Meet Clotaire Mandel (interview)

Published by Bas on

In 2017 I hosted French cycler Clotaire Mandel when he was on his way to Sweden. At the moment he is in Africa on his way to South Africa. He is one of the persons who inspired me to go on a big cycle trip myself. But who is Clotaire and why is he cycling across the world?

Tell me something about yourself:

Classical start, I’m a 27 year old French guy. Nurse and photographer, story teller. Stubborn traveler and happiest person in the world. Feel spaced out as soon as I sit in my lovely saddle.

Tell me something about your trip:

So far almost 14 months and over 20.000 km. Currently I’m crossing Africa on the east side and right now I’m in Malawi. No destination, no end. I just keep cycling as long as it makes me happy.

What is your motivation?

Good question! I love cycling and travelling first. So both is the right combination I guess. Then I love the aesthetic of bike touring. Sounds stupid but it’s an idealistic and aesthetic way of life. Then, be free of my movements as much as possible, be free of choosing my problem. Discovering the world, seeing things with my own eyes and not through a screen. Sitting, chilling, watching people moving around, photographing, writing. Living deeply. Taking back my time. Sharing, breaking boundaries and clichés.
There is also a political side, but that’s another question 😉

What did you learn so far?

I’ll say I’m experiencing what I had as convictions before. But I learn that in fact, the world is much safer and people are a way nicer than what some want to make you feel. It’s not easy to trust, but necessary, as if you have to take back this trust in humanity, because modern European society can pull you down, isolate you and make you feel sitting comfortably numb in a couch is the right way to live.
I learned about languages, religions, tribes, community and identity also. How everything build you up as a person and how differences makes you similar in a way.
I also learned not to judge as quick as we can do. And mostly learned that it would be hard to give back what I received so far.

What do you want to share with fellows?

Talking with fellow cyclist, it’s like preaching to the choir. Everyone is already convinced of the happiness cycling brings. Otherwise, for non cyclist fellows, I’ll say whatever you want to do, just do it. It’s a matter of few days to cut the tiny string which link you to impossibility. As long as something makes you happy, go ahead, whatever it costs, it should be the right decision here and now.

What are your biggest regrets and prides?

Good question. I don’t have much regret. Sometimes I don’t get why I waited so long to jump on this endless journey. Love I guess? So it’s a bit rough to say that I regret. I’m travelling almost constantly since I’m able to. I would regret not doing it, most probably.

About prides, maybe this constant motivation to achieve what I truly want to do, despite of the difficulties, loneliness and hard decisions. I’m proud of my family who’s endlessly supporting me and handling me!

Other questions:

  • Favorite country? Nepal
  • Cycled in which countries? Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland, Czech republic, Ukraine, Moldova, Transnistria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Iran, UAE, Oman, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Sweden, Austria, Italy, Croatia
  • Model bike? Surly LHT
  • Favorite book? The way of the world, Bouvier
  • Favorite movie? Jackie Brown
  • Hotel or camping in the wild? Wild camping!
  • Hot shower or hot meal after ride? Hot meal
  • City or nature? Nature
  • Rice or potatoes? Rice forever
  • Beer or wine? Beer
  • Mayonnaise or sambal? Mayo
  • Omnivore or herbivore? Omnivore
  • Travel fast or slow? Slow
  • Website?

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Categories: Travelling


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