Welcome to Cycle Travel Overload, where we celebrate the spirit of adventure and the joy of exploring the world on two wheels. Today, I’m thrilled to share a special story that’s close to my heart. I recently reached out to Clotaire, a bikepacker whose passion for travel and unique lifestyle truly fascinated me. His journey, spanning continents and cultures, is not just a tale of endurance but also an exploration of self and the world around us.

Clotaire’s story is more than just an adventure; it’s a testament to the freedom and discovery that bikepacking offers. As someone deeply immersed in the world of adventure cycling, I understand the magnetic pull of the open road and the allure of uncharted paths. This conversation with Clotaire is the first of many such stories that I plan to bring to you – tales of remarkable bike travelers who redefine the boundaries of exploration and inspire us to see the world from the saddle of a bike.

So, join us as we delve into Clotaire’s extraordinary bikepacking journey, his challenges, his joys, and the lessons he’s gathered along the way. These narratives are not just travel logs; they are windows into the souls of those who dare to traverse the road less traveled. Stay tuned for more such inspiring stories here on Cycle Travel Overload, your hub for all things related to adventure cycling.

What inspired you to start this bikepacking journey across continents?

Hey! The inspiration comes from a combination of curiosity, a desire for a non-conventional lifestyle, and a disagreement with the capitalistic and materialistic society norms. I’ve always been drawn to travel as my main activity, to be what defines me. I’m intrinsically curious and slightly hyperactive, so roaming around the world feels natural. I seek to experience a broad spectrum of cultures, faces, music, and languages. The freedom and simplicity of traveling by bike align perfectly with these desires.

With over 55,000km covered in more than 5 years, what’s been the most memorable part of your adventure?

Choosing the most memorable part is tough, as the journey itself blurs into one continuous experience. However, the moments of being completely lost, both geographically and temporally, have been extraordinary. These experiences give me a unique perspective on human nature, culture, and distances. The most unforgettable parts have been the extremes – the solitude of the Australian outback, the rugged terrain of northern India, and the vastness of the Namibian desert. These remote areas, with their challenges and solitude, have left the deepest impressions.

How do you manage to maintain a plant-based diet while bikepacking through different countries and cultures?

Maintaining a plant-based diet while traveling has been one of my bigger challenges. Depending on where I am and the availability of vegan options, I often oscillate between vegan and vegetarian diets. I find that in some locations, adhering strictly to a vegan diet would mean missing out on culinary pleasures, which can be a crucial morale booster during long and monotonous stretches of cycling. My go-to snack, which is both convenient and widely available, is a peanut butter and banana wrap. It’s simple, nutritious, and cost-effective. Finding vegan-friendly restaurants often requires some internet research. For example, South Korea was particularly challenging due to the language barrier and different search platforms. However, the Warung buffets in Indonesia stand out as memorable for their delicious and affordable vegan options, particularly the tempeh dishes.

How has your love for coffee influenced your travels?

My passion for coffee has definitely influenced my budget, as I find myself indulging in more and often more expensive coffee. This love for coffee also guides part of my travel itinerary, as I make detours to visit interesting cafés and roasters, and even coffee farms in countries that produce beans. The coffee culture varies significantly across countries. In recent coffee-drinking nations like China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, specialty coffee is a growing trend. In contrast, countries in Africa and the Middle East, like Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, have a unique coffee culture that’s fascinating in terms of preparation and consumption, even if the taste isn’t always my preference.

Can you share some insights about your choice of bikes and how they’ve performed on your travels?

Initially, I traveled on a Surly LHT, which was great until I felt the need for more off-road capabilities. This led me to switch to a Bombtrack Beyond+, which offers greater versatility for diverse terrains. The Bombtrack has been incredibly comfortable, capable of handling almost any kind of path. While the Surly LHT is a legend in its own right, and I have great memories of riding it, the Bombtrack aligns more with my current needs for adventure and exploration. My current setup is minimalistic, focusing on durability and reliability. I prioritize equipment from small brands and craftsmen, which not only supports these businesses but also adds a personal touch to my journey. The absence of zippers, where possible, is a deliberate choice for durability. My cooking pan has been a game-changer, allowing me to prepare a variety of meals, from stir-fries to vegan patties. Other essentials include my coffee kit, eBook reader, and my trusty Patagonia R1 fleece.

