If you’ve ever wanted to follow a dream but not been sure you can go for it, then Tiphaine Muller might just be your new inspiration.
The 25-year-old has accomplished a whopping 22,000km travelling on her bike across Europe and Africa – with more to come.
After finishing her studies, Tiphaine didn’t feel ready to settle down and decided to visit Australia from her native Paris, where she stayed for a year.
It was after a few months in Melbourne that the idea of cycling around the globe began to hatch, and she began experimenting with 1,500km across western Oz.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Tiphaine told us: “When I got to New Zealand, I gave up cycling as it was way to hilly and rainy for me.
“The frustration, and the fact I was so far from home, made me want to cycle Europe to discover my own continent outside of the beaten tracks and to live the adventure there.
“I worked a few months in Paris and realised I was more and more unhappy, so I decided to finally leave. I left my hometown with my bicycle, heading to Stockholm as a first goal.”
While it seems evident that Tiphaine would have to be physically fit to embark on a journey of this nature, she also needed to be mentally fit.
And with the idea in mind “for at least six months”, she finally coaxed herself towards a departure date and quit her job ready to start the trip on her 23rd birthday.
Tiphaine continued: “My only plan was going north. I left in June 2017… I’ve always heard nice things about Sweden and its nature.
“Cycling 2,000 km to Stockholm seemed pretty realistic, not too far but also enough to be challenging. That was kind of my only plan at the beginning.
“I already had in my mind that if I wanted to continue, I could always cycle a bit in Sweden and Finland, but never really thought much further.
“Africa had not crossed my mind at all yet. It came along later, with cyclists I met, stories I was told and, consequently, my motivation growing.”
Despite the ambition it wasn’t all a breeze though, and Tiphaine faced many challenges.
She explained: “Challenges are often regarding weather – some weeks of rain in Baltic countries; a terrible wind in the Sahara and a horrible heat in Guinea Bissau. Or traffic, as being on a bicycle next to cars and trucks makes you extremely vulnerable.
“Yet my most challenging moment was in Tanzania. There, I was cycling with Martin who I met in Morocco. We were in the centre of the country, in some rural area, when we got attacked by tsetse flies. We cycled for two hours with dozens of aggressive flies around us, trying to sting us everywhere they could. A pure nightmare!
“It was very hot and we had to cycle in our rain jackets so to not be stung everywhere.
“We were then sweating, stressed, and could not even take the time to drink any water. At some point, I thought we would die from exhaustion.
“Thankfully, when we stopped for the night, they all went away. But they came back the next day – even more than the previous day.”
To give a little context, tsetse flies are parasites that live by feeding off blood. They are also known to spread disease and can infect humans.
Fortunately, there were just as many magical moments for Tiphaine to focus on though.
She added: “My best memories are in the Sahara. I love that feeling of cycling without paying attention to the road, being in the middle of nowhere, disconnected to the world.
“We were given some water from people stopping with their car, we always had help finding a place to sleep, we were invited into a restaurant. Those three weeks in the Sahara were for sure the most incredible.”
However, returning home was a struggle as Tiphaine was faced with normality again.
She concluded: “The contrast between ‘survival life’ on a trip – only having to worry about food, water and a place to sleep – and a life in a consumer society, is quite brutal.
“When I’m home, I have everything I need and way more, but that doesn’t actually make me happier. Coming home from Oceania after my first year away was the hardest.
“What helped me a lot after my bicycle journey through Europe and Africa was writing a book. That definitely helped continue the trip in some way, re-living it.
“It was the perfect transition between the adventure life and what we call a ‘normal’ life. I was physically home but my mind was still in the trip. To write the book, I was going through my journal, looking at all the photos and remembering the journey. I loved it.”
Tiphaine is now the proud author of Little Miss Pedals, a book she hopes can inspire people to make their dreams happen and remind them how great the world can be.
But the adventures aren’t over for Tiphaine and boyfriend Martin just yet, with the pair planning to cycle to Bangkok where her brother lives – cycling through Turkey, Iran and central Asia – after their initial plans to go this year were put on hold due to coronavirus.
She added: “There are a lot of ideas, it’s just a matter of time and opportunity to make it happen. Dreams come and go, you just have to pick one and go for it.”
To get inspired, visit Dreams On Tracks.