The bicycle is my passport

old paper world map

Heinz Stucke spent 50 years visiting over 200 countries and territories, covering 648,000km in the process – most of them on a 25kg, 3-speed bicycle loaded with another 40-50kg of luggage.

The Netflix documentary ‘The man who wanted to see it all‘ is a series of astute observations, remarkable impressions and even a touch of philosophy from a man who adventures through life on a bicycle.

Two passages in particular stayed with us.

My bicycle is my passport

“In the old days, in the beginning, I would come to a city like Baghdad and, my God, you know nothing. You don’t know anybody there. You have a funny feeling in your stomach. Where will you stay? No money in your pocket. So you go into town. You ride around a little bit and ask somebody where is the cheap place to stay and before you know it, you are in the house of somebody. It isn’t ideal, but it is the bicycle that makes it possible. If I walked in the streets of Baghdad, nobody would talk to me. If I talked to somebody they would be suspicious. The bicycle is my passport.”

…a strong, reliable cycle which needed as little maintenance and repair as possible

“I’ve met many bicycle enthusiasts who ask many questions about speeds, gear issues, the weight of the equipment carried, the height of the saddle, handlebars, and many other technical things that I’ve never thought of very much. But what I wanted was a strong, reliable cycle which needed as little maintenance and repair as possible.”

“The cycling expert would say ‘How can you carry so much?’ I agree. I had to walk up the steeper hills. I agree. It’s slow, but I don’t want to set any records.”

One of the perils faced by Stücke during his travels was bicycle theft, which occurred about once a decade. To our collective embarrassment, his bike was stolen within hours of his arrival here in the UK at Portsmouth harbour. Luckily for Heinz, media coverage made the bike too hot for the thief to handle and it was soon returned.

Heinz Stucke is an inspirational figure. If you haven’t yet watched the Netflix documentary, we wholeheartedly recommend it.

The ethical choice

The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance (covers cargo bikes), breakdown cover  and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.

The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.

RadRunner e-bike prize



Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Your name and email are required.