After his 3-month Erasmus internship in Belgium, Yann, a 5th-year engineering student at ISARA Lyon, set himself a challenge and thought, “Why not cycle back home to Dunkirk at the end of my internship?”
Since 2021, the Erasmus Agency has been offering an additional €50 to students who use an eco-friendly means of transportation when travelling to or from their host country, to combat climate change and support ecological transition. Through this initiative, the Agency aims to promote sustainable means of transportation and more responsible behaviors.
Curious to learn more about his cycling experience, we interviewed Yann about his motivations, apprehensions, and adventures on the road from Verviers to Dunkirk.
Hello Yann! Tell us a bit about your journey. How long did this trip take you? Did you make any stops for accommodation?
It took me a whole day. I cycled for 12 hours and covered 300 kilometers. I didn’t stop for accommodation, but along my route, I made sure to pass through all the streets, the main squares, and monuments in the cities I could cross to enjoy every moment. For instance, instead of riding at an average speed of 25 or 30 km/h, I would ride at 10 km/h in these streets. In each major city, I stayed for around 15 minutes to half an hour for a short break, grab a bite, and then set off again.
What were the challenges and drawbacks of this trip ?
On that day, the weather wasn’t very pleasant. I didn’t experience light rain but a heavy downpour that soaked me for 8 hours.
How did you handle this inconvenience?
It’s true I have a strong mindset, so it was fine. In any case, I knew I had to get home, and I couldn’t stop. However, after 6-7 hours, you start wondering when it’s going to stop. Cycling in the rain wasn’t easy, but ultimately, as I reached the north of France, the weather improved. It was great to finish the last three hours under the sun!
How did you prepare for this trip? Did you have any apprehensions?
Since I’m used to cycling, I didn’t do any specific preparation for this journey. Nevertheless, I was a little apprehensive at first, because I had never made this kind of effort before, meaning 12 hours of continuous cycling, so it’s quite a long ride.
I was also a bit concerned about my equipment because things can always go wrong with a bike, like a flat tire, for example. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any puncture issues, which is good because in case of a problem, you need to find a bike shop, change the inner tube, etc. There was that small bike-related apprehension, but I had the mindset of not giving up. Once I had started, the goal was to arrive and enjoy the day.
Did the 50€ Green Travel grant provided by the Erasmus Agency influenced your decision?
It was more the passion for cycling that motivated me to take on this challenge. In any case, I would have done it, even without the help of the Erasmus Agency. It was my personal end-of-internship challenge to cycle back home. Otherwise, yit’s satisfying to receive €50 in your pocket after a 12-hour bike ride. How cool!
Thank you for sharing! Is this an experience you would recommend to other students?
Yes! Cycling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it in a competitive manner. It does involve a physical aspect because you have to cycle for a long time, but I think above all that cycling is a way to explore the city while taking your time, discover what’s happening around you, and meet people who will later become friends. That’s what I love about cycling. You need to explore and make the most of our youth while we still can !