Pedaling the Planet: A Story from Kapp to Cape

Reza Pakravan - Header by Christine Fonner | November 6, 2014

Reza Pakravan finished the Kapp to Cape cycling adventure in November 2013. Currently working on a book to tell the adventure, I caught up with Reza to ask him about what it is like to ride the length of the planet. Literally.

With his partner, Steven Pawley, Reza cycled over 11,000 miles in 102 days to raise money for schools in Madagascar and attempt to set a new Guinness World Record. Fighting Malaria, food poisoning and intense road conditions, they made it to the finish line in Cape Town, South Africa.

You finished Kapp to Cape about a year ago. Did you initially encounter culture shock on your return?

My partner, Steven, went back to work straight away. I wanted to make the adventure part of my life and make a living out of adventure. For him, it was very difficult but for me, I took a couple of months off. I had time in California to finalize my book and was also looking for a production company to partner with me to turn Kapp to Cape into a documentary. Since August, I have been in Rome and production on the film will be finished in two weeks. 

Was it difficult managing the filming for a cycling adventure that you were deep into?

We had a cameraman at the beginning, middle, and end of the race. All the rest of the footage was self-shot between Steven and myself. It is not the easiest thing in the world when you are passing through some of the most unforgiving climates and roads in the world.

I realized the most challenging part after the expedition was coming back to normal life.

The terrain could be difficult and the environment desolate during the Kapp to Cape journey.

We struggled with time and food, basic requirements and add filming in was quite a difficult task to do. Steven wasn’t into the idea of filming but I really wanted a documentary. Sometimes you really want to be in that moment and you are in the middle of Africa and you experience something fascinating and you come out of an experience of life and death or see the hospitality of a stranger and you want to live that moment but you have to take the camera out and film.

Being in the moment (and capturing it!) riding through the countryside.
Being in the moment (and capturing it!) riding through the countryside.

What was your biggest mental challenge in Kapp to Cape?

To keep pushing and motivating myself to pedal ahead. There were times that I got really ill and times that I got knocked down by heat stroke, food poisoning, and Malaria but to just wake up and pull yourself together and carry on that was the most difficult challenge.

The physical struggles of the trip are a different story but the personal journey…that is the toughest moment, after the expedition.

Reza in the hospital with heat stroke, food poisining and Malaria.
Reza in the hospital with heat stroke, food poisining and Malaria.

To be honest, the expedition was a journey and it’s finished but the personal journey started when the expedition finished. I realized the most challenging part after the expedition was coming back to normal life. I decided to change my life and do what I love to do. I received calls from headhunters asking me to return to the corporate world with a good salary. I didn’t know when my next paycheck was coming and I was struggling with my finances but I had to tell them no. Turning those calls down and telling them I was not interested is actually something that hits me in my personal journey every day. It is a very tough moment to get through. The physical struggles of the trip are a different story but the personal journey…that is the toughest moment, after the expedition.

Reza and Steven capturing their time in Egypt.
Reza and Steven capturing their time in Egypt.

The Kapp to Cape takes you from the tip of Norway to the tip of South Africa. What was the starkest contrast between the two points?

Temperature! Then, obviously, wealth is the second contrast. And diversity. In Norway and Finland almost everyone is basically the same. The races are limited. In South Africa, it’s a very multi-racial society.

Have you found a commonality among people in your travels?

It’s fascinating because when you travel the world at the speed of bike and you see the world in that level of detail, the needs are so basic – eating, sleeping, water food – you are actually looking for similarities – you do not look for differences. Even if you want to go as fast as you can, you are still going so slow!

My dreams since I was a kid were inspired by explorers and adventurers who went way beyond their boundaries and achieved and made the impossible possible. 

All you see are similarities, not differences. You see the hospitality of people everywhere. You see that most of the people in the world are the same. We may speak different languages, but pretty much we are made from the same wood.

Meeting the locals!
Meeting the locals!

Has it been difficult for you to find the words to tell your story?

