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Cycle touring the world on a recumbent bike honeymoon

Alia Parker's picture
Zita and Apri reach 20,000km in Australia cycling the world on recumbents. Cycle Traveller

When Apri Harkanyi met Zita Zarug while he was cycling to the most northern point of continental Europe in 2009, he felt like the luckiest guy in the world that she was keen to date him on a bicycle, riding alongside him for a part of the journey. On June 11, 2011 they were married, departing on an around-the-world bike trip just one week later. That was more than two years ago and with 20,000km down and more to go, the honeymoon continues. The two Hungarians have reached Australian shores and are making their way down the east coast on their recumbent bicycles and are keen to catch up with any interested cyclists along the way. At the same time, the two have produced an inspiring 2014 calendar featuring beautiful photography taken while on their journey through Asia, including rides at 4,500m above sea level in the Pamirs in Tajikistan, the infamous Karakorum Highway in Pakistan, the crowds of Bangladesh, up a volcano in Indonesia and through the Australian Outback. We touched base with Apri and Zita to see how the adventure is unfolding as they stopped in at Byron Bay.

CT: How's the honeymoon going?

The Pamirs in Tijikistan on recumbent bikes. Cycle TravellerZZ & AH: The Honeymoon is going very well – we only argue every second week! But seriously, we are the luckiest folks ever to have such a great honeymoon. Imagine how many experiences and stories we have from the 27 countries and 21,000 km we have travelled so far. Even with all the uphills and punctures, it's much better than lying on a beach for 10 days.

CT: You've already celebrated your second wedding anniversary. How much longer do you think the honeymoon will last?

ZZ & AH: Two more years would be fantastic, but it all depends on our budget. We have a 2014 calendar project going on right now; if enough people order a calendar from us we may make enough money to continue our journey. You can check it out here: www.pozible.com/cyclingthe360.

CT: Why did you choose to ride recumbent bicycles?

ZZ & AH: We enjoy comfort so we switched from stand-up bicycles to recumbent ones. They don't cause any pain! You hop on your bike, cycle, hop off and 100km happened to you :) Also, we can enjoy the scenery much more. I remember with my old bike, after the first few hours of cycling my neck got too tired and I just stared at my running front wheel. On a recumbent you have 180 degrees HD view.

CT: You've cycled through some pretty extreme conditions. How do recumbents handle steep mountains or bad bumpy roads?

Cycle touring outback Australia on recumbent bicycles. Cycle TravellerZZ & AH: Generally speaking the recumbents handle uphills at a slower speed. It means where a stand-up bicycle goes with 8km/h, on a recumbent you go 6km/h. But you get to the top anyway. Bumpy roads are also not an issue because the suspension under our seat takes all the bumps. It feels like a rocking chair, just you have to set the suspension to "soft" before the bad road conditions start.

CT: How do you like to carry your gear on your recumbents?

ZZ & AH: We have four Ortlieb bags each, all of them under our seat (there is no space on the first wheel for bags because our legs are there). All of our stuff fits there, only water and some food is outside. We still think we are overloaded, but when only four bags each is your home for years, it doesn't feel that heavy any more.

CT: Do you ever miss the 'normal' life?

ZZ & AH: Oh yes, especially family gatherings, celebrations, and daily routine. Sometime we miss having a same, not changing place to sleep and live. But from the other perspective, this is one of the magical beauties of cycle touring – not knowing where you are going to sleep each night.

CT: What's your favourite experience so far cycling in Australia?

Reaching the 10,000km mark. Cycle TravellerZZ & AH: Australian people! And if we have to choose a place, we really enjoyed the outback, the "nothing", when you see nothing much but bushes. After two years of crowded Asia, some silent meditating time was something we were looking forward. For this, we cycled 750km from south of Tennant Creek to Mt Isa on one of the unserviced roads of Australia.

CT: What improvements in the areas you've been to would make it better for touring cyclists in Australia?

ZZ & AH: Well, after cycling for two years in Asia, we are pretty much happy to be here and just being amazed every day as we see all these cycle lanes, wide shoulders on the roads. In NSW we can cycle even on the highway, it is legal and also signed well. We really can't give suggestions, because the cycling infrastructure is so far quite amazing for us. Maybe more cyclist would be nice to see, more cycling commuters and less cars! In Australia everything is here for cycling, but there are not that many cyclists on the road. Where are the people, sitting at home, watching TV? :)

CT: Where to next?

Zita and Apri cycling the world on recumbents. Cycle TravellerZZ & AH: Now we are cycling the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne route. Right now we are in Byron Bay, so the next stretch is two weeks to Sydney. We will fly to Auckland from Melbourne in two months, and spend Christmas in New-Zealand. From there we would like to go to South and Central America, if it works out that we have enough money for that.

You can follow Zita and Apri's adventures on their blog Cycling The 360 or pre-order one of their 2014 calendars through crowdfunding website Pozible. Calendar sales will help fund the remainder of their journey because, unlike many other young tourists, the couple is unable to work here as Australia does not have a bilateral working holiday visa arrangement with Hungary.

 

Images from top: 1. Reaching the 20,000km mark in Australia. 2. Cycling the Pamirs in Tajikistan. 3. Australian outback between Mt Isa and Tennant Creek. 4. Reaching the 10,000km mark. 5. Zita and Apri on their honeymoon.

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These guys stayed with us in late October through Warm Showers and were a real delight.

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