At dawn, I unzip my tent. The fresh breeze surprises me right away. The vast wilderness of Canada is unfolding before me, an indigo lake in the heart of the boreal forest. A bald eagle soars through the air. My two daughters, Nayla and Fibie, are still snuggled up in their sleeping bags. They are four and eight years old and have been nomads since birth. They live in connection with nature and explore the Earth. For more than 11 years now, we have been cycling on the roads of the world. 82,000km by bike, 4 continents, the birth of our two daughters along the way. How did this constant plunge into the unknown became our way of life?
We choose to experiment, we choose to feel in each of our cells what it means to dive in the world, to be out there and to trust our inner guidance. We explore the breathtaking landscapes of our Earth, being fully connected with its power. And we discover diverse cultures and their unique way of conceiving and understanding the world. Our first project revealed the symbol of Infinity, two loops around the sacred mountains of the Altai and the high mystical peaks of the Himalayas. The second project took us in a spiral around the Great Northern Horizon, in the remote wilderness.
Casting Off for Adventure
The adventure we dreamt, imagined then created, turns out to be more than a journey, it has become our life. But we had to make the first step. When I first met Xavier, he was already talking about cycling to New Zealand. I fell in love with this man whose dreams have no limits and who allows himself to live them. Having been a couple for a few days, I finally decide to ask him if I could join him. “—When are we hitting the road?” Xavier answers. A year later, we are leaving Switzerland for three years to cycle to New Zealand. We are facing the last pass that will open the doors to Italy. Our bodies are tired, our muscles aching, our minds struggling. The Swiss passes propel us into the intensity of the journey, with rain and snow cutting us off from the surrounding beauty. Our minds worries about the thousands of kilometres to come, the mountain chains to climb, the deserts to cross, the cold of the winters. Three years is a long time, New Zealand the other side of the world. There is no escape, we start learning to fully live in the present moment.
Two Births Along the Way
After two years on the road, we open ourselves to the possibility of a new adventure, that of becoming a parent. I get the intuition that I am pregnant in Nepal. At an altitude of 5,500 metres, facing Everest, I tell Xavier that he is going to become a father. The power of the Himalayas is all around us. There is only the vibrant silence and the breath of the wind. Nayla is born in Malaysia and learnt to walk facing the Angkor Temples.
4 years later, Fibie joins us. Little girl of the steppes, she celebrates her first birthday in Mongolia with a bowl of aïrag, fermented mare’s milk and a khuushuur, a kind of fried dumpling filled with mutton meat. It is in a yurt that she took her first steps. The same day, Nayla cycles alone with her panniers. She cycles next to the herds of horses galloping. She spots this beautiful white stallion with a long mane flying in the wind.
How Could we Imagine Cycling across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia or the Arctic Tundra in Alaska?
We choose to listen to our inner voice and intuitions. This is how the path unfolds. As we take the first pedal stroke in the Gobi, we know deep inside we can try, not for the challenge, but to enter the power of the Desert. It is a call from the heart.
Here we are, in the heart of the Gobi, in a wild, pure, extreme beauty. The next water point is 130 km away on the map. On this land, the wind is the master. It shows the austere nature of this place. Yet, today its breath carries us through the panorama. We fly in these amazing landscapes, while Bactrian camels are walking around. We are immersed in the vastness of the land. And clouds seem to be the only marks of this expanse. The girls are happy to play in this infinite world. They are in perfect harmony with what surrounds them, with the land. The magic of the desert comes out of the invisible. And we can see they touched this invisible, even if their skin is bitten by the cold and the intensity of the sun. Nayla kept asking for months: “When are we going back to the Gobi?”
In Alaska, we cycle in the Arctic Tundra on a dirt road. There is no mobile phone reception and sporadic traffic. We are alone in this rugged wilderness. The weather conditions are extreme yet exceptional wildlife thrives here. We are on the land of grizzlies and caribou. The peaks of three mountain ranges over 4,000m rise into the sky, glacial tongues stretch along the valleys. The dimensions are phenomenal! We are exploring the remote wilderness of Alaska with our daughters. There is no word to express this life force that every day takes us a little further or the feeling of unity we have with the land.
As a Way of Life
We have learned to have a huge void in front of us, which we cannot fill with expectations and certainties. Every morning we are free to write the new page of our life. We give ourselves the right to reinvent ourselves daily. We have the opportunity to open ourselves to spontaneity, to listen to our innermost follies, to our greatest dreams, to be what vibrates deep inside us. For me, this state of being gives me a wonderful feeling of security, because whatever happens, nothing is fixed and everything is possible. So I can let Life speak to me and synchronicities guide me. All those nights spent in the tent were so many initiations to learn to trust in Life.
We will keep cycling in the world guided by our intuitions and the four cardinal points of our compass: to live, explore, share and inspire.
The Bike Nomad Family
Since 2010, Celine and Xavier are bike nomads. Their two daughters were born along the way. Nayla (2013) is the first toddler to have crossed the Nullarbor Desert in Australia by bicycle and Fibie (2017) is the first baby to have cycled through the coldest desert in the world, the Gobi Desert.
They are ambassadors of a life in the outdoors.
Nomads, writers, speakers and life coach, Celine is an anthropologist and Xavier a photographer.
They wrote two books:
- Nomads in the heart of the elements (2017)
- Bike Family Nomads (2021)
They chose MedicalForNomads to keep living as nomads.
More information: www.ylia.ch