It took a while for me to reflect. We had some really extreme experiences. I also asked Steven and he had the same feeling. I look at adventure as my job. When you are making a living out of telling your story, then you have to do it with some sacrifice. You can’t have everything. The whole thing about adventure is that if you want to make a living out of it, you have to be able to share it with other people. I miss that good old fashion adventure. No phone, no nothing…you just go with it.

Riding through 13 countries isn't for the faint of heart.
Riding through 13 countries isn’t for the faint of heart.

You were an international pro basketball player back in Iran in your younger days. Did you get the chance to play ball with any of the kids during your journey?

Not really. We were just cycling non-stop. It was a race!

During the Kapp to Cape, you worked to raise money to build schools in Madagascar. Why did you choose schools in Africa?

In 2009, I went to Africa to do volunteer work with an NGO in Madagascar, which is one of the most impoverished places in the world. I carefully studied the financials of this grassroots NGO and went and worked as a volunteer for a month. This was a real trigger point for me.

If every person takes one step towards their own bit, collectively we could make this a better place.

What I experienced and what I saw people doing out there was fascinating and good. For all the good things I had in my life, I was able to give something back. Since then, I decided to raise money for them. In five years we have raised $120,000 dollars for them.

Reza getting to know the local children!
Reza getting to know the local children!

It was also important to feel the energy of people behind you. If you are doing something at that scale, why not raise money for a good cause? I combined my expedition with fundraising and it was a win-win situation for everyone and inspiring for others to do the same.

Have these adventures and endeavors for fundraising made you think about wealth, poverty, and income differently?

Not so much this trip but my previously travels did make me think a lot. I traveled in Africa a lot so I knew that there is poverty that exists in the world. It wasn’t anything new to me. In fact, I have been to fairly removed places in the world even poorer than the places I traveled this time. It’s fascinating that it’s such a cliché but the poorer the country the more hospitality they have. They invite you into their places and share more experiences with you.

What would you say would help bring the biggest positive change to our world collectively?

We all have and want different changes. The guys living in Gaza Strip need a different change than people like you and me living in democracy or someone living in Africa in poverty. The requirements are different. If every person takes one step towards their own bit, collectively we could make this a better place.

Reza and Steven enjoy local cuisine and a few moments off the bike.
Reza and Steven enjoy local cuisine and a few moments off the bike.

Environment, political, human rights or activists or whatever they do there are lots of people out there campaigning and standing up for other peoples’ rights to make the world a better place.

If you really want to get out of your comfort zone and experience what you want to experience you have to draw the line and do it.

A lot of people just succumb to the daily world and are completely detached. If we all did something we could all move mountains and make it a much better place.

What do you want people to gain from your story?

I have been a financial analyst for 10 years of my life. My dreams since I was a kid were inspired by explorers and adventurers who went way beyond their boundaries and achieved and made the impossible possible. I wanted to have a big adventure of my own. The comforts of my life stifled that dream. Basically, comfort killed ambition.

Get out of your comfort zone and amongst the challenges, you'll have amazing experiences.
Get out of your comfort zone and amongst the challenges, you’ll have amazing experiences.

One day you look back and realize you will never ever get any younger. If you really want to get out of your comfort zone and experience what you want to experience you have to draw the line and do it. I resigned from my job and started training to travel via bicycle.

One of the tougher moments...
One of the tougher moments…

I feel that I can do whatever I put my mind to now. That is what I really wanted to get out of it and I got there. Now, I changed my life completely. My documentary is going to come out shortly and I am already signed for making a new one. I am very happy with my choice.

If you are really passionate about something, sooner or later you will be good at it.

It was quite a big risk to come out of the comfort zone and leave my hefty salary to hit the road. Coming out of my safety net where everything was safe in my life, I left everything to go to the unknown. Fortunately, everything turned to be good!

The finish line in Cape Town, South Africa. There are no words to describe the feat…the smiles do a great job!

