in addition to the sporting challenge, is to show that it is possible to chose every day a healthy and green transportation.
I will try to cover as much distance as possible to the sheer force of my calves: in this way I will be completely autonomous. However, if the situation requires it (weather, injury, breakage, behind schedule, etc.), I will probably take public transport, which will always be less polluting than taking a personal vehicle.
- Why alone?
When you decide to travel for one year, this has a lot of consequences: you leave your family and your friends, you have to stop your studies or your job, you arrive in an unknown country as a « foreigner ». When I tell people about my project, the first reaction is most of the time: « Are you crazy? Well… that’s great… but me… I could never do that!! ». It is true that asking someone to stop everything to follow us is not easy… But if I’m crazy, I’m certainly not the only one to be on Earth, and looking good, I would certainly have found someone to go with me.
Well, the real reason is just that I want to live this adventure alone. In my opinion, this is the best way to live this experience fully, and get away from my « routine » in Marseilles. Anyway, on the way you are never alone for long, and there is no doubt that I will have to meet many people, which is, of course, a major objective of the trip.
- The objectives of the trip
This trip will be:
–a sporting challenge: 10,000 miles of roads to cycle in one year, with the only force of my claves;
–an environnemental challenge: prove that it is possible to choose daily a greener transport;
–a human challenge: meet the Americans, discover their hospitality, adopt their way of life, share my knowledge about my country and learn new things on the US, improve my English and understand how the health system works in the country.
The name of the project is « Un carabin à vélo », which means in french « A cycling medical student ». Its logo is a yellow sign with black border, such as those encountered on American roads, with in its center the map of the United States, a bike, and the « medical caduceus », symbolized by the rod of Asclepius, topped by the mirror of prudence and around which is wrapped an Aesculapian snake.