45 Countries, 43,000 Km – By Bike!

“We said we’d travel, just the two of us, when our kids were grown.”

So starts the introduction to a couple, Chris Oram and Margo Mactaggart, on their blog “Chris and Margo’s Wanderings – Travels and adventures of a retired couple – mainly by bike”.

I met this couple by sheer synchronicity.  I was traveling back from Vancouver using skytrain, bus and ferry this last summer. Across from me on the bus was a couple with grey hair, all togged out in biking gear talking with a nearby family.

I shamelessly eavesdropped on their conversation and discovered they were on their way to Vancouver Island for several days of cycling. Then they started talking about their other trips and activities and I realized this was a really unusual duo.

At first glance, they strike you as just two ordinary older people out to take a bit of a ride, but when you discover their rides last for weeks, even months, your jaw drops and your respect rises.

As self-described outdoors kind of people, Margo and Chris take to biking like ducks to water. Activities such as hiking, orienteering and skiing are among their interests, but cycling has become their main way to get out and explore the globe.

It all seems to have started with 2009 when they undertook an 11-month road trip from Bangkok to Paris, across Central Asia.  They’d been cycling since 2006, but this particular trip created a chronic case of wanderlust.  Their new found passion took them on three other extended bike trips, each seeing them on the road for about five months. In 2011, South America; in 2013, Northern Europe; in 2014-15 England to Crete; and a vast number of places in between.

In just a few weeks from the time of this posting, Chris and Margo are off to Cancun Mexico – the starting point for a year-long southward trip through Central America.  “If all is going well, and we feel like continuing, we’ll carry on to South America and the Altiplano,” says Margo.

Piece of cake!

In total, they’ve cycled through 45 countries, a total of 43,000 km, since 2006.

I’ll let Margo carry on from here in her own words:

“We feel that if we’re ever going to do a “year long” one again, it had better be sooner than later. We also know that injury, burnout, or a crisis on the home front might bring us home earlier. That’s OK. We shall see.

The other reason for our “do this sooner than later” attitude is that our children are 32 and 29 respectively, and both married. (One in Norway, one in Victoria.)  We are not yet grandparents, and try to refrain from dropping any hints to them about starting families. However, if we were ever to become grandparents, we wouldn’t want to travel for such extended periods. So off we go!

Before we did our ride across Asia, we read a blog by an Australian woman of our vintage who had set out westward from China on a similar route. She did not make it all the way to Europe, because she flew home from Istanbul to be there for the arrival of her first grandchild. (As she was preparing to leave, one of her daughters had announced that she was pregnant!) 

I actually looked her journal up again recently – 7-8 years later – on the the site that collects these, and found she had gone back to Istanbul and continued from there to finish the originally planned journey to Paris. The title of her journal for this second half of the planned trip was “Five grandchildren later.” Hmmmm.”

Hmmmm, indeed.

Margo and Chris’s parting statement on their website is the message for today: “Don’t let grey hairs slow you down; embrace retirement and explore the world by bike!”

I’m hoping they will find time on their trip to check in with us with an update here and there.  It’s not often you get to meet a couple who are so boldly ‘living the dream’ but these two are doing it in spades.

For more about Margo and Chris visit https://candmwanderings.wordpress.com/

Barbara Risto is the publisher of INSPIRED Senior Living, a magazine geared for the 55+ demographic; the Canadian best-selling author of “To Move Or Not to Move?” a helpful guide for seniors considering their residential options; the producer of two annual 55+ Lifestyle Shows; and a champion of the 55+ lifestyle, which she is now embracing.

For more information, check out “Who Is Barbara Risto