Do you think this was a required way to go – to just up and quit corporate?

The reason I did such an extreme thing – working corporate I lost confidence to be able to change my life. I needed to do something so big and way beyond me. I needed to know that I had to work so hard for it with 100% effort. I needed the validation for my ability and to go to that extreme to say, “If I really get to Cape Town I can do anything in my life.”

If I learned one thing in the entire expedition it was that in order to achieve any dream or make any dream come true, the most important thing is to take that first step.

Once I got there I just realized I managed to go from office desk to this level and battle through the most horrible terrain in the world with all sorts of weather conditions, malaria, heat stroke, whatever obstacle came in front of me…I could do anything. I can change my life. I needed validation to my ability and I got that validation. There is always the element of self-doubt but I think that is part of an adult’s life.

Why do people do what makes them safe vs. what they desire?

There is a struggle that every human in modern times faces. I have been in an environment where everyone hates what he or she does but they do it because it gives them a comfortable life. I can talk about my personal experience. When I came out of university I had student debt, I wanted comfort, and to pay back debt and have comfortable life. That is the way that society is structured. If you are really passionate about something, sooner or later you will be good at it.

Passion for something allows you to eventually become good at it.
Passion for something allows you to eventually become good at it.

If you want certain things in your life, rather than make a five-year plan, you might make a ten-year plan instead but at least you are doing what you want to do. I think the financial thing, absorbing corporate life; they pay you lots of money. It’s easy to get into it and get comfortable so that makes it very difficult to get out of it.

Is it possible to merge comfort with adventure living?

Yes, there are ways that people can combine their passion with a bit of commercial giveaway. What I did was drastic but there is always a possibility. I personally couldn’t do it because I wanted to do something completely different but I know people that have corporate lives but follow their passion at the same time. Obviously, it’s not as good as someone who is living the life they want all the time. It’s always a compromise, isn’t it?

People have different priorities – family vs. a single guy like myself. It really depends on the situation. My life allows me to be an adventurer but I am not sure a guy with three children couldn’t take the same risk so easily. If I learned one thing in the entire expedition it was that in order to achieve any dream or make any dream come true, the most important thing is to take that first step. Sometimes you have to ignore conventional wisdom and just go with it. There are so many different ways to live your life. The easiest thing is to give way to the corporate.

Only 1,045 kilometers to the finish!
Only 1,045 kilometers to the finish!

What’s your next adventure?

Adventures are addictive. I have three adventures planned that I am working on parallel. I want to cycle the Trans-Amazonian Highway. I am working on a documentary of a trip from Mumbai to London via solar panel rickshaw. Another project is focusing on my discovery of Malagasy music. I will be traveling in Madascar with a human powered mobile recording studio to capture the music. I would like to do all three in 2015 but at least two…definitely.

TP Question: Crumple or fold?

I fold. I normally take my toilet paper with me while biking. I usually use wet wipes which are obviously crumpled and I don’t fold it. I don’t use a toilet roll. I use the pocket tissue. I fold and put them away. It really depends on the situation. I never thought of that but yea, I definitely fold!


profile miniReza is an ex-corporate financial analyst that took the big plunge into full-time cyclist and extreme sport junkie. Reza has poured his energy into scheming big dreams into reality. He has conquered the summit of Mount Sabalan (4,811m), cycled the entire Annapurna Circuit in the Nepalese Himalayas and set the world record for fastest crossing of the Sahara Desert by bicycle, clocking an impressive time of 13.5 days. Adding Kapp to Cape to his impressive portfolio, he is already on to the next adventure. Oh, and did we mention he used to be a professional international basketball player??

To learn more about Reza, visit

Can’t get enough of the story? Visit Reza and Steven’s YouTube channel.

Would you like to donate to building schools? Click here to donate now!

Gates Carbon Drive did an awesome interview on the entire Kapp to Cape adventure. Read it here!

