Laura Bingham's 7000km Cycle Through South America

Laura’s latest project involves crossing South America with a cruel twist. With only the equipment she can fit in her panniers, she will cycle from the Pacific Coast of Ecuador, over the Andes, through the Amazon jungle until, potentially emaciated and bedraggled, she finally reaches Buenos Aires – and the Atlantic Ocean. If this feat wasn’t tough enough, Laura will conduct the entire expedition completely unsupported and with no money. Her extraordinary resourcefulness and  unique charm will be tested to the absolute limits.

3800km down, 3300 to go. I’ve been cycling for just over 3 months with no money, which means my choice in food hasn’t really been a choice at all. I spent 2 weeks eating pure rice and bits of stale bread, which was rationed. Needless to say my energy levels were shocking. I was having severe carb crashes and I wasn’t in a position to keep topping them up because I had to ration the food.

A month later I found myself in the Amazon rainforest, with fruit growing all around me and people giving me vegetables, my diet expanded ten fold and my energy levels flew right up. That was whenI began to realise how important food is in sustaining energy levels. Unfortunately, with this expedition, I just have to eat what I’m given. Trying to replace the calories I’m burning everyday whilst cycling is a huge daily worry. There have been many moments that I haven’t had enough to fuel the daily distances, and my cycling has suffered massively. Fire too, isa challenge. I can’t buy fuel so I have to look for dry wood everyday and cook by wild fire, which takes ten times as long as a jet to boil!

In the Ecuadorian Andes it was especially hard: the terrain and weather were unforgiving. Rain pouring down each day and a relentless and persistent incline but to top it off, and difficulty in sourcing food. Coming through this stretch was a wonderful high, reaching Peru and the rainforest was incredible, nice flat smooth roads, and more than enough food! Through Peru I had managed to build up my food stock so that I now have a pannier full of food, including 4kg of rice. I’ve also come to understand how important a good partner is. I started out with a Peruvian man, we then went separate ways and I went alone for awhile which really wasn’t a good idea.

My fiancé was the next person to join me which was a very familiar and comfortable time. I am now writing this article with a good friend of mine as my cycling partner for the time being, NessKnight. I have found her company very motiving and positive which has made this whole experience a dream, I now have a pannier full of food and a great cycling partner.I couldn’t be happier. Don’t be afraid of change. I was afraid to change my original partner because it was functional and was working well enough, but I couldn’t be happier that I did. Having a wide range of food to eat which is nutritional and beneficial to sustaining energy along with a great motivating and positive partner is the key to having a great time and succeeding. I expected this trip to push me to my limits and test what I’m made of and it’s done exactly that.