In July 2022, Karine Ferland Hébert, her partner, Francis Lambert, and their two children, Justin, 8, and Lexie, 5, flew to Denmark, the start of an impressive year-long adventure. Over the past few months, Magog’s family has traveled to three continents, mostly…by bicycle. Overview of his fascinating journey in five points.
Karine Ferland Hébert and Francis Lambert are travel enthusiasts. “We met on a plane 15 years ago,” said the mother, who answered questions from La Presse by videoconference live from the small town of Sabaya, Bolivia, a few weeks before the family returns home.
The birth of children did not curb this need to discover the planet. Traveling for a whole year is a project the couple had long cherished and prepared for five years. In order to ensure that they have an income during their journey, the teacher and the engineer participated in the deferred salary leave program offered by their respective employers. In terms of preparations, they also improved their tent, which serves as their shelter most nights.
Why did you choose the bicycle as a means of transport? “We chose cycling because we are both passionate about cycling. We go mountain biking, cycle touring…”, explains Karine Ferland Hébert. But beyond this passion, the great traveler is convinced that this mode of transport facilitates contact with people. Especially since their two mounts, Pino tandems, attract attention in the villages where they stop. “We fell in love with this model because it made sure our kids were safe with us on the bike. They pedal at the power they can provide and you can talk to them easily. »
Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, New Zealand, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile: the list of countries covered is impressive. How was the route determined? Children and parents have chosen a place they would like to discover. If Justin wanted to go to Denmark to visit Legoland, Lexie wanted to see the Amazon jungle and its animals. The adults, on the other hand, longed to pedal through the mountains and salt deserts of South America.
“We built our route based on the level of difficulty. We wanted it to grow, both physically and logistically. We wanted to follow the seasons too. A few “chip hops” in planes, trains, vans and even helicopters have also been planned.
The distance covered each day on the tandems varies from 30 to 80 km. “It depends a lot on the refueling points, the wind, the elevation, the condition of the tracks”, lists Karine Ferland Hébert. She estimates that by the end of their trip, which will end in La Paz, Bolivia on July 20, they will have cycled nearly 9,000 km. All this while keeping a pleasant pace for the children, who continue school thanks to the lessons given by their mother. Along the way, impromptu stops are welcome, whether to play in a park in Europe or to watch a dung beetle cross the road in South America. Rest days are also on the schedule. “Our trip is an adult’s dream within reach of children,” sums up the mother.
As their return to Quebec approaches, Karine Ferland Hébert begins to take stock of their adventure. Among the gains, she notes that this trip allowed the family members to improve their ability to adapt, to develop their sense of mutual aid as well as their creativity. “We see the beauty, diversity and richness of the planet’s ecosystems,” she says. And what about the challenges? “In South America, it’s logistics. Or sleep ? What to eat ? The cold and the altitude too, she adds. Being always with the same people sometimes causes friction. However, the positive certainly outweighs the negative since the parents are already thinking about the next trip. For those who would like to imitate them, Karine Ferland Hébert has some advice: “Dare! »