Copyright 2015 Roam Life, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Isabel Suppe: Climbing Past the Impossible

Amazing Women - Isabel Suppe

by Christine Perigen | March 20, 2013

Isabel Suppé is no dweller. She doesn’t dwell on the negative. She doesn’t dwell on the past. And she sure doesn’t dwell in one place too long. Optimistic, reflective, and full of hilarious stories, it’s no wonder Isabel has picked up motivational speaking. She can turn the most terrifying, difficult, and impossible situations into a comical and refreshing opportunity. If you don’t feel like getting off your ass and doing something amazing after hearing even one of Isabel’s “Oh, this is my average day” stories, I don’t know what else will.

While climbing in July 2010, Isabel fell 1,100 feet off Ala Izquierda del Condoriri´s southeast face in the Bolivian Andes. After spending the next two days crawling over the ice with a severely exposed fracture at 16,000 feet above sea level, Isabel was finally rescued. Soon after, she was told that she would never climb again. Three weeks later, she was climbing up a rock wall in a cast.

Isabel's fall is highlighted in red. 1,100 feet
Isabel’s fall is highlighted in red. 1,100 feet

Isabel, when I first read your story, I thought, “Holy shit.” I was blown away by how resilient you are.

The fall while climbing was actually the easy part. Everyone hears the story and thinks, “Wow, so brave.” And, of course, I was really lucky because I could have just broken my neck and been done. I have to say, if you take such a fall and are lying on a glacier and you only have two options: either die or fight for your life, of course you do what you can to fight for your life. It starts getting hard when you are lying in a comfortable hospital bed. If you lay back and say, “Well, I’m not going to go to the gym because it’s hard to get there and I have to hold crutches and everyone stares at me;” that’s when it starts getting harder.

Isabel in the hospital and practicing her climbing hold

Why go back to climbing so quickly and against doctor’s orders? 

In a way it was my anchor to life and to sanity. It was also a way of making the universe more graspable and understandable. I took such a fall and then was rescued and everything had suddenly changed. I was always used to having a tremendously healthy and well-trained body. To not be able to walk all of a sudden is a very severe change. If you can at least keep on doing things that are really important to you, for instance climbing, it helps you not to lose your mind.

Isabel climbing a rock wall with a leg cast.
Isabel climbing a rock wall with a leg cast.

How did you motivate yourself to begin again?

It wasn’t a choice. I have always felt that climbing is my identity. If I stopped climbing then I wouldn’t be myself anymore. If you lose your identity, then it’s almost as if you have died.

The summit of Illampu, Bolivia
The summit of Illampu, Bolivia

Your climbing partner’s injuries resulted in death. Just saying that is difficult.

There has always been a sense that the best tribute to a friend who didn’t make it off the mountain is to keep on climbing.  I don’t want to dwell on his death. In the past, I lost a friend who took a 2,000-foot fall. That was very horrible and it was the first time I had any contact with anything serious happening on a mountain. I was very devastated. I started to get better when I went back to the mountain. I knew that I needed to do that this time, too. I had to spend several days and nights fighting for my life and I also had to deal with serious physical injury myself. Having to fight so much for your life, somehow you also start dealing with the other person’s death. Even today, it still does not seem real.

Isabel climbing in Brazil
Isabel climbing in Brazil

Back on rock, did you feel that you were risking it all to climb?

There is a story my first grade teacher told us. Two little worms were living under the earth and they knew that if they went outside to enjoy the sunshine it would be dangerous. One went and enjoyed the sun and got eaten by a bird and the other stayed underground. I always thought it would be better to go out and enjoy the sunshine than die underground.

Where does this spunk come from?

Spunk? What is spunk? I do not know this word. [insert short explanation]. Oh, I was just born that way. My grandfather taught me to climb but he was a different type of adventurer. My grandfather had two passionate loves. One was mountains and the other was my grandmother. When Germany was defeated, he was stationed near the Black Sea, near the front lines. He got the note that the German army was defeated. He thought, “Great! I can finally go home.” He left immediately and walked all the way from the Black Sea back to Germany [approximately 1,500 kilometres]. That was in 1945. No Gortex, no high end gear. He had to be careful so he was not caught. He had no food and had to hide in the woods so he would not become a Prisoner of War. I asked him, “How did you survive?” His response was, “Well, I wanted to see my rocks again!”

