Alaska to Argentina on a bike

22:33, Feb 02 2011
Bike
TWO WHEELS: Roland and Belinda Hinmueller from Manurewa ride through a forest in Chile as part of their epic journey.

Few people can say they've cycled 30,000km on a tandem bike with their partner – and survived.

Manurewa couple Belinda and Roland Hinmueller can. They've just finished a massive 18-month cycle challenge from Alaska to the south of South America and are now off their wheels and back on home soil.

They arrived home on January 21 with Roland sporting a long beard and Belinda dreadlocked hair.

Real life is now setting in as Roland goes back to his teaching job at Randwick Park School and Belinda decides what to do next with her nursing background.

But the memories of their cycling adventure will stay with them forever.

Their journey started at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska in July 2009 and took them down through the Americas to Ushuaia in Argentina.

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"Some parts were so crazy hot that at times we were carrying 20 litres of water and drinking that in a day between us," Belinda says.

"We got accustomed to living simply. You carry your life on your bicycle. In a day your main concerns are food, where you are going to sleep, and that you are dry and warm."

The highlight of their trek was the generosity of the people they met along the way. And a big part of their experience was volunteering for the Salvation Army.

"You forget that 99 percent of the population is just like you or me, wanting to live a normal life and do good for others," Belinda says.

"We've realised it makes a huge difference if you volunteer – however small it is."

Roland says they got to help with the various services the Salvation Army provides and their last volunteer effort in a girls' orphanage in Chile was enjoyable.

"It gives you perspective on life," he says.

And people welcomed them wherever they went – they would stop them on the street and invite them in for a meal.

"They were keen to showcase their community and help us on our way," he says.

"We would just be so happy with a roof or a potential shower to wash off some of the grime."

Roland says he's really proud of Belinda and what they've achieved together but says riding tandem for 18 months is "not the most romantic thing in the world".

And the future?

For now they're looking at getting single bikes, keeping up with their volunteer efforts and improving their Spanish.

Manukau Courier