lunedì 15 febbraio 2016

#EUCycle - Cycling throughout Europe

Carlos Arrebola's challenge: from October to December he will be cycling throughout Europe: 6000Km in total.

A bicycle, three months time, eleven nations to cross, 6000km of roads to travel, one man. This is #EUcycle, an idea of Carlos Arrebola, a Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge, UK. Interested in European culture and also in sports, in October He will be going to cycle from Hattuvaara, in the extreme eastern edge of Finland, with destination Cabo da Roca, Portugal, arriving estimated in the end of December. During his trip he will pass through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France and Spain. He will also be passing through Vercelli, his arrive is expected in the first half of November 2016. An opportunity not to be missed, for being a part of a journey that will collect people's voices and ideas from all over the European Union.

"I have a job lined up in London for the future, but before it starts I have got some free time to travel. So, this is why I am doing #EUcycle"

Carlos, what are the reasons that led you to undertake this journey?

The reasons why I am doing #EUcycle are probably a set of characteristics of my personality and experience. I would summarise them in the following three categories: European tourism, cycling and people.
As I said, I have some free time, and I am not the type of person that likes sitting at home not doing anything. I like to travel. So, #EUcycle gives me the opportunity of visiting the EU, far beyond the usual ways of doing tourism. I find it very exciting that I am going to be passing through small towns and villages, as well as big European cities.
Obviously, my interest in European Union topics means that the trip will be very interesting to me because I can explore the theories that I have devoted so much time to thinking about. I don’t intend this to be a research project where I try to conclude whether EU integration theories are accurate or not. This trip is motivated by me wanting to live the European Union, if that makes sense.
Another aspect is the cycling. There is something fascinating about getting to places by your own means, without depending on cars, money, etc. It is a very different way to see the world than going from airport to airport. It is also a massive physical challenge, and as a sports lover (probably slightly over-achiever) I had to set myself a goal that I thought was bordering the impossible. Cycling across the EU sounded daunting enough.
Finally, I would love to share this trip with people. I have been so enriched by travelling in the past, and by meeting new cultures, that I see this trip as an opportunity to give and take just that: cultural diversity and unity. I want to take cultural diversity by meeting new people and customs, sharing experiences, etc; and I want to give this opportunity to others too. I know that not everyone has the opportunity to travel and see the EU, so that is why I have created a Youtube channel to film this. At the moment, I am creating films that try to put the trip in context. I make films about my training, the logistics of the trip or questions about the European Union that I am considering. Once the trip starts, I think the Youtube channel will get especially exciting because I plan to vlog everyday. So, for the viewer it will be like coming with me on the bike, but without the physical pain. I hope this is an opportunity to show to Europeans how we are indeed “United in diversity”, as our motto reads.

What do you expect to find during your trip?
The simple answer to this is: I don’t know. It is difficult to try to plan all the details of the trip. I have a general outline of the route and, as I said, I want to know where I will be stopping each night, so I can look for accommodation. Other than that, I will take it as it comes. I am sure there are going to be times when I will wonder why I decided to do it (especially when it gets very cold or I get mechanical issues). But, there will be times when I will be surprised by the wonder of the people I meet, the places I visit, etc. And those moments will make up for everything. Overall, I am very excited about #EUcycle.

In one of your videos, you said that you would like to «engaging with people and talk with the locals», do you think it will be easy? Do you speak any other language in addition to English?

This is a very good question, and definitely one of the main concerns about European integration. Language is one of the first things that come to mind when we think of the possibility of having a united set of people, and many times claims of independence arise off the back of a difference in language. I am thinking, particularly, about Catalonia or the Basque Country in Spain.

So, obviously, it is important to explore the issue of language within the European polity. What is the language of Europeans? My intuition here is that, despite having 28 official languages, English is becoming the dominant language. For people in my generation (between 20-35 years old), English is probably the common language. It is a common language in a peculiar way, since most of us speak it as a second language; but a common language, nevertheless. I want to be clear that I am not saying that other languages should be displaced. After all, the richness of the Union lies with its cultural diversity, and that goes for languages too.

Answering your question, for the trip, I expect to be able to interact with people mostly in English. But, I also speak Spanish (my mother tongue), French, and German (although, admittedly, the last two are a bit rusty, and need some revision). I hope these language skills will allow me to interact with most people with whom I cross paths.

According to the map you posted, you will be passing through the northern Italy approximately in the middle of your journey. When do you think you will be passing through Vercelli? (We would be very happy to welcome you!)
Indeed, I expect to be passing through Vercelli at some point early November or mid-November at the latest. I am still finalising the details of the trip. I am trying to create a day-to-day calendar of the cities I am going to be stopping at. It would be an absolute pleasure to stop at Vercelli and learn about your town and specialties.
Please keep an eye on the Facebook page I created for the trip ( I will be posting the whole route, so people get to know the exact dates of when I am where. Also, for the more charitable, I welcome invitations to host me during the trip. If you are a Good Samaritan from Vercelli who wants to offer a bed for one night, I will be very grateful. You can message me through the Facebook page

Carlos Arrebola / Samuele Giatti - Vercelli YouthNews