Isabel and her grandfather in 1980.
Isabel and her grandfather in 1980.

Over the years, he kept on climbing and was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease. They gave him one year of life. He kept on climbing and stayed alive for more than 25 years. The day he couldn’t put on his harness anymore is when he shut down and just died.

I say the germ for climbing I got from him and grandmother but really my life changed after I moved to Argentina. I had never even conceived it would be possible to go to the mountains without my grandparents. Living in Buenos Aires, I had extra vacation time and I had been saving money to buy a fridge. I didn’t have one in my apartment. Fall was coming so I decided I could just put my food on my balcony and use my money to go on a trip. So I bought a flight to Patagonia. I didn’t even have proper gear.

I went trekking around El Chaltén. It was fall so I was the only person around. It was snowing and really cold. I had on corduroy pants and had nothing that would be used for mountaineering but I thought, “Hey, this is what I want to do.” And I just kept doing it. And this is how it all started.

Your grandfather, Walter Lenk, was famous in East Germany’s climbing world.

He was a locally famous climber. He definitely was not world-renowned. I was six years old when my grandparents took me rock climbing for the first time. I was going on easy treks ever since I was born. My parents and grandparents took me on picnics before I could walk. They took me to rocks in Southern Germany and then after the Berlin wall fell they took me to Eastern Germany. My grandparents are from Eastern Germany but they fled when the Russians built the Berlin Wall. When I was 11, they took me back there.

Isabel's grandfather leading a climb in 1947.
1947: Isabel’s grandfather leading a climb

When I was 19, I graduated from high school in Germany and moved to New Jersey on a scholarship for my undergraduate studies and finished in two and a half years. When I was about to finish, Bush was elected president and I said, “Okay, that’s it! I am leaving this country!” I wanted to see more of the world. I had taught myself Spanish so I thought, “Where shall I go for graduate studies?” I had been to Spain so I wanted to see something else. I saw the name Argentina and all I knew was that the capital was named Buenos Aires, it was in South America and there were some writers I liked from there. That’s how I got to Buenos Aires. I started to do longer expeditions after I moved to Argentina.

Living in Buenos Aires, you are surrounded by millions of people and are not close to mountains. Are you a city person at heart?

Living in Mahwah, New Jersey, I was going into the city every Saturday and to the art museums all the time but the problem was there were no mountains. Mountains are perfect if you are only into outdoors stuff.  The city is perfect if you are only into culture and having a cultural life. But if you need to have some of both worlds then your life is complicated. I was about to sign up to do a PhD in Argentina and in the end I wrote the research project and everything. To be honest, my life is not supposed to be trapped in the library. I need to learn and have contact to cultured people but I need the mountains. I knew I wouldn’t dedicate myself to research the way I would need to. I moved to Mendoza and survived by translating menus for restaurants and doing mountain guiding. Living in Mendoza, I always missed something. It was contact to culture and to people who can talk about artists like Van Gogh. I still haven’t found the perfect place but I do miss Argentina a lot.

Where do you consider home?

Nowadays, since I have had to be away from Argentina because of medical conditions, I have been traveling and living in my tent. Right now, I am visiting my dad in Munich (he doesn’t make me stay in a tent here!) but my permanent address is my tent.

A makeshift "tent" during a sand storm in the desert (USA)
A makeshift “tent” during a sand storm in the desert (USA)

 When doctors told you that you would never climb again, did you think, “Heck yes, I will!”

