Written by: 
Annika Selander Thursday, 18 August, 2016 - 22:54

11,659 km left to reach your dreams: the story of a man and his bike

A true traveller doesn’t know where he’s going – but he knows ESN will be there.

It’s safe to say that all of us in ESN believe that mobility is a lifestyle. Some of us just take it more literally than others.

Steven Benoît, 25, completed a year of Erasmus exchange studies in Valencia, Spain in 2010. The time he spent abroad opened his eyes for all the amazing things there are to see and experience in the world. Hungry for more, he spent years saving money to go on a tour to see more of Europe in all its beauty and diversity. Instead of getting an Interrail pass and catching a train after another like most people, he decided to take the entire journey by bike. “I really wanted to walk, but that would’ve been too slow”, he laughs.

46 weeks, 24 countries, and 11,659 kilometres later, Steven is now back home in France and ready to share his story to encourage everyone else to go for their crazy dreams, too. 

Before becoming better known as the crazy Eurotrip guy, Steven was an active ESNer and a sports teacher for disabled children. His sporty lifestyle combined with a desire to travel and explore motivated him to take on Europe his own way: by hopping on a bike and starting to pedal. “This way I got to see so much more”, he explains.

In spite of a knee injury on his first week of travel, freezing streaks in the Russian winter, and a broken bike with practically inexistant means to fix it in Albania, Steven enjoyed every kilometre. A true ESNer, he spent most of his time on the road not thinking about the big questions of life, but rather the big questions of ESN France. “I had my tablet with me and whenever I would catch Wi-Fi somewhere, I would send them insanely long emails about everything I had come up with during the day.”

Throughout his journey, there was one thing he could always rely on: the wide network and expertise of other ESNers. He regularly stayed on sofas, asked for tips and attended local ESN events. “Wherever I went, I knew I just needed to ask.” Afterwards, he reported all the things he had seen and done on his blog.

Out of all the things that can make a difference on such an adventure, Steven puts the most emphasis on passion and perseverance. He believes that the 10 months on the road taught him many skills that will be useful later in ESN and in life – most importantly believing in himself and his ability to overcome whatever obstacles may be thrown his way.

Now, a month after returning, Steven still struggles to understand the full extent of his journey. With a strong sense of accomplishment and a heart full of memories to last for a lifetime, he leaves us with one simple wish: “I just want people to believe that anything is possible.”

Read more about Steven’s adventure on his blog.
Photos: Steven Benoît

The official festival may be cancelled this year but you can still celebrate Oktoberfest in 2020 without travelling!
Several obstacles nearly destroyed my chance to go on an Erasmus. When I finally arrived at my destination, I discovered that I still had a lot to learn.
The previous months have been tough for everyone. But there were some people who, despite the fears, worked on ameliorating the lives of others. The ESN volunteers were some of those people. We should celebrate that when the world needed us, we delivered.
My Erasmus exchange in the Netherlands was the happiest six months of my life. This posed an issue when it came to returning to my normal life. What do you do when your new-found life and the joyful emotions that come with it come to an end?
We’re always talking about getting on with our lives. Well, we are. We get on with our lives. This is it. Maybe the problem is that I’ve always been driven by my wants. My life’s always been about tomorrow. And the idea that life is now… it’s horrible.