The Story








    76 days

off road



Grey - the colour of a cloud-covered sky

I had been awaiting this trip for a long time, dreaming of vast steps, high mountains, and stories full of colours and adventure.   Then, the start of our journey was very different than planned. During our visit in Belgium, I was diagnosed with pre-cancer. It was a shock, for all of us...us, like Frank and me, but also family and friends, and people on the trail Frank had been in contact with. Our decision was to return home to Vancouver instead of commencing our trip in Bishkek so I could undergo further testing and treatment.


I had felt there was something slightly off with me before the trip and I did not pay further attention to it. Wrong decision! Next time, I will listen to my intuition...like my friend and sister-in-law Vera would say ‘the patient always knows better’.

It was both scary and comforting that family and friends were ‘sick’ with me. Just like me, they didn’t sleep and they were worried.  Then they became caring energy and support, they were my village. Help arrived from the most unexpected sides, including admin staff who scheduled quick surgeries and health care providers who understood my distress about discrepancies in test results and the lack of certainty around the evolution of my condition in the future. Waiting for test results was difficult, made me feel dull.   Once I felt my questions had been answered as best as they could, I was able to live with the unexpected.

Healing time in Lasqueti Island

Healing time in Lasqueti Island

In short, I am now a better educated patient who understands that the colour grey is everywhere in medicine. I know that worrying for tomorrow is part of me but most of all that if the worst comes worst I have the best people around me to overcome future challenges. And now it’s time for the colour blue.

Blue Sky


Not everything is in planning



2 years of preparation, imagining the perfect route looking at maps, reading and reviewing of my 1995 diary when I biked sections of the same territory. It was another time before the internet & social networks, ….before GPS devices! Good logistics can drastically reduce bad surprises. While we do expect surprises we try to avoid bad ones.  However, bad surprises can make good stories…later.

Why are you doing this?

Curiously sceptical

Remind me....how old are you?

These questions echo from many directions. Mainly from people who do not really know us. Our close friends stopped asking - likely satisfied by our vague philosophical answers and past experiences. Or maybe they just gave up trying to understand. Some, though, do not need to be convinced and already plan to join us at some point during the journey.

We do it because we can still do it. We go far because soon, “far” could be just walking around the block. Life has its own surprises. We both have been lucky so far and age damages have been under control.

We are under control…chin up, chest out yeah!

April 4 2018. 

A one year bike project deserves Hugs and Kisses Goodbye to all our close Vancouver friends.

A stop over in our native Brussels to visit families for a couple of weeks will be a nice transition between our professional life and our future leisure life. All is good in the best world.

Icelandair takes you for less. Not really

Part of a good planification is to book flights early. That way you can expect cheaper tickets and you cannot change your mind. What has been said must and will happen.

We had only big smiles approaching the Iceland air check in counter. Until we were told that the 90’ stop over in Reykjavik on our way to Brussels means we have a 2 leg flight journey. 

Not that we asked for it, this is how they promote their intercontinental flights. Enjoy the Icelandic hospitality with a stop that could be extended from 90’ to a couple of days.



If you have been caught by numerous attractive promo’s claiming cheap flights, think twice!

New rules became applicable only a few days ago even though we bought the ticket long before “the new rules”.

A 2 leg journey requires the customer to pay his/her luggage fees twice (we have 2 backpacks of 14 kg each and our 2 bikes boxed in cardboard -flat fees). Welcome summer season. $800 later we try to put the news in perspective though we definitely feel very sorry for the families of 4 with multiple luggages…Lucky us, we have a one way trip. A deep breath and let’s move on, what else could happen? After all our 3 weeks fatbike packing trip done 2 years ago in Iceland remains one of our best experiences on bikes. Still, you lost few brownie points Iceland!

What the heck!?

Sylvia, in order to approach the “new stage of her life” in the best possible condition, was in quest of a second medical opinion. All the pertinent advice received by her trustful Vancouver GP just needed to be confirmed for her peace of mind as we are biking many months in remote and high elevation Himalayas.

A classic examination reveals some “anomalies”. The word is camouflaged behind “abnormal cells”. Right away the Icelandair scam seems so immaterial that we almost regret we did not leave a tip or some donations for the Icelandair employee Xmas party.

Belgians have a great and particular sense of humour, a touch of auto derision spiced with sarcasm. I guess we lost it. The News hit us hard. Bad scenario. Poor intro for a trip that is supposed to bring good feelings and surprises but probably a good first episode for a new Netflix original series. It is important to hit hard in the first episode to catch the viewers attention. The gynaecologist is not Icelandic, we checked, so this is not a deliberate plot against us organized by some jealous relatives.

And now what?

Episode 2


Decision taken, now that our home is Canada let’s hope Canada will fix this.

We left our bikes in their boxes in Brussels as a sign of good karma and our Eastcapades becomes a Westescape.

A diligent and thorough follow up after the first Belgian treatment, more tests, a surgery and now 2.5 months after missing our start we received the green light to resume our trip…..if we are keen to.

Are you kidding ? 

A little bump in our life? Not really, but a big learning process for sure.

Feeling smarter than before at least on some topics, serenity replacing worries, hunger exacerbating desire to enjoy every moment of our trip to come. We may need to do some adjustments to the original plan according to new climate conditions we will encounter but in term of “adjustments” we are now highly qualified.

Thank you to all of you who by one word, one attitude, one intention have helped us immensely. 

We have regained our particular/peculiar Belgian sense of humour and are ready to share it abundantly.

Flying out to Brussels on July 7….British airways…then Bishkek on July 12.

It is going to be good this time.

CanadaZenija Esmits