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The eight-year bicycle trip around the worldHow a European couple fell in love with Japan

October 17, 2011  Satomi Iwasawa

This is the English translation of the article which appeared on JBpress on October 6.

A Swiss-Italian couple, Verena and Luciano Lepre, spent eight years traveling to 42 countries around the world on their bicycles. For these two complete beginner cyclists to take a long-distance bicycle trip is a great accomplishment, especially considering that they took their trip around the world. They also spent over a year in Japan, traveling across the country all the way from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

While they mainly slept outdoors when traveling around the world, they were often invited to stay in ordinary homes, allowing them to experience real down-to-earth interchanges with local people, especially when in Japan.

Looking back the eight year trip, "It was a miracle."

Husband and wife Luciano and Verena Lepre, spent eight years traveling around the world on their bicycles (photo by author).

Husband and wife Luciano and Verena Lepre live near the famous ancient Chillon Castle in the western part of Switzerland.

From 1996 to 2004, the couple spent eight years traveling around the world on their bicycles. They went from Switzerland to the Middle East, and then entered Asia and made their way to Australia. After that, they traveled around North and South America before making their way back to Europe.

Before their trip, Verena worked in sales in pharmaceuticals, while Luciano was engaged in the sales of household electronics and mobile phones. They were both very involved in their jobs, with full work schedules throughout the entire year.

When they were just about to enter their forties, they started thinking "We've worked enough. Let's quit our jobs and do something interesting." One day, they decided to go visit a friend they had wanted to see in Nepal by bicycle.

As one of Luciano's hobbies was photography, he also wanted to have time to take all the pictures he wanted.

At that time, they were still beginner cyclists. They didn't own bicycles, nor did they normally rent or ride bicycles.

This is right after they started their trip in 1996. Their bicycles were loaded with a tent, a portable stove, and cooking equipment (all of the pictures from here and below were provided by Verena and Luciano Lepre).

Although it might seem a bit reckless of them to suddenly take off on a bicycle trip, because they both had already visited many countries on normal sightseeing trips they felt the same kind of trip would be boring.

Rather than using hotels and taking meals like in a normal trip, with bicycles just as their means of transport, they decided on backpacking.

When they started off on their trip to Nepal, Verena starting feeling pain in her back and Luciano experienced pain in his knee. However, during their trip they learned how to make adjustment in the height of handlebars and the saddle to make riding more comfortable. They rode for an average of four to six hours a day.

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