World on A Bike

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

The world is getting smaller, due to the information age that we live in. However, the world is also a vast place, filled with so many cultures, people, and sights that we could travel our whole lives and never experience it all. I'm always intrigued by long-term travelers - and I've recently found Harry Kikstra and Ivana Coria, who are cycling South through the Americas. They are documenting their trip online, on

Harry and Ivana in Amsterdam, Alaska - Ushuaia, is a photo travel journal that explores the challenges of traveling on bike through the Americas. Harry Kikstra is aclimber/expedition leader/ photographer/ filmmaker/ producer/ writer/ public speaker/ cycler and many other things that have to do with sharing the beauty of the outdoors.  Ivana Coria is a Psychologist turned BikeTraveller. She has already cycled around New Zealand and from Malaysia to India, through Turkey and in Italy. Her last stories, in Spanish, can be found on

Harry is also an incredible photographer, and is documenting their trip and the people they are meeting. Every time I peruse their site, I get drawn in and can't stop reading about their journey, and looking at his extraordinary photos. Harry is also busy with two other projects - we'll feature his sites and in May and June.

We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Harry about their journey, intercultural experiences, and more. Here's what he had to say...



WE: Please tell us about your site/project,

HK: WorldOnaBike covers our current bicycle trip, from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina. So from the most Northern point to the most Southern point in the Americas.
We will tell about our trips, about bike travelling in general, and about the people and cultures we meet on our way. We expect that it will take about 3 years, ending in 2011.



WE: What ideas jumpstarted your plans to cycle for so long, for so far?

HK: After I finished climbing the 7 summits, I wanted to get back on the bicycle again. I had done some short tours (few weeks at a time only), and my girlfriend Ivana had just come off a 1.5 year trip.

She wanted to bike across South America, and I wanted to show her Alaska, Canada, Guatemala and other places I had visited before, so we decided to go all the way and see all countries along the way. So we are not going in a straight line, we will switch-back through all countries.

I run my own business, Internet allows me to work wherever I am, the world is my office. I can receive faxes, transfer money, and organise expeditions from the road.

Cycling is the best way to travel, you go slow enough to stop for picking raspberries on the side of the road (or to take a photo of a bear doing the same), but fast enough to see many different places every day.



WE: How difficult is it, to bike such long distances? (Physically, interculturally, and emotionally?)

HK: It is harder than I thought. After a few months I started to get back problems, and also my knee is acting up. I need to do more exercises now, to keep all muscles strong.
Interculturally it is very interesting. On a bike you meet all types of people, people you would zoom past on a freeway if you were in a car. It is great to hear and share stories with new friends. Sometimes we meet so many people that we need a few evenings off, to recover from all the kindness that we cannot return.

Emotionally, it is difficult in many ways. First of all, you spend 24/7 with each other. The weather and other travel conditions can break you if they are against you. There are steep hills, flat tires, cold nights. But there are also incredible landscapes, the nicest people, the downhills, the wind in your hair and the feeling of freedom that makes it worth so much.
In general, you just are much more alive than when sitting at home.



WE: Please share with us how you are supporting the environment through

HK: Of course cycling is the greenest way to travel, we want to promote sustainability in a broad sense. If we can cycle across 2 continents, maybe somebody else can cycle to the grocery store instead of taking the SUV?

We support Kiva, as they empower local entrepreneurs by offering microcredits. They do not just hand out money, but give the hardworking people an opportunity (all loans are being paid back). We will also help them out by making some portraits of Kiva lenders along the way.



WE: Do you constantly want to stop and take photos, or does the rhythm of cycling make you not want to stop? I am sure you've worked out a system...

HK: No system; I have many off-days, where my mind is too busy with other things and I do not take any photos. If that happens, the ones I shoot are uninspired and often deleted quickly. On other days, I sometimes stop every few minutes to take a photo. As Galen Rowell said: if it is good, shoot it, if it gets better, shoot it again!

It takes a while to open my bags and maybe get the best lens on for the shot, so I cannot make quick snapshots. I often cycle faster than Ivana, so I just wait for her at a spot where I want to make a photo as well.



WE: what do you hope to see and do, interculturally, on this journey?

HK: We hope to see, document, and share how people really live, not what the media wants us to believe. We hope to share our stories of previous trips with them, to teach a bit about the world they might never know otherwise.

Kluane Lake, Alaska

Shadow and Rainbow, Alaska




WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

HK: If you are a cyclist or planning on becoming one and want a free weblog, I opened up, where all cyclists can open up a free weblog (it will be called name dot
If you want to support us, you can visit our website. But the best way is to simply start riding! Save gas, the environment, money & your body. Why not?


WE: Thanks so much, Harry. Your journey is inspiring!

For more information, please see:


All photos courtesy and copyright of Harry Kikstra. All rights reserved.