Your passion for stories told and photographed is evident. Do you have a favorite story from your travels?

There are so many stories to choose from, but one that stands out involves crossing into Cambodia from Thailand. I found myself in scorching heat, looking for food, water, and a campsite. I stumbled upon a secluded beach within a military camp where I ended up befriending soldiers. We shared beers and stories, creating an unexpected and memorable experience. This is just one of many untold stories, as I often find myself lacking the time and space to share everything. I hope to compile these stories into something special at the end of this journey.

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a bikepacking ‘dirtbag’?

The biggest challenges for me revolve around love stories and the need to pause for work. Being on the road means forming deep connections, and it’s always difficult when paths diverge. It’s the emotional price of following my own journey. Financially, when funds run low, I need to find work, which, although enjoyable, is always a tough transition from the freedom of cycling. I never seem to tire of the bikepacking lifestyle, which makes these breaks particularly challenging. I take the other struggles that come with this lifestyle as part of the choice I’ve made. Compared to the hardships many face, my challenges are chosen, and I’m aware of this privilege.

As a nurse in training, have you used your skills during your travels? How has this profession intersected with your journey?

My nursing skills haven’t intersected professionally with my travels, as it’s challenging to work as a nurse overseas. However, my nursing background influences how I view the world, from public health systems to social issues. It’s a different lens through which I perceive the places I visit, although it’s more about a personal perspective than professional application.

You mention being ‘probably the snob of dirtbags.’ Can you delve deeper into this? What sets you apart from other bikepackers?

I suppose I straddle a line between indulgence and minimalism. I enjoy quality food and coffee and don’t hesitate to spend on good gear and premium coffee. Yet, I balance this by embracing a minimalist lifestyle in other aspects – sleeping in random places, wearing the same t-shirt for days, and avoiding unnecessary expenses like paid showers. My preferences can be selective – I only use Moleskine notebooks, have specific tastes in music, literature, and cinema, and carry a substantial coffee kit with various beans. But then, I only own one pair of underwear. It’s all about priorities!

How important has community support been for your journey?

The support from my community, though it has slowed since COVID, remains a precious aspect of my journey. Whenever I doubt myself or my sharing, there’s always someone reaching out with encouragement. Financially, even small amounts make a significant difference in what I can achieve. During a particularly tough time early in the pandemic, both friends and followers stepped up to offer crucial help. This support keeps me going and enhances my journey.

What’s next for you after this bikepacking journey? Or do you see it ending?

I’m honestly unsure. Part of me thinks about returning to France, to the mountains and my beloved city. But another, more realistic part, feels that this journey may never end. I’m too in love with this lifestyle and who I’ve become through it. My curiosity drives me to keep exploring, possibly forever. My approach might be too extreme for many, but it suits me. My advice to anyone contemplating a similar path is simple: just do it. Life is fleeting; make it a celebration and a continuous journey of discovery.

The two-tone beard seems to intrigue many. Any fun stories surrounding it?

Ah, the famous two-tone beard! It’s become more effective than social media for reconnecting with people. I’m often recognized in random places by people who’ve seen me elsewhere. It’s a cool, unexpected way of making connections.

Could you share some favorite countries and destinations visited, along with stories from those locations?

Choosing favorites is tough, but Turkey, Australia, and India stand out. In Turkey, the hospitality was exceptional, and a humorous memory involves struggling to find a bottle of wine for my 27th birthday. In Australia, the outback’s surreal beauty and solitude brought me immense happiness. India, with its stark contrasts from north to south, overwhelmed me with its populous nature and respectful people. Traveling there by bike offers a unique perspective beyond the usual backpacking experience.

After such an extensive journey, what advice would you give to someone looking to start bikepacking around the world?

Don’t get too caught up in having the fanciest gear. Opt for reliability and sturdiness. Bring along podcasts, a book, a pen, a notebook, and a camera. Be prepared for an open-minded adventure. The diversity and beauty of humanity and our planet are staggering. Dive in and embrace it all.

About The Author



Codey Orgill, a seasoned bicycle adventurer, has been exploring the world on two wheels for over 10 years. Since embarking on his initial cycling journey, Codey Orgill has traversed numerous countries, experiencing a series of epic adventures.