In this Meet the Cyclists interview, I talk to Heike of Pushbikegirl.com. Find out more about her journey to cycle around the world here!
Heike from Pushbikegirl
A couple of weeks ago, I added www.pushbikegirl.com, which is the travel blog of Heike Pirngruber, to the list of cycling travel blogs that I visit on a regular basis. Heike is cycling through a few of the countries that I would like to visit on my next trip, and keeps her blog in both English and in German. Like so many cycling travel blogs, it deserves to get as much exposure as possible. After swapping a couple of emails, I asked Heike Pirngruber if she would answer a few questions for my Meet the Cyclists feature, and I hope you too will visit her blog on a regular basis and spread the word.
Tell us briefly about yourself
I was born in Germany in 1972 and I grew up in a small town near Heidelberg, and since I was a child I wanted to explore the world. My biggest dream was always to go to Australia, which I fulfilled already at the age of 19.
So far I have been to 77 countries and I hope I will add a lot more to my list. But I don't want to just tick them off that list, I really would like to explore them.
Sport was always really important for me. With a sporty family background, I spent a lot of time playing handball and tennis, judo, cycling and sport climbing.
For many years I worked as a camera woman for Germany's biggest broadcast station, ZDF. My work took me to many locations and events around the world. I am also a professional photographer.
Could you tell us about your current bicycle tour?
I started my trip “Let' s go East – cycling solo from Germany to Australia” in May 2013.
I have pedalled through Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. In total 10.000km so far.
Iran will be next. Once it gets warmer I will continue through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. Then either Mongolia or Japan and Korea. South East Asia, mainly Northern Laos, Northern Vietnam and Myanmar, as well as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and finally Australia.
I have only a rough plan and no fixed return date. I guess it will take at least 2 years to cover the whole distance to Australia, but who knows what I have in mind when I finally arrive Australia. I might even continue.
What has been the highlight of the tour so far?
This is a hard question. I have had many highlights. But I guess the best moment so far was in Albania, where I was invited into a tiny yurt. I sat there with the whole family and had a “candle-light dinner” somewhere high up in the mountains. It was one of those meetings where everyone just laughed and smiled because no one knew a word of the other persons language. The food was so tasty and the people so friendly. It was just special.
What has been the worst thing about your bicycle tour so far?
The worst thing is easy to answer. I was robbed by two Turkish guys on their motorbikes in the area around Nemrut Dagi. They stopped me on the main road, attacked me with a huge knife and asked for a phone and money. Luckily I wasn't alone at that moment because I cycled for a few weeks with a Spanish cyclist.
Of all the countries you have cycled through on this tour and previous ones, which is your favourite?
My favourite country, well I guess it is Australia, because it was always Australia and it probably will forever be Australia. I love the remote areas, the possibility to have a camp fire every night. I love the wildlife, the people and the Australian way of life.
Do you have any tips for people who might be thinking about setting off on their long distance bicycle tour?
Yes, don' t pack too much. Travelling light gives you a lot more flexibility and doesn' t wear you out too early. Also don't plan your trip in too much detail. Your mind develops new ideas nearly every day. What you have planned 6 months ago, could easily no longer be relevant today.
And finally, as it is coming up to the festive season, where do you think you will be at Christmas this year?
Before you asked me this question, I did not even think about it. I spent Christmas abroad so often that it really doesn't bother me anymore where I am at Christmas. I have to cross into Iran by the 24th of December, so I will be somewhere in Iran during the festival time.