“If you want something, don’t just say it. Do it!”
A fine line exists between working in an office and travelling around New Zealand on a bicycle, and we call it desire. Desire to make reality out of a passing thought, half in jest and half sincere. “I would love to ride a bike as I usually do, but without a final destination in mind”, was a comment that Atila Madrona made to a colleague from work that he used to cycle with.
New Zealand was a destination among many, but curiosity for the country really sparked during this same conversation between Atila and his colleague. It was then when they started their initial planning. “I saw that New Zealand had a perimeter that could be done in a year, calculating an average of around 50 kilometres a day. I also saw that it had good waves, it was a country that thrived in nature, that it didn’t have too many natural hazards, and that it was the furthest place from Spain that I could travel. I therefore decided that this was going to be my goal.”
A bicycle and surfboard were Atila’s companions during his 10-month adventure. Everyone chooses how he or she wants to live his or her life and he had it very clear that sport was going fill a good part of his selection.
“I am often so appreciative of my bike and surf board. My bike was what carried me the whole way but my surfboard allowed me to discover new things: to discover that I am capable of travelling 9,000 kilometres in one year, and to discover that our only limits are the ones that we set for ourselves”.
He defines himself as a curious person who loves extreme adventures, both living and sharing them. “My way of telling stories is through photography as I feel at ease with my camera in my hands”. Atila has documented his travels through New Zealand using photographs and videos that he would share via social networks and the web. It’s a job that’s partly unconstrained, but at the same time necessary, especially considering the valuable of sponsorships in any project he starts. “I had regular meetings with Microsoft to see how the numbers were going for the web and in order to decide whether or not we needed to make any changes; although what Microsoft and the rest of the sponsoring brands valued most was that I tell the stories in a natural way”.
It’s amazing to me that a project so closely linked with nature and a love for the ocean, in which the means of transportation was that of a bicycle, was in the hands of technology and the Internet the whole time. I therefore asked Atila to explain his point of view taking into consideration my observation. “Exactly, this is something that I wanted to highlight on my journey. Technology is deeply integrated in this world we live in but there are so many different ways to utilize it. I loved the idea of being able to tell such an authentic tale of events simply through the use of a mobile device. In my eyes it’s not a matter of contradiction. A sailor at deep-sea will need technology in order to predict the sea, as would a forest engineer who observes and predicts how nature will act. It’s more of a tool; it’s possible to live without it, however you are also able to create beautiful things with it.”
Atila has been able to take his project to the next level with the publishing of his book, ‘Don’t Follow This Bike’, which would have been impossible without the support of technology. “I was telling my day to day experiences through Youtube, my blog or Instagram, but the book is something more than just a diary of my experiences. It’s a narrative about how to discover the world, in this case the culture o New Zealand, from a different perspective. Through surfing and travelling on my bike I was able to tell a story about how you can really engage with the population of a country”.
If there is anything that Atila has taken with him from his travels it’s precisely that: people. For this reason, when I asked him what has been the best part of his trip, his response was compelling, “The Kiwis. The people. How I was treated. How genuine and authentic they are. I developed a way of understanding people I had never known before. A lot of it is about trust and it has made me a better person.”
I’ve now come to know a part of Atila’s story. What’s interesting is that he is convinced that the only thing we own is our history, and that we must bring to light, or at least try to look for it. “We all have so many stories to tell and by that I mean that everyone would like to do something. I simply say do it”.
He gave me a last bit of advice, so that I am able to tell my own story. Try to practice “Freeride”. He explained that it consists of “feeling free in doing what you do and being comfortable with it”. What’s important is to find your own path to take in life whether you’re more practical, a dreamer, rational or passionate. The route can be direct or oblique; however, it’s essential that you arrive at the goal, satisfied of having tackled the chosen route.
Finding that desired path is not easy. If you’ve decided to practice “Freeride” but you still feel the urge to learn more about Atila Madrona’s story, don’t waste anymore time and…follow that bike!