I actually did not believe it for one second. I just couldn’t. When I was on the glacier, it took me more than 12 hours to realize I was losing a lot of blood. I kept thinking it looked like a lot but it couldn’t be that bad because I would be dead by now. I had to be careful and wanted to avoid frostbite so I didn’t take my shoe off. I accepted the loss of blood. I needed my foot. I didn’t get frostbite at all. Nowadays, I know even if I had lost my foot, I would still go climbing. I don’t know how the surgeries are going to turn out but I know that if I can’t climb the way I want, then amputating might be an option because it is true that sometimes you can be better off amputating a limb and using a prosthetic than keeping a limb. I have a friend who had to make this decision. He said, “Well, better to be an amputee than a cripple,” and chopped off his foot. He goes rock climbing and ice climbing. I am not saying that’s an easy decision. I’d much rather not have to make that decision but I know should I have to, I will take it.

East face of Vallecitos. Photo Máximo Kausch (2009)
East face of Vallecitos. Photo Máximo Kausch (2009)

How many surgeries have you had since your fall in 2010?

 After the accident, I spent six months unable to walk. Then I learned how to walk. Then they had to operate again. That was a one-month recovery. Then I walked again. After that, I had three more surgeries in Spain. January 25th was surgery fourteen. This surgery will have a three month recovery and then I have to learn how to walk again. That also takes time.

Isabel making the best out of a hospital stay. Photo by Ian Grant
Isabel making the best out of a hospital stay. Photo by Ian Grant

As the first woman to solo climb Nevado the Cachi, you became one of the “firsts.” Is this important to you as a woman?

Actually, no. It was important to me not because I was the first woman. Not because it was solo. That climb wasn’t technically difficult. It was just high and isolated. Climbing Nevado the Cachi was important to me because I was standing up there on my two feet and on my crutches after the doctor told me I wasn’t going to be able to go back to the mountain, especially at high altitude. That was the important thing. If you look at the important climbs, this was a very easy mountain. It’s true that it is very isolated so if anything happens, forget about it. No one will find you for a long time after you are dead. It takes several days of walking to return to civilization. The wind is very, very extreme and temperatures are extreme but it is not a vertical climb. I guess no woman has ever done it on her own because of fear or the loneliness. It requires a lot of exposure.

One of your best known climbs is the new route you created on your birthday, after the accident.

I felt that it was much more important to open the new route in Bolivia with Robert on the anniversary of the accident. It was included in the American Alpine Journal as one of the world’s greatest climbs. That was one of my greatest accomplishments. After a year of hospital and rehab, I hadn’t meant to do anything that difficult. I wanted to do something but not the classic climbs because I had done almost all of them and they are too crowded. He said, “Oh yea! I know what we can do. I have not been to this climb. Let’s go there!” He is a really crazy guy. He knew what I was getting into. He had climbed on crutches before, too. I am sure he thought, “She climbs on crutches. I like that, so I will take her.” What I liked about him is that he is the only one mad enough to trust a climbing partner on crutches.

Isabel and Robert called their line "The Birthday of The Broken Leg" (TD+/ED), which climbs 500 meters up the southwest face of Serkhe Khollu in Bolivia. Photo by Isabel Suppe´
Isabel and Robert at the summit of Serkhe Khollu, Bolivia on their line “The Birthday of The Broken Leg.” Photo by Isabel Suppe´

 Do you see yourself as a “female climber” or a climber?

Just as a climber. I don’t think it’s necessary to separate that out. If you really want to change something or feel that more women should be represented, it’s better to set an example than it is to blame. In most athletic disciplines, women compete among women because, of course, there are biological differences. We have different bodies and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that but for everything else – there are parts of the world where it is still important for women to fight for their rights but in the United States or Europe it is less the case. I’m, of course, against patriarchy, but I don’t want a matriarchy either.

When I was about to get into my PhD program, my director wanted me to get into gender studies and I said no way. It’s not my cup of tea. Cycling across the US, I thought about this a lot. It’s really true that it’s all linked – human rights. It’s not women’s rights. It’s human rights. Mental issues, gay rights, environmental issues – those things are linked because whenever there are rights that are abused, everyone suffers.

