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19 December 2012 No comments
Juliana Buhring Is Back!Events Sports Cycling Travel & Adventure Cycling
We've seen this signpost before! WCR racer Juliana made it to the other side in one piece. When Yorkshire's Mike Hall made it over the finish line in first place earlier this year, the media frenzy surrounding the WCR Grand Tour began to die down a little. And when Irishman Simon Hutchinson rolled in to take the final podium spot, most people may have reckoned that tales of world circumnavigations by bike were done with for 2012. They reckoned without Juliana Buhring. As we reported at the time, alongside the 12 men vying for Alan Bate's record, there were also two women planning this year to lay down a marker for future female adventurers. One of them, Juliana Buhring, is currently on the home stretch and scheduled to finish in Naples a little later this month. Even without having set off unaided around the world on her bicycle, Juliana has experienced eventful times in her young life. Born into the walled compounds of a religious cult, Juliana defied years of abuse and blackmail to escape in her early twenties, and released a book of memoirs, Not Without My Sister, in 2007. Juliana, not pictured with the bike she used for her tilt at the Circumnavigation record. After moving around for a few years, Juliana finally settled in Naples, Italy where under normal circumstances, she can be found running her own language school. She has used her tour not only as a personal challenge, but as a way of drawing attention to the Safe Passage Foundation, a charitable organization set up to help and counsel others in the process of rebuilding and reshaping their lives in the aftermath of a childhood spent in environments similar to those in which Juliana spent hers. Riding a specially set up Schiano, she has fastidiously shared video footage and pictures throughout the past five months, as well as maintaining a prog-rep blog in both Italian and English. Her Twitter feed is likewise rich in glimpses from the road. Illness, the ravages of extreme weather conditions, occasionally uncooperative machinery and countless patience-trying punctures are probably some of the Necessary Evils that one reckons with when setting out on a long haul solo ride, and Juliana's male counterparts on the WCR Grand Tour will all have dealt with them as well, to some extent or another. Let's of course not forget, though, that such a trip's rewards in general heavily outweigh these relatively prosaic concerns. To see the world under one's own steam, taking in such a wealth of sights and sounds, is the stuff of dreams for most halfway enthusiastic cyclists. But from a female's standpoint it takes more than just a little freedom of spirit, self confidence and courage, to roll exhausted at night into one utterly foreign surrounding after another for weeks on end in search of food and shelter. A read through her travelogue will show that Juliana has taken everything the trip could give her, both good and bad, and used it both as fuel and touchstone for a life lived in the here and now. Powering along with occasional accompaniment since July, she finds herself now with just a paltry few hundred miles or so to wipe out this side of Christmas. Great riding!