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Who is Javier Colorado
I am from Madrid, I am 30 years old and I have just returned from a trip around the world on bicycle. It was an adventure that lasted three years and two months and lead me to go 65,000 km through 48 countries on 4 continents. I am Javier Colorado and this is my project, ¨Colorado on the road¨.
Out of the blue, one day you decided to go around the world on bicycle. How did that idea come to you?
It is something that I had had in mind since I was 20 years old. At that age, I had already begun to dream about it and so, one day I decided to make that happiness a reality. I finished my degree at 25 , then began to do an internship, to save a little money, to plan the journey the best that that I could and at 27, I set off on the adventure.
You have spent more than 3 years traveling the world with your inseparable bike. I am sure that more than once you felt like things were not running smoothly.
Many times, many times. Yes, there is a reason why my bike is called Bucéfalo, the name of Alexander the Great's horse. There were lots of moments when things did not go as planned, but these things are to be expected when traveling around the world in such a vulnerable way as doing it alone and on bike can be. Yes, there were lots of tough moments. But, in the end as I had a clear idea that I wanted to experience this trip, I never thought about throwing in the towel.
The most complicated part while riding has been the climate, above all the cold, the rain and if you thrown a mountain into the mix, climbing, climbing, climbing and then the altitude kicks in....all in all, it is complicated. In the deserts, the most difficult part was not the temperature, but the wind. For example, in the desert in Sudan, there were 100km with the wind in my face and it was 52 degrees out. The problem was not the high temperature, but it was to do almost 100 km into the wind, which was pushing you back. It was agonizing.
Before venturing out on this journey, did you train?
I have always liked sport a lot. Above all, I have done running. I have done 6 or 7 half marathons, I finished a couple of marathons en Madrid... A bicycle had only been a means of transportation before the trip. I went by bike to university or to work. Running had been what inspired me before the journey.
On your webpage, you say that you never pedaled alone. Did you feel accompanied?
Very much so. Lots of people supported me, beginning with my family, friends, followers, all of whom ended up growing in quantity a lot throughout the journey, and also there were those people who I met along the road. I felt loads of support. In fact, that was one of the most beautiful lessons from the trip, that 99,9% of the people I came across have hearts that do not fit in their chests. Hospitality is international. It is open to everyone and it is a lovely experience. Overall, without the support and help that I received, it would have never been possible. My slogan was “Going around the world alone¨, but I have never felt the presence of so many people behind me in my life. As a result of this, I created a digital book whose (portions of the) proceeds go to charitable causes, which is called Anécdota 101, which are 100 stories about my journey around the world, each of which goes with a photo. It is a project to continue a chain of favors. So many people helped me to fulfil my dream, that now I want to raise funds through this book to help others. For every 350 books, an African girl will be given a scholarship to study at the University of Nairobi thanks to The South Face, a website that a guy from Barcelona founded which finances university scholarships. So, go ahead and get started on discovering the 100 stories from my trip and let's make the dream of a girl going to the university possible. Here is link where you can find it.
Also, I was able to finance the trip through crowdfunding. The response was impressive. In fact, in order to go from Brasil to South Africa, I was looking for a boat between Santos and Rio de Janeiro, by talking to courier services, airline companies… I was broke and I wanted to get to Africa. It was a very long story, a really discouraging one, and in the end, people told me to do crowdfunding so that anyone interested could help me. In just 2 days, I raised enough for the boat trip. I crossed over to Africa with 64 names written in silver ink on the wheels of my bike so that those who helped me could come over to Africa with me, too.
I really did not travel alone.
You say that the world is full of people with good hearts. Is that true? Many tend to think that we live in a half-crazy world.
Man, both ideas are true, but you mainly run into really good people. What happens is that when someone does something bad, it makes a lot of noise and instills loads of fear. Nobody should travel by trusting others too much, but nor can one do it by being suspicious of everybody. The key is to find a balance which you feel comfortable with because in the end 9 out of 10 are going to receive you with open arms.
Which country was the best of all of them that you visited?
In Asia, it was India. In America, it was Colombia, and in Africa, Malawi.
You already have a new project in mind, a trip through the Amazon by canoe. You are leaving asphalt for water. How is that?
When I was going around the world and I got to Ecuador, I went to the Casa Ciclista in Santiago, where there is a man who has been hosting cyclists for 20 years in his house. I was traveler number 3.000 that he had taken in. I met a German guy there that told me how he was making a raft from 50 liter water containers. He had tied some bamboo canes together and he had made a platform to which he had put some walls, a roof, a hammock, a kitchen and then he put it in a tributary of the Amazon River, the Napo River, which is where I am going to begin, and just by drifting along, he arrived to Manaus in 6 months. He took the same route that I am going to do. When I left Casa Ciclista, I told myself ¨When I get back home, as soon as I can, I will come back to Ecuador and I am going to do the same thing as him, but in my own way.¨
I am going to contribute to the production of my canoe. It is a canoe that is handmade from the the trunk of a tree and it turns out there are lots of people who work on this on the banks of the river. I will go with a mate who will be going by kayak to film everything. The trip will be about 3,000 km in 100 days.
My objective is to be traveling for about 3 months, then to return to Spain and to organize the next project in order to set off again and to be like this, coming and going, but to be abroad more than home, for some years. I already have three trips in the pipeline. The one on the Amazon is going to be the first.
Where do you get the financing to do such incredible journeys?
My main sponsor is Glenfiddich, a Scottish whisky brand. We began to collaborate when I was in Africa. We made a commercial commemorating the anniversary of the whisky since they were looking for someone who fit into the frame of ¨I left everything behind to follow my own path¨. Since then, we have begun to collaborate and when I got back home, I proposed the next project. It was at this point, that instead of talking about a collaboration, we started talking about a proper sponsorship. They have really got involved a lot.
It is clear that setting off like this will lead to far less problems, even though we are going to be traveling with a budget for food of 3 to 6 dollars per day. And traveling without money gets you closer to the people. When you do not have it, people can always give you a hand, open their houses, tell you all about their lives, and they keep you in touch with a reality that you will not experience in a hotel. And in the end, what I care about is knowing all of the little stories, which is what makes this type of journey priceless. So, we will be going with money, but our objective is to spend very, very little because we will be bringing everything with us, we will not have to buy anything and we will always be sleeping in our tent.
What have you learned from your journey?
To connect with people. You can learn a ton from new things. But above all, I have learned that happiness is within everyone's reach. You only have to go out there and look for it. It is that simple. Even though putting it into practice is much more complicated. In my opinion, everything starts with a decision and the most important part is not to make it, but to carry it out. I made the decision to live my dream and I am still doing it.
"Everything starts with a decision, and the most important thing is not to take it, it's to make it true"