Isabel and Rocinante on the George Washington Bridge, NYC
Isabel and Rocinante on the George Washington Bridge, NYC

What do you have to say to those people who are just dreamin’ to quit it all and go?

Dream. Ask yourself what do you want and how do you go about making that dream come true? What is really important? Sometimes, if you take a close look, it’s not really all that important to worry about a broken dishwasher. Sometimes, if you look at it closely, you can live pretty well without a dishwasher. You can say, “Screw the dishwasher! I can hand wash my plate for a while or buy a new one but this weekend I want to have a good time.” You can go anywhere.

 Tell us about Rocinante.

Rocinante, the bicycle
Rocinante, the bicycle

Rocinante is the name I gave my bicycle. [Rocinante was Don Quijote’s horse] It is actually my German grandmother´s old bicycle. I was at the German-Swiss border to Spain. I needed to get to Spain and thought the air flight was expensive. The doctor said I should cycle a lot to help in rehabilitating so I thought I could just cycle there. It is just tremendously depressing after you have been through so many surgeries to be told that you have a non-reversible condition and it can only get worse. So, you need to do something positive. I thought, “Hey, I am going to cycle there and try a new method of treatment.”

After Spain, I needed to get to an airport with a really cheap flight back to Germany. On my way, I found a sign that said ferry to Africa. I thought that was really cool and thought it would be great to cycle there. I called my brother and they had cheap flights to the southern tip of Spain. I asked my brother if he would like cycling through Morocco together. We started in Morocco and then cycled from Marrakesh to the Sahara Desert. After I finished that, we returned to Germany and I went to Spain to present my book and then left for the US and finally cycled across the US. On September 29, 2012, I finished.

What was it like riding across the US and coming across other cyclists?

Isabel with Rocinante in Colorado
Isabel with Rocinante in Colorado

I really didn’t meet any cyclists. I met this one guy who had no weight on his bike and his wife was driving behind him handing him soft drinks and booking his hotels for him. I thought that was funny. I cycled across Nevada on a really lonely road. I went through Tonopah and took the Extraterrestrial (ET) Highway and ended up in St. George, Utah. Then, I did a presentation in Boulder, Colorado and went through Nebraska and traveled as far north as Niagara Falls and then headed towards New York City.

US Cycling Tour - Photo by Chris Anthony
US Cycling Tour – Photo by Chris Anthony

I was traveling and doing these presentations. In Nebraska, I found myself speaking to local farmers in a barn. I had to give the speech in my cycling outfit because my clothes had been shipped ahead and I was just passing through. I spent two hours answering questions. Along the way, I spent some nights camping in a ditch or a bathroom and other nights in a millionaire’s mansion. Everything is relative.

In Boulder, I had met a climbing partner and he said he would climb in Devil’s Lake but I would have to skip some of the Midwest because of climbing. I said, “Okay! Let’s go for climbing!” I crossed all of Michigan and Ontario and re-entered the US at Niagara Falls and then dropped into New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. I finished the ride in front of Van Gogh’s, Starry Night at the MoMa. [Starry Night is the name of Isabel’s book about her climbing accident and recovery]

Isabel in front of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh at NYC MoMA
Isabel in front of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh at NYC MoMA

Why travel around the world? Why visit all of those places?

 I haven’t traveled around the world. I’ve just traveled a lot. To me, it is about living the way you want to live. It’s sometimes good that more people are not like me because no one would work in the office or …well you wouldn’t be able to visit your friends anymore. They would all be traveling and you would have nowhere to stay! I love that I’m a nomad and I always know where to find my friends. It’s so hard to get left behind.

Isabel on ice
Isabel on ice

TP: Crumple or Fold?

I have never stopped to think about it. It seems too trivial! I bet I am not an orderly person. I bet I would crumple it.

isabel suppe profile pictureIsabel Suppé is a high-altitude climber, writer, and motivational speaker. Her book, Starry Night, is being released in English in April 2013. She is a true survivor and nomad who follows her love of climbing all over the world.


