Wednesday, December 30

Tilmann Waldthaler, bike touring legend

himalayas 1977Nice interview with Tilmann Waldthaler on He's done some amazing riding, but he's not the sort of person who you can read about on Wikipedia.
Tilmannhas been touring on a bicycle for 32 years and seen and done things that most people can never imagine. His first trip lasted 4 years and took him from pole to pole between 1977 and 1981. This alone deserves a lot of admiration but that was only the beginning. He's originally from Germany but is now residing Australia. At 68 he's about to embark on Norway to New Zealand tour. He's written several books and done some speaking engagements in several countries. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me. I'm not the best interviewer so bear with me, hopefully my interviews will improve with time.

BTW, "he's written several books" is an understatement. As mentioned in the article he's written 17, but they're all in German.

Africa 1983Some choice questions.
Q. Which of your long trips is your favorite and why?

My very first trip from the Antarctica to Spitzbergen in the Arctic, because I see this trip from todays viewpoint as a 4 year apprenticeship on a bike through many cultures and experiences. I had the best chance to get to know myself much better.

Q. What is the one piece of equipment you never expected to need and now will never leave home on a trip without?

The Internet

Q. How did you go about getting sponsorship for your trips?

The first 10years of my biketravels I worked as a qualified pastrychef and as a cook, later I started to work as a photographer and Journo. It was easier as a Journalist to convince people to receive something back from me during and after my trips. As a pastrychef all I could offer my sponsors were maybe some 'strawberry tarts' which didn`t interest most potential sponsors.

Q. What's your favorite adventure book?/ Who, if anyone has influenced you to take up such a lifestyle?

My favourite adventure books are the ones I write myself (17 in all) A very good old friend Jean Pierre Valley has helped me to get going because I bought a bike with his help.

Q. Imagine if the bicycle had never been invented, how do you think your life would have gone differently?

I`d most probably be dead by now!!!

Read the complete interview on

You can read more about Tilman on his website.

Thanks to Sean Caffrey of Through the Ringer for the interview.

Arctic 1981

Update: Just to be absolutely clear it was Sean Caffrey of the excellent blog Through the Ringer who interviewed Tilmann not myself. In fact the interview was originally posted to Through the Wringer before they posted it to where I discovered it.

It seems the use of the word "me" in the parts of the interview I quoted confused a couple people. It happens, most understandable, but I just wanted to make sure that Sean and the excellent blog he writes for get the credit and thanks they deserve so they'll keep going out there and interviewing amazing people and doing whatever else it is they do. Thanks Sean!

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