For more information on Isabel and her adventurous life, visit her website.

Isabel will begin her US TOUR in June, 2013. Stay tuned for notifications on events in your area. 

To read the full story, order a copy of Isabel’s book, Starry Night. Click the Buy Now below.

$16.50 + shippingBook Cover - Starry Night“A daring reimagination of the typical disaster narrative, Starry Night portrays a world in which pain and unsettling beauty become inextricably intertwined.” – Katie Ives, Editor of Alpinist Magazine

Shipping Date: May 8, 2013

ChicoBag Sling rePETe Tourmaline

by Christine Perigen

The Roam Life Team recently went on a cycling adventure in Taiwan. While searching for rental bicycles, the ChicoBag Sling rePETe Tourmaline came in really handy.

ChicoBag Sling rePETe Tourmaline (Photo: ChicoBag)
ChicoBag Sling rePETe Tourmaline (Photo: ChicoBag)

I am a very light packer. I never carry a purse or wallet or bag or…well anything but my passport and credit card while traveling. I threw this little satchel into my backpack last minute thinking it might come in handy. Boy, was I RIGHT!  The ChicoBag Sling rePETe Tourmaline is perfect for adventure traveling. We threw two sets of pedals, two helmets, two cell phones, and a water bottle in the bag and it sat comfortably against my side as we hiked the streets of Taichung.

The bag is light. Given the materials it is made out of, it is also surprisingly durable. The bag is 99% recycled PET (Polyethylene terephthalate, aka, plastic bottles) and the carabiner is 97% recycled aluminum. This bag became an extension of me for the rest of the trip. When it wasn’t in use, I scrunched it back up into it’s travel bag and when I needed to go out on the town, I whipped it out and had it over my shoulder in no time.

The sling - bundled up in it's built in pocket
The sling – bundled up in it’s built in pocket

For a self-proclaimed “Bagless Chick,” the Sling rePETe was just too practical to say no to.

Brand: ChicoBag

Price: $14.99

And color coordinated to boot!
And color coordinated to boot!


From PITT to DC – Press Release



October 5, 2012

Contact: Christine Perigen                       

Tel: 914.584.8760

Alt. Tel: 707.815.2178




A Non-Stop, 325 Mile Off-Road Ride

Josh Fonner and Rich O’Neill take on the entirety of the Great Allegheny Passage and will continue on to the C&O Canal Trail to ride 325 off-road miles from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, D.C. in a non-stop attempt to reach Arlington National Cemetery. Rich’s father, a war veteran and best friend to Rich, passed away and rests at Arlington National Cemetery. Rich’s dad always taught him to live his life to the fullest. Rich is going to do just that and end this challenge with a personal thank you straight to his dad at his gravesite.


In trying to decide on a trip to pay homage to the amazing and adventurous spirit of Rich’s dad while working within the time constraints of having full time jobs, Josh and Rich decided on a route that Josh has never put tire down on: the Allegheny trail system. As an avid cyclist, he felt this was an absolute travesty to never have ridden these historical trails which are some of the most ridden in the country. This sealed the deal on the how and when of the trip.


The founders of Roam Life are continuing to develop a community of adventurers around the world, starting with people they meet along their adventurous paths. Highlighting the stories of strangers and encouraging action, they work to support individuals in meeting life goals…through adventure. Roam Life is an exciting and inspiring bunch of every day people looking to roam while helping you to do the same.


Set to pedal off on Saturday, October 13th and arrive at Arlington National Cemetery late Sunday, October 14th, Rich and Josh are sure to encounter absolute adventure. Filming of the expedition will be done in partnership with GeoCore Films who will also be experiencing the adventure as these two travel through wilderness, small American towns, and the unknown.


Sponsors: Stan’s NoTubes, Giant Bicycles, POC

For more on the adventure or to learn how you can support the launch, contact Christine at Roam Life: tele.914.584.8760 / email.